Bergin, Liam Diarmuid (1913–94), newspaper proprietor and editor, was born 15 August 1913 at Athy Road, Carlow town, son of Patrick C. Bergin, publican and merchant, and Kathleen Bergin (née Conlan). Educated at Newbridge College boarding school, he joined the Nationalist and Leinster Times group of newspapers as a junior reporter. His maternal grandfather, Patrick Conlan (1852–98), founded the newspaper in 1883. In 1934 Bergin developed TB and, after some time at Peamount sanatorium, spent the winters of 1934–6 recuperating in Spain. Although appointed editor at a very young age he still managed to continue his travelling, visiting Germany and Italy (1938, 1939) often in the company of the Dutch writer and journalist Kees van Hoek, together interviewing some of the world's leading statesmen. In 1936 Bergin wrote a leader on the anomalous situation whereby King Edward VIII was under severe government pressure for wishing to marry a divorced woman, Mrs Wallis Simpson, at a time when a bill to facilitate divorce was under consideration at Westminster; Bergin's leader made the Nationalist the first newspaper in Britain or Ireland to break the strict blackout on news of the king's intentions.
Bergin showed considerable foresight just before the second world war in building up a large store of newsprint, soon to be a scarce wartime commodity. From 1944 he was both editor and manager of Nationalist Newspapers. Over the next forty years under Bergin the company grew from one with fourteen employees and the old hot-metal method of printing, to one employing forty and the most modern computerised type-setting and offset-printing machines. As editor Bergin set high journalistic and production standards for the newspaper, of which he was immensely proud. He was particularly gifted in layout, and the newspaper won major national and international awards including the Allen Hutt design award (1976).
Fluent in Spanish and German, he was a foreign news columnist for the Sunday Press and interviewed the West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the West German economics minister, Ludwig Erhard. As Irish correspondent for RIAS (the radio service in the American sector of Berlin), he broadcast a monthly commentary, contributed to a host of US and German newspapers, and was co-author of Sind die Deutscher wirklich so? Keen to foster young journalistic talent, he was the first Irish provincial editor to introduce the idea of work experience for trainee journalists, and convinced the journalism schools to do likewise. Among his protégés were James Downey, Olivia O'Leary, Fergus Black, Des Maguire, and Desmond Fisher. As an employer he was before his time in his support of trades unions, health schemes, and holiday funds for his employees.
In 1965 and 1970 Bergin was visiting professor of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where he recorded his great friend Eoin ‘The Pope’ O'Mahony (qv) talking about the central figures of the Irish literary revival. He was also instrumental in acquiring for the university the original manuscripts of the writings of ‘Myles na Gopaleen’ (Brian O'Nolan (qv)), who had written a series of articles for the Nationalist. He retired as editor and managing director in February 1985, though he continued to work as a consultant to the newspaper until his death. He devoted his retirement mostly to the reading of theology and spirituality.
President for many years of the Provincial Newspaper Association of Ireland, he was on its executive committee for over thirty years. A member of the International Press Institute, a fellow of the International Conference of Weekly Newspaper Editors, and a member of PEN, he visited Lesotho at the suggestion of the Irish government to advise the government there on the running of newspapers.
A large, slow-moving man, he smoked cigars and had a pointed hidalgo beard. Despite recovering his health after his bout with TB he was never robust, and throughout his life had to fight illness. Well read and unworldly, conservative and deeply religious, he was of a solemn, shy demeanour; his first love was Spain, which he knew very well and visited regularly. He also visited the Far East in 1968–9 and was a frequent visitor to the US and Canada, interviewing President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
In his earlier days he was an active sportsman, being an accomplished skier and rower. A founding member and later vice-president of the Old Carlow Society, he was a keen photographer and had his own darkroom. He died 6 January 1994 at St Gabriel's Hospital, Cabinteely, Dublin.
Late in life he married Rosemary Brueggemann. He had two stepdaughters and one stepson.