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The Great Gay Byrne

Arguably the greatest Irish broadcaster of all time passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer last month.

Gabriel Mary Byrne (85) was born in Dublin. He grew up in Rialto in the Liberties. He attended Synge Street CBS. Gaybo went on to have an illustrious career on both radio and television that spanned over 50 years. 

He was the first face of ‘The Late Late Show” from 1962 to 1999, he set the precedent for the show leaving a brilliant blueprint for those who followed like Pat Kenny and Ryan Tubridy.

The late broadcaster enthralled listeners every morning on his morning radio show and he brought a nation together as most of the country watched him on the television at the weekend. 

On TV and radio, his shows tackled massive issues such as divorce, abortion and LGBTQ rights, issues that were usually hidden from the public eye, he spoke about real issues and real people. “He had a charisma that enabled him to be good at his job but he was also very charming and he got into the hearts of his listeners,” one older listener said.

Byrne died on November 4th, and on Tuesday the 5th there was a Late Late Show special dedicated to the life of the show’s former presenter. The show demonstrated how many people respected and were touched by the man. It was made up of an audience that had the likes of  President Michael D Higgins, Tommy Tiernan, Bob Geldof, Joe Duffy and many more as they reflected on Gay’s life. A weekday Late Late show wouldn’t be done for many people, but it was fitting for him given his long and successful career on the show.

Claire Bowes was left blinded for life by the Omagh bomb at the age of 15. She appeared on the Late Late a few months after the bombing. Her courage and the way Gay Byrne dealt with the interview touched the nation, and she was in attendance at the special show last month to remember him. 

An Omagh resident told The Liberty: “The Omagh bombing was a tragedy that affected everyone in the town and probably even the whole country and when Claire came on national television it just made everywhere more aware but it was also beautiful to see how positive she was, despite her horrible ordeal.” 

Gay Byrne’s funeral was filled with people on the streets and in the church. His legacy will live on forever; people like him only come along rarely and he left a lasting legacy for all young journalists and broadcasters alike. 

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