It’s a sad day for showbiz.
Irish broadcasting legend and Late Late Show host Gay Byrne has passed away, aged 85, after a long illness.
The Dubliner presented one of the longest running chat shows in the world from 1962 until 1999, ending his 37 year run when Pat Kenny took the helm, later handing the baton to current host Ryan Tubridy.
From 1973 until 1998, Byrne presented The Gay Byrne Hour—later The Gay Byrne Show on RTÉ Radio 1 each weekday morning.
‘An exceptional broadcaster’
Paying tribute to her late colleague this afternoon, RTÉ Director-General, Dee Forbes said :”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.”
The Late Late Show production team has announced there will be a special live version of the show aired tomorrow night, Tuesday, November 5th at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) November 4, 2019
Having retired from his long-running radio and television shows, Byrne remained in the public eye in his later years, presenting several other programmes, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, The Meaning of Life and For One Night Only on RTÉ One and Sunday Serenade/Sunday with Gay Byrne on RTÉ lyric fm.
In 2006 he was elected Chairman of Ireland’s Road Safety Authority and in 2011, he was approached to become President of Ireland but declined to run, despite topping opinion polls.
In 2010, The Irish Times said Byrne was “unquestionably the most influential radio and television man in the history of the Irish State”.
There has been an outpouring of personal tributes on Twitter, including one from Cork podcaster and sports journalist Joanne O’Riordan, who was interviewed by Byrne on his programme The Meaning of Life:
Terribly sad news about Gay Byrne. A personal life highlight was when he presented me with bourbon creams on The Meaning of Life after I told him bourbon creams were like him – timeless and a classic. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. pic.twitter.com/Gjxds2ttxh
— Joanne O’ Riordan (@JoanneOR_Ox) November 4, 2019
Gay Byrne is survived by his wife, harpist Kathleen Watkins, their daughters Crona and Suzy and their families.