John Bowman as Chairman of the Board on RTE’s Questions & Answers bowed out in typical modest style on Monday night, bringing an end to a programme that often exposed the warts and somtimes compassion, in Irish society over the past twenty one years.
He was a master of the art; delicately probing and extracting the embattled politician, allowing the audience to ask the hard question, but oft times injecting a sense of play, with a topical question that might find its roots in the likes of the Roy Keane saga in Saipan.
The last Donegal participant on the programme from the North West was Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, who would certainly not have been expected to hold such an elevated position in government, when the programme began, over two decades ago.
Others will remember the big personality of people like former EU Commissioner Ray McSharry, at the table. More recently, it gave opportunities to astute politicians like Marian Harkin, to gain a bigger fan base.
And who could forget the likes of Ted Nealon, Neil Blaney or Paddy Harte.
The programme put a human face on countless reports, tribunals that seemed to drag on ad infinitm, the occasional trap (as witnessed in the 1990 Presidential campaign of the late Brian Lenihan) and the teasing and difficult questions of bringing peace to this island.
For us in the North West, Bowman was the ring master that was on our side, the expert that would extrapolate the message from the bullshit.
Bowman was the leader of men in this country, that we had so often craved for, from so many of the men and women (mainly men) that were on his panel, but who painfully fell short of the mark, on a multiplicity of occasions.
John Bowman, thank you, for the honesty and integrity that you brought to your role, something that should be aspired to, by a great many of those politicians that you interviewed down the years.
Monday nights will never be the same again and how the great institutions of this country are now going to be held accountable for their actions, remains to be seen.
For you were and indeed still are, the great educator.