BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Doug Ireland, a journalist whose political instincts and engagement were honed during the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, will be remembered at a memorial service planned for Thursday, March 27, 6 p.m., at the CUNY Grad Center’s Proshansky Auditorium at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.
[Editor's note: The memorial was originally planned for March 12 but has now been rescheduled for March 27.]
Ireland, who was 67, died at his East Village home on October 26 of last year.
Ireland’s fierce commitment to his work — both in politics and journalism — was a hallmark of his entire life. After joining the Students for a Democratic Society as a teenager, he worked with labor unions and Democratic candidates throughout the 1960s. In 1968, Ireland joined the anti-war presidential campaign of Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and later managed the successful bid by anti-war Democrat Allard Lowenstein for a Long Island congressional seat. Two years later, he ran iconic feminist Bella Abzug’s insurgent and winning campaign for a House seat from the West Side. In 1976, Ireland headed up Abzug’s US Senate campaign, in which she was narrowly edged out by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Democratic primary.
Those who knew Ireland during this period recall a cigar-smoking political operative who knew everyone on the local scene and was sought out for his advice and know-how.
His journalism career began in earnest in the mid-1970s and lasted until his death. Over the course of nearly four decades, Ireland was a contributor to the New York Post (in its old liberal days), New York magazine, the Nation, the Village Voice, POZ magazine, LA Weekly, and French publications including the daily Libération and the online Bakchich. Ireland’s history in politics served him well as a journalist. Micah Sifry, his editor at the Nation in the 1990s, said, “He was probably the most knowledgeable person I had encountered on the ins and outs of New York politics and national politics. I was always learning at his knee.”
During the 1980s, Ireland lived in France, where he reported on global human rights issues. It was there that he met his lover Hervé Couergou, who died of AIDS in the mid-1990s.
During his last eight years — while he suffered chronic pain, at times debilitating, and frequent hospitalizations related to diabetes, kidney disease, severe sciatica, and weakened lungs and progressive muscle deterioration caused by childhood polio — Ireland served as the international contributing editor at Gay City News, demonstrating his skills as a dogged political reporter and uncompromising human rights advocate as well as an insightful book critic on an astonishing range of topics.
Among those remembering Ireland on March 27 will be his New York magazine editor John Berendt, author of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Pete Hamill, a former columnist at the Daily News, the Post, and the Village Voice, author, actor, and activist Malachy McCourt, and composer and conductor David Amram.