The Champion of Sligo

Bernard McTernan T.C., 5-18-1868--5-19-1916, born in Sheskin, Killargue parish. Some newspaper clippings list his date of birth as 1859. His death certificate states that he died when he was 45 years old. That would make 1871 his year of birth. He died on Stephen Street in Sligo due to a accident while cycling that occurred two days previous. He had run into another cyclist at night. Bernard was married and the name of his wife may have been Jennie Donohoe, 1879-->1922, from the Townland of Tubercurry, Co. Sligo. They were married in 1908. She most likely lived past 1917.

Bernard, as a journalist and newspaper proprietor, achieved prominence in Sligo public life. At the age of 20 he left his native Killargue and took up journalism in Sligo. He joined the staff of the "Sligo Champion" and for seventeen years, first as a reporter and later as a managing director, he worked side by side with that great Nationalist and fellow countryman, P. A. McHugh, M.P. P.A.'s full name was Patrick Aloysius McHugh from the townland of Annagh, Glanfarne.

In 1902, as a result of a libel case and a verdict against the "Sligo Champion" for a sum of 3,000 Irish Pounds damages, McHugh, then in prison, was adjudged bankrupt and the printing offices were closed by the official assignee. However, continuity of publication was maintained by sub-editor, Bernard McTernan, who, with great courage and fore-sight, had the current issues of the paper printed at the "Freeman's Journal" office in Dublin. Subsequently, McTernan has been charged and found guilty of conspiring with McHugh of publishing "resolutions" in the "Sligo Champion" regarding a disputed farm at Springfield.

P.A. McHugh was born in Glenfarne in 1858. Shortly after McHugh's death in 1909 McTernan severed his connections with the "Champion" and launched his own Nationalist organ, "The Sligo Nationalist and Leitrim Leader", which was published weekly at Stephen Street. This was a well produced, highly informative newspaper and during its founder's lifetime enjoyed a circulation comparable with that of its better known and longer established competitors. One notable feature of the paper was its elaborately adorned 5" caption, surmounted by replicas of Sligo Town Hall and Creevelea Abbey, and with the arms of Sligo forming a centre-piece.

Bernard McTernan took a prominent part in the public life of his adopted county. He was a member of both Sligo Corporation and the Sligo Board of Guardians for many years. Throughout his life he was identified with the Nationalist Movement and on more than one occasion he was imprisoned for his unflinching adherence to patriotic ideals. He was a member of the United Irish League from its foundation and acted as Secretary of its North Sligo Executive until his death.

In his youth Bernard McTernan was a noted cyclist and he carried off numerous prizes at the sports meetings throughout the province, but his achievements on the track were somewhat overshadowed by his subsequent career in journalism and public affairs. For a time he acted as honorary secretary of the Sligo Wanderers Cycling Club.

Bernard McTernan's gentle and unassuming nature made him a popular figure in his adopted county and his premature death following a cycling accident at Carraroe in May, 1916, was widely mourned. Fellow journalist and Sligoman, James F. Cunningham, B. L., paid this tribute to his memory:

"As a journalist Bernard McTernan had been trained in the self-sacrificing school as Lieutenant to the late P.A. McHugh; as a sterling Nationalist, he was unique; as a friend, he was ideal; as an organizer, he was invaluable. We had been personal friends since the strenuous days of P.A. McHugh, and through thick and thin I always found him true as steel. He was just the type to help in building up the new Ireland, the very last man Sligo could afford to lose." (taken from a paper by John C. McTernan, Chief Librarian of Sligo Co.)

John C. McTernan's grandfather, Matt McTernan worked with Bernard as a newspaper man in his early years. John C. McTernan's family is from the townland of Corratawy, Drumahaire, Killargue Catholic parish which is on the southern border of Sheskin. and is not related to the Sheskin McTernan line. 

Michael McTiernan

N40 03' 09.4"
W75 24' 14.1"


Return to the top of page

Return to 8 Families Home Page