The Rewind

Ireland Reacts To The Passing Of Broadcasting Legend Gay Byrne

Ireland Reacts To The Passing Of Broadcasting Legend Gay Byrne

Irish broadcasting legend Gay Byrne has passed away. RTE confirmed the news with a statement this afternoon.

He died peacefully surrounded by his family after a long illness. He was 85 years old.

Byrne presented The Late Late Show from 1962 until 1999, had a daily radio show on RTE 1, and later presented a weekly show on Lyric FM until 2017.

He was a unique voice in Irish broadcasting, a larger than life figure in the formative years of television. He regularly challenged the establishment view and was seen a force for modernity in a conservative and often backwards country.

Since his passing was confirmed, many of his former colleagues and fans have reacted with great sadness to the news.

RTE Director-General Dee Forbes said, "We are all greatly saddened by the passing of Gay Byrne who has been a household name in this country for so many years. Gay was an exceptional broadcaster whose unique and ground-breaking style contributed so much to the development of radio and television in this country. Gay’s journalistic legacy is as colossal as the man himself – he not only defined generations, but he deftly arbitrated the growth and development of a nation. Ireland grew up under Gay Byrne, and we will never see his like again. My deepest sympathies to Kathleen and his family.”

Liveline presenter Joe Duffy, who first became known as a reporter on Byrne's radio show, also reacted:

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More so than any one individual, Gay Byrne represented modern Ireland  and through his daily broadcasting on radio and television he propelled this country and its people forward. In no other country can one individual claim to have had such a positive impact on an entire nation over such a long period. Ireland is a better country thanks to Gay’s lengthy career behind the microphone at the centre of public discourse.

He brightened and enlightened the lives of so many people through his broadcasting, his charm, wit, voice, and wonderful command of the English language. His broadcasts were a public joy, a personal pleasure and comfort to so many.Like so many I feel his passing as a deeply personal loss. He was a generous mentor and good friend to me, as he was to so many.

Above all, condolences  to his wife Kathleen, his loving daughters Susie and Crona, his sons in law and his  much loved grandchildren, who have been such a support to him in his very difficult illness.He worked hard all his life. He searched for meaning, and gave meaning to so many. His death is heartbreaking but I, like so many, am very thankful for his life.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Ryan Tubridy, who now presents The Late Late Show and the 9 o'clock slot on Radio 1 also offered his condolences. "It is with enormous and profound  sadness that I heard of the passing of my friend and mentor, Gay Byrne. He was the master, a once off and the likes of which we will never see again. I watched him as a child,  worked alongside him as a young man and he guided me as I grew older and I will forever be indebted to him. We in RTÉ have lost a friend, a family have lost a father and a husband and the country has lost an icon. May he rest in peace."

As befitting Byrne's contributions, President Higgins has also released a statement on his passing, as has the Taoiseach.

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Across Ireland, others have been sharing their sadness at the news and stories about what made Gay Gay.

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RIP Uncle Gaybo!

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