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Legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne was feeling "full of life, energy and gratitude" on the eve of his eightieth birthday.

"I can't stress the intense gratitude I feel for getting this far," he told the Irish Independent.

"I'm very thankful I am still in good health and have made it to 80. I don't feel 42 anymore but I certainly don't feel as old as I am. I'm still full of life and energy."

Byrne turns 80 today and is marking the occasion with a "small get together" in County Donegal surrounded by his family and a few friends from his local walking club.

"My daughters have organised a little get together and I am hopeful there will be a decent birthday cake," he said. "It should be a nice and quiet celebration. I don't like organising this sort of thing so have let them take the reigns."

The youngest of five, Byrne grew up on the South Circular Road and went to school at the Christian Brothers on Synge Street which he believes grounded him.

"After Synge Street, the rest of life is a doddle," he wrote in his biography 'The Time of My Life'.

Byrne's television career began in Granada, Manchester, in the 1960s where he became the first person to introduce The Beatles on TV screen.

He went on to become one of the defining faces and voices of RTE presenter flagships series such as 'The Late Late Show' (1962 - 1999), 'The Rose of Tralee' and 'Calor Housewife of the Year'.

"You do start to reflect," Byrne said. "But the overwhelming feeling is one of appreciation and thankfulness. It is a special day."

Irish Independent

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