September 17, 2021

‘He challenged Irish society and shone a light’ – President leads tributes to Uncle Gaybo

Tributes have been pouring in for legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne who passed away earlier today after a battle with prostate cancer aged 85.

President Michael D Higgins Gaybo as a man “of great charisma and someone who exuded warmth and presence”.

“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.

“Beyond compassion, which he had in abundance, he had a sense of what was just”.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he 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.

“On radio and on television over so many decades ‘Uncle Gaybo’ provided a voice for all those who had
been silenced or were afraid to speak up, and helped us confront things that needed to be changed.”

A book of condolence will be opened at Dublin’s Mansion House tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11am until 5pm and from 10am until 5pm on Wednesday.

Current host of The late late Show, Ryan Tubridy said: “It is with enormous and profound sadness that I heard of the passing of my friend and mentor, Gay Byrne.

“He was the master, a once off and the likes of which we will never see again.

“I watched him as a child, worked alongside him as a young man and he guided me as I grew older and I will forever be indebted to him.”

Liveline’s Joe Duffy added: “More so than any one individual, Gay Byrne represented modern Ireland
and through his daily broadcasting on radio and television he propelled this country and its people forward.

“In no other country can one individual claim to have had such a positive impact on an entire nation
over such a long period.

“Ireland is a better country thanks to Gay’s lengthy career behind the microphone at the centre of public discourse.”

RTÉ Director- General Dee Forbes added that he “was an exceptional broadcaster whose unique and ground-breaking style contributed so much to the development of radio and television in this country”.

Ms Forbes said RTÉ is “greatly saddened” and added his journalistic legacy is “colossal”.

“He not only defined generations, but he deftly arbitrated the growth and development of a nation.

Chair of RTÉ Moya Doherty, the Riverdance producer, described him “as a close and cherished friend
for many years.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Gay has left an indelible mark, not only on Irish broadcasting, but on Irish society as a whole and said he was “a rare treasure who touched the lives, not only of his family and friends, but the hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed him into their lives on the radio
and TV.”


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