04 November 2019 22:53
The death has been announced of RTÉ broadcaster Gay Byrne. 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. "We wish to thank everybody for their love and support during Gay's illness. After first airing in 1962, The Late Late Show went on to become one of the world's longest running chat shows thanks to Byrne's relaxed but knowledgeable presentation style. Gay also presented a long running radio show on RTÉ Radio 1, first known as the 'Gay Byrne Hour' and then the 'Gay Byrne Show'.
The show had a close relationship with its listeners who were encouraged to write in and then phone Gay to comment on the issues of the day and with their own stories. A native Dubliner, Gay grew up in Dublin 8 and attended Synge Street CBS. From an early age he was fascinated by showbusiness and radio and did some early work on sponsored shows before joining Raidió Eireann in the late 1950s. He then moved to Granada Television in Manchester where he worked on current affairs and entertainment shows, interviewing acts including The Beatles. For a time he commuted between Dublin and UK, working for both the BBC and RTÉ but came back to Ireland full time in 1967 as presenter and producer of The Late Late Show.
After first airing in 1962, The Late Late Show went on to become one of the world's longest running chat shows thanks to Gay's relaxed but knowledgeable presentation style. A proud Dubliner, Gay grew up in Dublin 8 and attended Synge Street CBS before moving to Howth, where he and wife Kathleen raised their family. In more recent years, the Byrnes moved across the city to set up home in Sandymount. From an early age Gay was fascinated by showbusiness and radio and did some early work on sponsored shows before joining Raidió Eireann in the late 1950s. Gay presented his final daily radio show in 1998 and his final Late Late Show the following summer.
RTE director-general Dee Forbes paid tribute to Mr Byrne. Gay Byrne, a great friend, colleague and broadcasting legend. "We are all greatly saddened by the passing of Gay Byrne who has been a household name in this country for so many years," she said. Born in Dublin in August 1934, Gay grew up on the South Circular Road. He started work as a newsreader and continuity announcer on Radio Eireann in the late 1950s before moving to Granada Television in Manchester, where he worked on a variety of shows, interviewing acts including The Beatles. For a time he commuted between Dublin and UK, working for both the BBC and RTE, but came back to Ireland full-time in the late 1960s as presenter and producer of The Late Late Show. The programme went on to become the world's longest-running chat show. He also presented a long-running radio show on RTE Radio 1, first known as The Gay Byrne Hour and then The Gay Byrne Show. Over his long career Gay presented The Rose of Tralee, The Calor Housewife of the Year competition, as well as a range of special programmes. He presented his final daily radio show in 1998 and his final Late Late Show the following summer. However, he did not retire from public life, becoming the chairman of the Road Safety Authority and presenting other acclaimed television shows, including The Meaning of Life. He is survived by his wife Kathleen, their daughters Crona and Suzy, and their families. Gay Byrne was the most influential broadcaster in the history of the State, a much-loved figure who changed Ireland for the better in so many ways. Mr Byrne was described as a man "of great charisma" by Ireland's president Michael D Higgins. Mr Higgins added: "Gay Byrne was someone who exuded warmth and presence, who was possessed of effortless wit, charm and who had a flair for 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. Broadcaster Ryan Tubridy was among those who paid tribute to Mr Byrne. "It is with enormous and profound sadness that I heard of the passing of my friend and mentor, Gay Byrne," he added. "We in RTE have lost a friend, a family have lost a father and a husband and the country has lost an icon." Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin said: "Gay Byrne has left an indelible mark, not only on Irish broadcasting, but on Irish society as a whole. "Through his radio programme and TV shows, including his 37 years as host of The Late Late Show, Gay was a feature in Irish homes the length and breadth of the country. "Gay Byrne was a rare treasure who touched the lives, not only of his family and friends, but the hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed him into their lives and their homes on the radio and TV." In 1973, the hugely-popular Gay Byrne Hour began to air on RTÉ Radio 1. It ran until 1998 and remained one of the most listened to radio shows in the country. LEGENDARY broadcaster Gay Byrne has died at the age of 85. The beloved telly star had been battling a long period of ill health. 5 Gay Byrne has died aged 85 Credit: Alamy He passed away at home surround by his family earlier today. Confirming the heartbreaking news, RTE said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of RTE broadcaster Gay Byrne. Paying tribute, RTE's 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. "Ireland grew up under Gay Byrne, and we will never see his like again. My deepest sympathies to Kathleen and his family." President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the telly icon, calling him a "man of great charisma who was possessed of effortless wit and charm". Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy said that Byrne's loss has left a "profound sadness" and that "the country has lost an icon". Born in Rialto, Dublin, on August 5 1934, Gaybo first joined the State broadcaster in 1958 where he presented a 15-minute jazz show every Monday night on Radio Eireann. On July 5 1962, he became the presenter of The Late Late Show where he would become a broadcasting legend. He would return to the programme as a guest on two occasions during Ryan Tubridy's first season as presenter. In April 2009 he began presenting a programme called The Meaning of Life where he interviewed high-profile figures about life, faith and meaning. He also presented a long-running radio show on RTÉ Radio 1, first known as The Gay Byrne Hour and then The Gay Byrne Show. The show had a close relationship with its listeners, many of whom wrote to or phoned Gay to comment on the issues of the day, and with their own stories. Gay also presented The Rose of Tralee, The Calor Housewife of the Year competition, as well as a range of special programmes throughout his distinguished career. His wife Kathleen Watkins previously told how his battle had "taken its toll" over the past year - but that he still had his sense of humour. He is survived by Kathleen, their daughters Crona and Suzy, and their families. 5 Gay Byrne presented The Late Late Show for almost 37 years Credit: Getty - Contributor 5 Byrne and beloved wife Kathleen Watkins Credit: Alamy 5 He opened up on his prostate cancer battle on his RTE Lyric FM show in late 2016 Credit: Alamy