Moloney, William J. (1885–1968), linguist and journalist, was born in Limerick city on 28 May 1885. He was educated in the Redemptorist College there, and in 1900 he attained first place in the country in the intermediate certificate examination in Irish and Greek. The Celticist Osborn Bergin (qv) composed the poem ‘Do gharsún do rug an phríomh-dhuais sa Ghaedhilg’ in honour of the occasion. He subsequently matriculated for the RUI in 1903, and studied at UCD. He became friendly with Bergin, with whom he remained in correspondence throughout his life, generally writing in Irish. During a summer holiday in Kilkee, Co. Clare, around 1901/2, he collected two stories in Irish from an elderly woman he met there. These were later published under the title ‘Dhá sgéilín ó Chill Chaoi’ in Béaloideas, xxv (1957).
On his graduation (1906) he moved to Egypt, where he was employed as a journalist for the Egyptian Standard. With the help of John Dillon (qv) he was soon appointed assistant editor and later became chief editor of the paper. On leaving Egypt in the autumn of 1908, he was engaged for a brief spell as correspondent for the Manchester Guardian in Constantinople. From 1908 he was employed by Reuters news agency, first in Constantinople and then in Teheran, where he was appointed staff correspondent and established a Reuters news service. With the outbreak of the first world war he returned to Constantinople but then had to leave for the island of Mytilene. On his way there he was delayed in the Dardanelles, where he observed contact between Turkish and German naval officers. His report, which stated that the Turkish officers had warmly embraced the Germans, was considered a scoop for Reuters, as Turkey had not yet entered the war. He returned to London early in the war and was appointed Reuters special correspondent in Paris, later following the French government to Bordeaux. In 1915 he was sent to Holland to take charge of the Reuters operation and opened a second office in Amsterdam, remaining there until the end of the war. He was transferred to Copenhagen for a brief period and from there moved to Berlin (1920), where he opened a Reuters office. In 1923 he was appointed general manager of Reuters in India and remained there until 1937, when he was recalled to London to serve as joint general manager of the agency in London. He retired from the post in 1944.
A gifted linguist, he had various degrees of fluency in a number of different European and Asiatic languages including French, Italian, German, Norwegian, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Hindu. Throughout his life he retained a love for the classics and always carried small volumes of the works of Horace or Ovid in his back pocket. He also enjoyed writing verse in Latin, and his Christmas carols in that language were published in The Times annually on Christmas eve.
A contemporary and friend of Hanna (qv) and Frank Sheehy-Skeffington (qv) from his time in university, he remained in correspondence with them from abroad. Their correspondence is preserved in the NLI and affords some interesting insights into his life. Regarded by friends and acquaintances as a delightful conversationalist, he was also a connoisseur of fine wines and a skilful woodworker; on his retirement he asked for a set of wood-working tools. He died 16 February 1968 in Hampshire, England.
He married (21 November 1911), in Athens, Catherine, daughter of Francis Elliott, British ambassador to Greece; they had one son and one daughter.