Tributes pour in for Ireland’s ‘true giant’ Gay Byrne

Celebrities, politicians and fellow journalists have paid tribute to broadcaster Gay Byrne after he died at the age of 85.

The RTE broadcaster and former Late Late Show host had been undergoing treatment for cancer.

The father-of-two died in Howth surrounded by his family.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wrote: “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.”

Fellow RTE presenter Ray Kennedy wrote: “His voice was the music score to so many of our childhood homes and the nudging along of a young nation. RIP Gay Byrne.”

Irish comedian and TV presenter Dara O Briain, called him a “legendary, instinctual broadcaster; that rarest thing, a gifted listener; and an interviewer of huge emotional intelligence”.

Irish broadcaster and actress Laura Whitmore paid tribute to Mr Byrne, calling him a “legend” and “staple part of so many homes”.

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 the UK, working for both the BBC and RTE, but returned 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.

Actress, comedian and writer Aisling Bea said: “He came to see my first solo show in Dublin for no other reason than he was interested in what young people were up to. His Late Late show episode where he calls a competition winner who had just lost someone is incredible.”

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