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Friday 9 December 2016

'I can't think of a more kind gesture one man could make to another' - Tom Dunne and friends pay tribute to George Byrne on first anniversary

The late Herald film critic George Byrne's friends Tom Dunne (Today FM), Paul Whitington (Irish Independent), Ian O'Doherty(Irish Independent), and Paul Cleary (The Blades) pay tribute

Published 02/04/2016 | 06:02

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to George Byrne on the first anniversary of his death.

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The legendary journalist, who was a film critic for the Herald for several years, was highly respected and much loved by anyone who had the pleasure of getting to know him.

Speaking to Independent.ie for a tribute video (above) Today FM presenter Tom Dunne shared a poignant memory of his friendship with George, who passed away aged 57 on April 2 last year.

"There was one period in my life where my marriage was breaking up and George was concerned for me," he said.

George Byrne at his beloved Stamford Bridge
George Byrne at his beloved Stamford Bridge

"I was dropping him home one night and we were in the car and he kind of looked at me to see was I alright. Men don't ask themselves those questions so...

"He said to me, 'Tom if you want to come in I have some old videos of 'Match of the Day' from the 70's if you want to come in?' To this day I can't think of a more kind gesture one man could make to another."

On a lighter note, Tom recalled his favourite ever movie review written by George for the Herald.

"[The poster for] Sex and the City 2, if you remember, had the girls walking down a street in New York I presume, all dolled up.  His review of this was that they looked like a group of washed out old fag hags on their way to the karaoke in the George.  After you'd seen this you just couldn't look at the poster again.  It nailed it really!"

Joe Elliot interview with George Byrne
Joe Elliot interview with George Byrne

The Blades frontman Paul Cleary described George as a "very funny, intelligent, witty man, a very sensitive man, very loving person."

He added, "There are lots of stories I have about George but I can't tell them!  When I say that to people they assume the stories would be bawdy or lewd but he wasn't like that at all.  It was just the blackest of black humour."

George Byrne and singer/ writer Willie Vlautin pose outside Fair City's McCoy's Pub in 2008
George Byrne and singer/ writer Willie Vlautin pose outside Fair City's McCoy's Pub in 2008

Irish Independent writer Ian O'Doherty was a very close friend of George's and shared a funny anecdote about George appearing on RTE news.

"He was going out to do a thing on RTE on the news that night and when he realised they weren't going to have any make-up he did it himself at home," revealed Ian.

Anthony Bourdain and Herald writer George Byrne, Digges Lane, Dublin in August 2010
Anthony Bourdain and Herald writer George Byrne, Digges Lane, Dublin in August 2010

"It was like the Widow Twankey had a car crash!"

Fellow Irish Independent writer Paul Whitingon added, "George made himself up and I loved that about him. He made himself up, he did everything on his own.  You can't teach someone to write. He made himself up and I really liked that about him."

George Byrne and Louis Walsh in 2002
George Byrne and Louis Walsh in 2002

George's family and friends will mark the anniversary today (April 2) with a special toast to his memory at his favourite haunt, Fallons in the Liberties.

Speaking to the Herald, his sister Andrea Byrne said, "George was not a very religious person, so we think he would prefer people to have a few drinks and toast his memory.

"We will visit his grave [on Saturday] and then go on to Fallons afterwards, where we will share some funny stories and remember him.  That would be more up his street."

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