Gay Byrne: Veteran Irish broadcaster dies aged 85


In more recent years Gaybo had a much lower profile, but had still presented radio and television programme

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Gay Byrne was a giant in Irish broadcasting and a household name for many years

Renowned Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne has died at the age of 85.

Mr Byrne was a giant in Irish broadcasting and hosted the Late Late Show – for more than 30 years on Irish national broadcaster RTÉ.

RTÉ director general, Dee Forbes, said Mr Byrne had been a household name in Ireland for many years.

She said he was “an exceptional broadcaster” with a “unique and ground-breaking style”.

“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,” she said.

Mr Byrne had been ill for some time.

In a statement, his family said: “It is with sadness that Kathleen, Crona and Suzy wish to announce that their beloved Gay has died peacefully at home today, surrounded by his family.

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Gay and his wife Kathleen Watkins pictured in 2015

“We wish to thank everybody for their love and support during Gay’s illness. Particularly the wonderful teams in the Mater Hospital, St Francis Hospice and the Irish Cancer Society.”

Irish president Michael D Higgins said Mr Byrne was “a man of great charisma, one of the most recognisable faces of Irish broadcasting”.

“Through his work in radio and on television he challenged Irish society, and shone a light not only on the bright but also the dark sides of Irish life,” he said.

Byrne hosted the Late Late Show in a relaxed but intelligent manner.

The show made headlines with highlights such as a 1993 interview with Annie Murphy who had a child with the Bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke fell foul of the show in 1992 when he was coaxed into singing Oh My Darling Clementine on a day when seven Protestant workmen were killed in an IRA bomb.

The show embraced discussion on divorce, abortion and sexuality.

Gay Byrne also presented a long-running radio show which was first known as the Gay Byrne Hour and the Gay Byrne Show.

He also presented The Rose of Tralee, The Calor Housewife of the Year competition and as a range of special programmes.

Gay Byrne presented his final daily radio show in 1998 and his final Late Late Show the following summer.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, his daughters Crona and Suzy and his extended family.


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