Pyle, Fergus Patrick d'Esterre (1935–97), journalist, was born 17 March 1935 in Dublin, the second of four children (two boys and two girls) of William Fitzroy Pyle (1907–89), a lecturer in English at TCD, and Amy Patricia Pyle (née Conerney). W. F. Pyle was a central figure in Trinity's English department: he published extensively on Shakespeare and Milton, was elected MRIA (1955), and became fellow and reader in English (1951) and associate professor of English (1971) at TCD. Fergus was educated at Aravon School, Bray, and at Campbell College, Belfast. He graduated from TCD with a BA in ancient and modern languages, and then attended Freiburg University. He worked for a period for Aer Lingus, in both London and New York. In 1961 he began a long and distinguished career in journalism when he was appointed junior leader writer, despite having no formal training as a journalist, for the Irish Times. Over the next thirty years he held a succession of the paper's most influential positions.
By 1965 Pyle had graduated to the post of features editor and in 1966, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter rising, he published an Irish Times supplement. This was later published as a book, which he co-edited with Owen Dudley Edwards, in 1968. As the political situation worsened in Northern Ireland he was appointed northern editor for the paper in 1967. It was an unusual step for a Dublin newspaper to base such a senior and respected journalist in Belfast, but his comprehensive and informative coverage of the North became a noted feature of the Irish Times, and he developed a great affection for Northern Ireland during his time there. He reported on the beginning of the civil rights movement, the last days of the Stormont government, and the general upsurge in violence during these years, often spending his days at Stormont and his nights reporting riots and shootings in Belfast. He covered these events with great energy and in such detail that it was often joked that his reports of proceedings at Stormont were longer than the Hansard reports. In 1971 he became Paris correspondent for the Irish Times, and held this post for two years. Following Ireland's successful entry into the European Economic Community in 1973 he was dispatched to Brussels to become European correspondent. His excellent French and German proved invaluable in his new postings.
Pyle replaced Douglas Gageby (qv) (1918–2004) as the tenth editor of the Irish Times in July 1974. He took over the paper at a difficult time: some senior journalists disagreed with his appointment, and the economic recession had resulted in falls in circulation and advertising revenues which necessitated major cost-cutting. During his tenure as editor, the Irish Times investigated allegations of abuse by the Garda ‘heavy gang’, which revealed ill-treatment of prisoners held in Garda custody. The decision to publish the reports was a courageous one. It broke new ground in investigative journalism in Ireland; as editor, Pyle insisted that specific names, dates, places, and times were to be checked and cross-checked. The Irish Times, however, was much criticised, with claims in the dáil that it was undermining the Gardaí and doing Britain's dirty work. During his tenure Pyle oversaw the expansion of the paper, with the creation of the weekend section which consolidated coverage of literature, the arts, television, and current affairs. However, circulation continued to fall, which in turn affected editorial resources, and the atmosphere on the paper was often troubled. Despite these difficulties, Pyle's enthusiasm rarely flagged and he was a popular figure among colleagues, but some questioned his suitability as editor. According to one, Pyle was ‘the best of company, generous, widely-read and principled’, though he was often disorganised, indecisive, and ‘had no experience of administration or management’ (Brady, 45). In 1977 a delegation of journalists informed the paper's owners that Pyle had lost the confidence of the staff, leading to his resignation as editor and his replacement by Douglas Gageby.
His alma mater, Trinity College, appointed him information officer of the college, a recently created position, but this new career path did not last long and he returned to the Irish Times as a journalist in 1981. His subsequent postings included a second term as northern editor from 1987 to 1990. In March 1990 he was sent to Germany, based initially in Bonn and then in Berlin. His presence in Germany and his fluency in German allowed him to report extensively and comprehensively on the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin wall and subsequent German reunification. When he returned to Dublin he became chief leader writer and assistant editor. After a short illness he died 11 April 1997 in Dublin.
In 1963 he married Mary Burrows, daughter of Rev. G. H. J. Burrows and his wife, Rachel (qv), and they had four children.