Gay Byrne has passed away at the age of 85, RTÉ has confirmed.
RTÉ Director-General, Dee Forbes, today paid tribute to Mr. Byrne: “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.”
Born in Dublin on August 5, 1934, Gay Byrne grew up on the South Circular Road. He started work as a newsreader and continuity announcer on Radio Éireann in the late 1950's 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 RTÉ, but came back to Ireland full time in the late 1960’s as presenter and producer of The Late Late Show. The programme went on to become the world’s longest running chat show.
Gay Byrne 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. He won a Jacob’s Award for the programme in 1976.
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. Gay Byrne 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.
Gay also returned to his first love – radio – and presented Sunday with Gay Byrne. His loyal listenership on RTÉ lyric fm shared in his love of big band and jazz programme.
Gay is survived by his wife Kathleen, their daughters Crona and Suzy, and their families.