This year marks a momentous occasion for the students of Queen’s University Belfast.

Based in a small, minimalistic back office of their Students’ Union, the current editorial team of The Gown Independent Student Newspaper will be celebrating 60 years of untiring voluntary work in journalism and print media.

Founded in 1955 by American post-graduate student Richard ‘Dick’ Herman who was surprised to find that Queen’s did not already have its own regular newspaper, The Gown has survived and prospered as one of the longest-running independent student newspapers in the UK.

The Gown has seen it all, and been there too. Throughout its time The Gown has witnessed the highlights and lowlights of a tumultuous 60 years. The Northern Ireland peace process, the devastating consequences of terrorism, exclusive interviews with paramilitaries, and the endurance that saw the Berlin Wall fall; the student journalists of The Gown covered every significant event of the times.

There was the Rock ‘N’ Roll boom, the swinging Sixties, interviews with notable musicians including The Pogues front man Shane McGowan, and even a gig review in 1981 of a small band called U2.

In the sixties, under the successive editorships of Ian J Hill, John Trew (later Editor of the Belfast News Letter) and Cy Jamison, The Gown won a number of awards such as Ireland’s best university newspaper.

It later nurtured other well-known journalists including Mark Carruthers, Maggie Taggart, Don Anderson and Nick Ross (BBC); columnists Alf McCreary and Eamonn McCann (Belfast Telegraph); Peter Montellier (Editor, Newcastle Journal); Henry McDonald (The Observer); Conor O’Cleery and Martyn Turner (Irish Times). Other former editors such as Brian Garrett and John W. Wilson became prominent lawyers and David Montgomery has become one of Europe’s leading media tycoons.

It is these achievements and the accomplishments of many other past contributors across print and broadcast media that the 60th anniversary events celebrate.

The exhibition was officially launched on April 15 in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast where former Gown members from across the generations travelled far and wide to join in the celebration.

Gown team members 2014/2015 - Niall Coleman, Kaity Hall, Kylie Sharon Elizabeth, Ryan McDowell, Laura Shields and Niamh Mc Govern at Naughton Gallery. Picture by Tyler McNally.

Gown team members 2014/2015 – Niall Coleman, Kaity Hall, Kylie Sharon Elizabeth, Ryan McDowell, Laura Shields and Niamh McGovern at the Naughton Gallery. Picture by Tyler McNally.

An exhibition which opens tonight (Monday) at 6pm showcases a selection of the most striking covers The Gown produced over the years alongside some of its most noteworthy interviews and articles that feature in a special 60th anniversary programme.

Throughout the month of June the exhibition will feature in the 2015 Belfast Photo Fringe where it will remain on display at The John Hewitt Bar from June 1 – June 30.


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