Gay Byrne (1934-2019)

Following the death yesterday of broadcasting legend Gay Byrne.

Via Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times:

He was everyone and no one. Everyone in the sense that his personal story mirrored the country’s.

He was a microcosm of Catholic Ireland from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Inculcated with the values of the Christian Brothers (June Levine, who worked with him as a researcher on the Late Late, wrote of him as at times being “like a Christian Brother of the nasty type Irish men have described to me, merciless, unreasonable, relentless in his attack on anyone who fell short”).

Emigrating along with everyone else in the 1950s. Returning to the burgeoning boomtime of the 1960s. Getting richer as the country got richer.

Suffering financial calamity in the 1980s when his accountant stole his money and publicly contemplating emigration again.

Working all the time in the gap between what the nation said it was and what it knew itself to be.

But also, crucially, no one.

Fintan O’Toole: Gay Byrne held the key to the nation’s locked room of secrets (Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times)



Via Pat Stacey in The Irish Independent:

….of all the tributes and assessments you’ll read in the coming days, the one aspect of his career that’s most often overlooked is his brilliance as a straightforward entertainment show host.

It’s captured best in a classic black-and-white ‘Late Late’ from 1970, which you can probably find on YouTube, featuring a glittering line-up of guests including Peter Sellers, Trevor Howard, Matt Busby and Eamonn Andrews.

This was the showbiz Byrne, the Byrne who delighted in comedy, in his element, doing what he loved – interviewing funny, talented, exceptional stars

Pat Stacey: ‘Gay Byrne was as good as anyone in showbiz, like him or loathe him, we were incredibly lucky to have him’ (


Will Hanafin, of RTÉ, tweetz:

At the end of his last ever Late Late Show season, Gay Byrne had had these crystal owls made by Waterford Crystal for us on his team – and he simply put – It Happened – at the base, to sum up 37 years of The Late Late Show.

Yesterday: To Whom It Concerns

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9 thoughts on “Gay Times

  1. Susan

    He never apologized to Anne Lovett’s family and friends. He never apologized to Annie Murphy. Are we allowed to query his supposed greatness, or is there still an embargo on it?

  2. Jeffrey

    RIP, a long career for sure! On the TV man, personally was a real bore to watch, much like 90% of irish presenters.

      1. V

        The posher the accent
        The bigger the scumbag

        In my experience anyway

        And btw
        It was 2 mill at a time when 2 mill would have bought you what could be now called a Dunner scale site in Ballsbridge

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