O'Sullivan, Terry (1911–80), journalist and broadcaster, was born 7 November 1911 at 25 Addison Road, Fairview, north-east Dublin, as Thomas Phelan, son of William Phelan, bookkeeper, and Mary Phelan (née Joyce). Later forms of his name were ‘Tomás O Phaloin’ (signature at marriage) and ‘Tomás Ó Faoláin’ (during army service). He was educated at O'Connell's CBS in Dublin. He worked first (1930–35) as a schoolteacher at Dún Laoghaire CBS, where his nickname was ‘Flash’, a tribute to the dapper dress style which was a hallmark throughout his life. He left to join the Hungarian Tourist Board, for whom he worked as a courier. He then served in the Irish army as a lieutenant (1939–45) at headquarters, before spending six further years in the tourism industry, working as a counter clerk with the Irish Tourist Board in its O'Connell St. offices. He was later presented with a UDT Endeavour Award for tourism.
From the late 1940s he embarked on a career as a journalist and was invited to join the Irish Press group by its then general manager, Seán Lemass (qv). He wrote first for the Irish Press and the Sunday Press until he moved (September 1954) to the newly launched Evening Press, writing a fledgling column called ‘The night reporter’. Ultimately this column evolved into the hugely popular ‘Dubliner's diary’, which ran for more than twenty years and offered a pot-pourri of social, cultural, and political life in the city. He was sometimes the subject of controversy, notably when he made scathing comments about local politics, or intemperate remarks about travellers. His journalism won him various awards, however, including that of Journalist of the Year.
While working in the newspapers he made numerous programmes for Radio Éireann. His first radio broadcast had been in 1942, when he was chosen to do the commentary on the Arbour Hill 1916 commemoration; he began broadcasting regularly in 1947, adopting the pseudonym ‘Terry O'Sullivan’, from his father-in-law's name. He later worked with Eamonn Andrews (qv) on ‘Microphone parade’ and was then given his own programme, ‘Musical quiz’. He continued to broadcast on RTE for several decades.
He married (3 January 1938) Kathleen (Katherine, Catherine) O'Sullivan, of 122 Clonliffe Road, daughter of Terence O'Sullivan, a post office official; they had six daughters and three sons. One of his daughters, Nuala O'Faolain, became a well-known journalist, writing extensively for Irish and British newspapers, including the Irish Times and Sunday Tribune. She also wrote a best-selling memoir of her life, Are you somebody? (1996), which detailed her father's alcoholism and unconventional lifestyle. The family lived for many years at 2 Seapark, Mount Prospect Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3. He died 5 December 1980 at St James's Hospital and was buried at St Fintan's cemetery in Sutton.