Death of Hugh O'Shaughessy (1956, Modern Languages)

11 March 2022

We are very sad to announce the death of Old Member Hugh O'Shaughessy (1956, Modern Languages) on 1st March 2022, aged 87.

Jimmy Burns, formerly of the Financial Times, has written a lovely note about his memories of Hugh. Jimmy writes:

"Hugh O’Shaughnessy, who died peacefully on March Ist aged 87 was one of the most knowledgeable and courageous journalists writing on Latin America, contributor to major Irish and British newspapers , the BBC, and The Tablet .

With a nose for a good story, however risky, Hugh was often well ahead of the pack in being in the right place at the right time. In Chile where he lived in his younger days as a journalist, O’Shaughnessy witnessed the aftermath of the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973.

Four years later he founded the Latin America Bureau, a publisher of focused accounts of the region’s struggles for social and environmental justice. His own journalism continued with outspoken and defiant coverage of the ‘disappearance’ of thousands of victims of the Argentina military. He warned, weeks before it happened, of the junta’s invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

A man of faith, Hugh denounced the complicity of sectors of the Catholic Church in supporting brutal dictatorships, while honouring the courage of individual priests and bishops whose Christian witness had them facing up to the repressors often losing their own lives as a result.

He had an acerbic wit and rage which he reserved for those he believed deserved no concessions. He was capable of acts of compassion and generosity towards others who genuinely were in need of help.

He was always on the side of the marginalised, displaced and persecuted. His kindness also showed in his encouragement of younger journalists who felt inspired by his intrepid example as witness to truth and justice.

Hugh played a discreet but important role in campaigning the release  of a number of journalists who were detained by military regimes in Latin America. He will be sadly missed not least by Jimmy Burns ,who served as the Buenos Aires correspondent of the FT  during the 1980’s and who together with his wife Kidge owes his release from arrest by the military junta during the Falklands War thanks to Hugh’s vital support..

In the words of his of his eldest surviving daughter Frances: ‘He was a real life force.’

 Que en Paz Descanses, Hugh!"


A short obituary of Hugh can be read in the Guardian.