The Irish Sun

Originally launched in the UK in 1964 by the International Publishing Corporation, The Sun was originally aimed at a socially radical middle class readership but struggled to find that audience and by 1969 the paper was losing £UK2m each year. When IPC decided to sell off the title in 1969, it was acquired by Australian newspaper magnate, Rupert Murdoch, who had made his first major UK acquisition - The News of the World - the previous year. Since the News of the World was only published on Sundays, The Sun offered an opportunity to keep Murdoch’s presses running throughout the week. Both papers would be subsequently be run as sister publications, printed on the same presses and sharing senior management.

The post-Murdoch relaunched Sun was unrecognisable from its predecessor: adopting the tabloid first, the paper’d editorial was overtly populist, not to say sensationalist, a tone most overtly expressed by the introduction of the “Page Three Girl” (a topless model) from 1970 onwards. Though initially left-leaning (apparently reflecting owner Murdoch’s then political leanings) it began to move to the right in the mid-1970s and endorsed a vote for Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party in the 1979 election.

The Sun was first sold in Ireland from May 1976 following an expensive launch campaign. Sales briefly climbed to 28,000 before settling at around 20,000. However, just four months later the paper withdrew from the IRish market, citing difficulties negotiating with the unions representing the printing staff tasked with producing additional copies for the Irish market.

The paper was relaunched in February 1986, on an initial print run of 50,000. The Irish edition was essentially identical to the UK version, although advertising for contraception (the sale of which was still largely prohibited in Ireland) and UK football betting pools were removed.

By 1987 the Sun was selling 23,000 - 25,000 a day in the Republic (although this was well behind sales of the rival Daily Mirror which sold 65,000 - 70,000 in Ireland). It was also dwarfed by sales of The Sun in Northern Ireland where, despite a much smaller population (one quarter that of the Republic), The Sun sold 85,000 copies a day).

The Irish Sun was launched in 1992 (at which stage the paper was still selling 23,000 copies a day). By the end of 1996 this had leapt to nearly 90,000 a day.

Although retaining the same tabloid format and mode of address, the Irish edition of the Sun often adopted a very different editorial stance to the UK edition, one shaped by local politics. For example, in 2002, the overtly Euro-sceptic UK edition of The Sun described the introduction of Euro in 2002 as a huge error, while the Irish edition adopted a largely neutral approach.

In 2012, the paper effectively became a seven day operation following the closure of The News of the World as a result of reputational damage suffered by the latter following revelations about its use of illegal surveillance. At its 2007 peak the Irish News of the World had sold 154,000 copies each Sunday and was still selling over 120,000 weekly at the time of its closure. Established in the context of a universal decline in print sales, The Irish Sun on Sunday would struggle to match these figures. Sales dropped from 64,000 in 2012 to 45,000 by 2019 and 29,000 by mid-2023.

As for the daily edition, Irish sales would peak in late 2007 at 107,000 copies a day. Following the 2008 financial crash, and in line with the rest of the print publishing sector, sales declined, albeit at a faster pace than almost any other paper (with the exception of the Irish Daily Star). By 2015, sales had halved to 57,000 though they would plateau at around this level until 2018 when they began to fall again. ABC figures for mid 2023 suggest that circulation now hovers around 31,000.

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Content Type

Paid Content

Data Publicly Available

ownership data is easily available from other sources, e. g. public registries etc.

2 ♥

Media Companies / Groups

News Corporation


Ownership Structure

Although the newspaper publishing activities of News Corporation in Ireland are frequently identified with “News Ireland”, the only company with this specific name is entirely separate from News Corporation. As of the beginning of 2023, the only News Corporation newspaper company listed with the Irish Companies Records Office appears to be News UK and Ireland Trading Limited. The most record financial statement filed by this company described it as engaged in the “provision of personnel resources and administration services” to other members of the News UK group within the Republic of Ireland.
Printed copies of the Irish Sun make no reference to the companies above. Instead they identify their publisher as News Group Newspapers Limited, headquartered at London Bridge Street, London. There are four intermediary owners between News Group Newspapers Limited and the ultimate global owner, News Corporation. The Murdoch Family owns the largest single shareholding in News Corporation.

Individual Owner

Media Companies / Groups

General Information

Founding Year

1964 (UK Edition)

Affiliated Interests Founder

Cecil Harmsworth King

Born in Hertfordshire 1901, King was raised in Ireland. His father Lucas White King was professor of languages at Trinity College Dublin. His mother was the sister of Alfred Lord Harmsworth, founder of the Daily Mail Newspaper and the Daily Mirror. After Lord Harmsworth sold the Daily Mirror in 1935, Kiong joined the paper as director of finances after 1935. With journalist Hugh Cudlipp, King transformed the Mirror into a mass circulation, left-leaning tabloid addressing a working class audience and, as its peak, achieved a circulation of over 5m copies a day) .
By 1958 King was chairman of Daily Mirror Newspapers Limited. Between 1958 and 1961, the company acquired two rivals - Amalgamated Press and Odhams press creating a single entity which owned two national newspapers, two Sunday papers, a book publishing division and over 100 consumer magazines and comics. These were reorganised as the International Publishing Company ( IPC) in 1963.
In 1968, King reportedly sought to convince Lord Mountbatten, an uncle of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, to stage a coup to remove the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He wrote a front page for the Mirror calling for Wilson’s extra-legal removal and insisted that the paper publish it. This led the IPC to engineer King’s own removal for bringing the paper into disrepute.
In 1974 King moved to Dublin where he lived until his death with his second wife under his death in 1987. after a long illness.

Affiliated Interests Ceo

Lachlan Murdoch

CEO of News Corporation, the ultimate global owner of the Irish Sun, and since September 2023 sole chair of both News Corporation and Fox Corporation, son of Rupert Murdoch.

Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief

Kieran McDaid

Has been editor of the Irish Sun since 2016. He studied Media and Philosophy at the University of Ulster from 1996 to 1999 and completed a Diploma in Newspaper Journalism at the same university in 2001.
He initially joined the Irish Sun as a news editor in 2006. After a brief stint as a deputy news editor at the Irish Independent, he returned to work with News International in 2009, where he worked as Head of Content on the Irish Edition of the News of the World (until it was closed in 2011 as part of the fallout relating to the UK edition’s involvement in phone hacking). He became Head of News at the Irish Sun in 2011, a position he retained until promoted to Deputy Editor in 2014 and subsequently to full editor.
As of 2021 he also sat on the Code Committee of the Irish Press Council which works to keep the Press Council Code of Practice for journalists under review.


News Ireland

2nd Floor, Macken House

39/40 Mayor Street Upper

Dublin 1 D01 C9W8


Financial Information

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Further Information

Meta Data

Within the media industry in Ireland reporting on income levels are generally at group level rather than individual title level. On top of this, overall revenue details for the market as a whole are unavailable. Due to these factors it is not possible to report accurately on market share for individual titles or groups.

There is currently no standard audience measurement available for print and online news titles in Ireland. Individual titles publish data on readership or users but measurement parameters and sources vary between organisations, therefore it is not possible to report an accurate audience share for the purposes of this project.

Lachlan Murdoch is listed as CEO, as there is no evident CEO of News Media Ireland. The company has not responded to a request.

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