Presidents, Prime Ministers and Taoisigh - there are few people Eamonn Mallie did not interview during his distinguished career as a journalist.

His career took him across Northern Ireland, and now his memoirs - which are released today (Thursday, February 15) - will track and share his journey as a journalist during war and peace in the place he calls home.

The book is detailed and serves not only as a history of a career in journalism, but also as a memoir of The Troubles and the Peace Process.

It is unique in how well it spans its contents across Northern Ireland, from Mr. Mallie’s rural childhood in South Armagh, and indeed to County Fermanagh, where he maintained a strong book of contacts.

Detailing some of the Fermanagh players in politics and history in his book, he recalls how he learnt how a motion for Bobby Sands to stand as an election candidate in the 1981 General Election didn’t get passed on the first vote of cumainns (societies) in Monaghan in 1981.

“Scores of people making their way to the Monaghan meeting had been stopped by an Ulster Defence Regiment patrol and held up for so long that the first vote had already happened by the time they arrived.

“Gerry Adams argued that a second vote should take place because there were so many latecomers.

"The second vote got the green light. On April 9, 1981, Sands was elected.”

Mr. Mallie revealed how in the same election cycle, under the invitation of June Gawley (“what a lady”) along with other journalists, he was invited for a drink in the Ulster Unionist Party headquarters, where he ended up in conversation with Harry West.

“I always got on very well with him. He was a countryman, he was older than I was, he was a farmer, and there was always something I found very attractive about him.

"He was gruff and to the point. I think he liked me; he always engaged with me.”

Mallie asked Mr. West about his thoughts on a United Ireland, but it was Mrs. West’s answer that caught the reporter’s attention.

Another valuable contact was the late Gerry Burns, former Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council, who helped get the reporter close to former US President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Mallie explained: “There is a lovely little anecdote. Gerry Burns was in the White House, I slipped over to Gerry and warned him that I was going to try to get a few words with Clinton [as they met], and Gerry says to the President: 'This is a decent lad from home. He’s a reporter, maybe you’ll have a word with him?'

“That was Gerry Burns - he was a practical, sensible man who dealt with situations in a practical way.”

Former MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone, Ken Maginnis also gets a mention for how he inadvertently helped protect Gerry Adams' dignity when his zipper broke.

“There is a great story about Ken Maginnis on [the US chat show] Larry King, with Gerry Adams.

"Adams' zip went [broke] on his trousers when he was larking about in the Green Room before going on Larry King, and there was a Sunday Times [newspaper there].

“During the interview, there was something in The Sunday Times newspaper that wasn't very complimentary to Adams, and Ken read this out.

"Adams asked Maggnis to have a look at the paper, and he held on to the paper.

"He came out to do a press conference, and he had The Sunday Times in front of his crotch, and I asked Richard McAuley [Adams’ Press Officer] what was that about?

"And he told me that the zip went on Adams' trousers before going on air, and Ken's newspaper shielded him from his embarrassment when he came out!”

Alongside such anecdotes, there are a wide range of figures from across Northern Ireland, the UK, Ireland and the USA who are mentioned within the pages of his book.

“I met some very good men; I document people who I consider close to heroes, like Fr. Gerry Reynolds, Fr. Alec Reid, Rev. Harold Goode and Rev. William Bingham, who stood out against the Orange [Order, during the Drumcree dispute in Portadown] when the Quinn Boys were killed [July 21, 1998 in a firebomb attack in Ballymoney].

“Gordon Wilson - he was one of those rare, rare, rare people.

"I remember interviewing him after meeting the IRA. He went to see the IRA despite the fact that the IRA had killed his beautiful daughter, Marie.

"I've met some extraordinary people, and I document the great people."

The book will interest anyone with an interest in Northern Ireland, as Mallie has interviewed them all. One section of note is his friendship and working relationship with the Rev. Dr, Ian Paisley.

“I couldn’t agree with Ian Paisley about anything. I always took the position it wasn’t my job to agree or disagree - it was to get the story, and boy, did he leak some great stories to me in his time.”

However, he fondly recalled how after taking ill while working on a documentary on the firebrand preacher turned statesman, Dr. Paisley phoned him to pray for his recovery.

“I was brought up in the Catholic faith, and the Catholic priest was within four steps of my bed.

"He wheeled right and walked away. Two or three minutes later, the former moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church was praying down the line for my recovery! You couldn’t make it up!”

Discussing why he chose to write his memoirs, he said: “My wife, Detta, always wanted me to put down a record of the life I lived, for my children and my children’s children yet unborn.

"Her vision was a private account of my life as a journalist.

"This is the ninth or tenth publication in which I have been involved either personally or co-authored, so I knew this was going to be a very serious record of the time of my life.

“And I thought, I am presumptuous and arrogant enough to think that my life had been sufficiently interesting that other people might want to read it.

"It could prove to have been delusional, but there you go. You wouldn't be a journalist, you wouldn't press as hard as I did, professionally, if you weren't egotistical and half-praising."

Reflecting on his long and storied career, he said: “I was sort of addicted to journalism; I was addicted to my work.”

Eyewitness to War and Peace: My Life in News, by Eamonn Mallie, is released today (February 15) and is published by Merrion Press.