“A central figure in Irish homes for decades” – Gay Byrne dead at 85

“A central figure in Irish homes for decades” – Gay Byrne dead at 85

DUBLIN, Ireland – Tributes have poured in for veteran Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne who has died at ther age of 85.

Byrne hosted RTE’s “The Late Late Show” for almost 4 decades from 1962, and did the morning show on RTE radio until 1999.

“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,” the family said in a statement published on Monday.

“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.”

Tapoiseach Leo Varadkar led the tributes.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Gay Byrne, the most influential broadcaster in the history of the State and a much-loved figure who changed Ireland for the better in so many ways,” hen said in a statement released on Monday.

“Gay Byrne had a central place in Irish homes for many decades on radio and on television and the story of his remarkable contribution to Irish life is the story of how we changed and evolved as a society over the past 60 years. A consummate entertainer, he also provided a voice for all those who had been silenced or were afraid to speak up, and he forced us to confront things that needed to be challenged in our society.”

“As Chairman of the Road Safety Authority for almost a decade he spoke with feeling and understanding about the tragedy of road traffic deaths. When I was Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport I reappointed him to this role because I saw how his campaigning helped to save so many lives. I found him a wonderful public-spirited person who undertook his responsibilities at the RSA with the utmost seriousness and concern. He also spoke up for the whistle-blowers who exposed the abuse of the penalty points system and helped to bring about change,” Varadkar said.

“For generations of Irish people he was ‘Uncle Gaybo’, a welcome presence in every home, someone who led change because he listened and he cared. We have lost someone who was a voice for change and a force for good.”

RTE Director-General Dee Forbes said in a statement: “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.”

Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins added his tribute in a statement released on Monday. “It is with deep sadness I have learned of the death of legendary broadcaster, Gay Byrne,” he said.

“Having begun his career in broadcasting with Radio Eireann in 1958, he retained a love of radio as a medium. With the arrival of television he went on to become one of the most recognisable faces of Irish broadcasting, hosting one of the world’s longest running chat shows – The Late Late Show.”

“A man of great charisma, Gay Byrne was someone who exuded warmth and presence, who was possessed of effortless wit, charm and who had a flair for broadcasting. This was combined with an innate gentleness as a person, professionalism and humour,” President Higgins said.

“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. In doing so, he became one of the most familiar and distinctive voices of our times, helping shape our conscience, our self-image, and our idea of who we might be. Beyond compassion, which he had in abundance, he had a sense of what was just.”

(Photo credit: RTE).

Published at Mon, 04 Nov 2019 23:07:18 +0000