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Much-loved columnist passes away

IT is with great sadness that the UlsterHerald has learned of the death of its renowned weekly columnist, Stephen McKenna.
 
Stephen, 76, who passed away the early hours of Monday morning, contributed the ‘As The Man Says’ column for over 50 years.
 
Under the pseudonym Raymond Na Hatta, Stephen became a storyteller of renown and was widely regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost – and longest-running – local newspaper columnists.
 
First published in September 1968, Raymond Na Hatta’s mix of musings, memories and topical takes on local national and international events was a weekly window on life in Omagh and beyond for the next half-century.
 
Topical and humorous in equal measure, the column became an enduring institution in the pages of the UlsterHerald.
 
Born and reared in the Gallows Hill area of Omagh, Stephen’s knowledge of the town and surrounding district was unrivalled.
 
Indeed, one of the last legacies of Raymond Na Hatta will be the wealth of information that it provides on the history of Omagh.
 
He grew up at a time when many of the old traditions of local life were still prevalent, and his columns will forever remain as a record of those events and characters of days gone by.
 
In addition to his literary talents, Stephen was also renowned as a civil rights activist, teacher and local councillor, also serving a term as chairman of Omagh District Council.
 
Paying tribute, UlsterHerald editor Nigel McDonagh said, “Stephen was a wonderful, witty and deeply informative columnist who made such an important contribution to our community and local life.
 
“For over 50 years he kept us informed, amused and inspired in equal measure.
 
“We are all deeply saddened by his passing but also extremely honoured that he has left behind such a rich legacy of work in the archives of our newspaper that can be enjoyed by future generations.”
 
A full tribute to Stephen McKenna will be published in this Thursday’s UlsterHerald.
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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW