Former News Letter columnist Ralph ‘Bud Bossence was ‘one of great forgotten writers’

To mark 50 years since the death of News Letter columnist Ralph ‘Bud’ Bossence his friends and fans of his work are having a get together in his favourite bar.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:11 pm
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:16 pm
The 50th anniversary of the death of the News Letter columnist Ralph 'Bud' Bossence will be marked by an event in the Duke of York pub
The 50th anniversary of the death of the News Letter columnist Ralph 'Bud' Bossence will be marked by an event in the Duke of York pub

Bud died in November 1971 and a month after his passing a selection of his columns was compiled in a book by the News Letter’s then features editor, John Trew.

John said: “Bud was a gifted humourist. There was hardly a column that he wrote that didn’t give at least one laugh out loud moment.

“I spent every night and every weekend of the month of November of 1971 trying to find the very best of the Bud Bossence articles.

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John Trew edited the best of Bud's columns into a book

“As I said in my foreword, I was looking to distil the essence of Bossence.

“I must have succeeded because there weren’t many books that were selling in that quantity at that time.”

Bud was educated in America after his family moved to Detroit when his father, an engineer, got a job with the Ford Motor Company.

Upon his return to Belfast Bud got a job at the Northern Whig in 1935, then the Belfast News Letter in 1947.

John said: “Bud was something which was very unusual. He was a writer who came from a socialist background.

“He was a member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party and he wrote for a paper which was owned by a family which included Captain Bill Henderson, who was the chair of the Ulster Unionist Party at that time, and who was from time to time an MP at Stormont.”

The Henderson family owned the News Letter from 1844 until 1991.

John said: “Bill was fighting elections against the Northern Ireland Labour Party – the party which was supported by his main columnist, Bud. It was quite remarkable.

“In saying that Bud didn’t spend much time arguing about politics, his main preoccupations were with things like his wee dog.”

Writer and broadcaster Malachi O’Doherty has helped to organise a get together next Wednesday (November 3) to remember Bud on the 50th anniversary of his death.

He said: “A few of us will gather in the upper room of the Duke of York where Bud was a regular, and read a few of our favourites among his columns.

“If you remember Bud or his writings or even if you would just like to hear about him and hear some of his work read, please come along and join us.”

Malachi commented: “Ralph ‘Bud’ Bossence is one of our great forgotten writers.

“He wrote political analysis but also light and homely reflections on the life of a solitary rotund man who enjoyed a pint of Guinness. He was a humourist and a bit of a philosopher.

“He was prolific and wrote pieces even from his hospital bed in his last days, brightening our lives with his stoicism and his astute observations of ordinary life.”

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Ben Lowry