Farewell to all that for TV's Michael
AND it's goodnight from him. After 45 years with RTE, one of the country's favourite broadcasters finally hung up his microphone yesterday.
Michael Ryan (67) -- a veteran of Frank Hall's 'Newsbeat' programme in the 1970s and who helped found the hugely popular 'Nationwide' show 18 years ago -- retired after a final filming assignment at a Christmas market on Cork's Grand Parade.
"It has been tremendous fun, I have loved every single minute of it," he told the Irish Independent.
"I may be finishing up but I know that 'Nationwide' will continue going from strength to strength with Mary (Kennedy)," he added.
The popular broadcaster was congratulated by well-wishers attending the Christmas market -- and his co-presenter said his natural charm with people was one of the key ingredients of the success of the show.
"He was a pleasure and a joy to work with. He had such warmth in dealing with people and that was why the programme has been so popular," Ms Kennedy added.
Mr Ryan revealed that he was finishing up on his last day without a major party or any fanfare. "We're having a lunch in the English Market with the crew once we're finished filming, that's it," he said.
"Then it is time to shuffle off into the sunset," he joked.
But Ms Kennedy, who has worked alongside Mr Ryan for almost a decade, thought differently.
"He'll more likely bound off into the sunset -- it'll be new challenges and wonderful things for Michael," she said.
While the Dublin-born journalist, who started his career with the Irish Independent, officially retired from RTE two years ago, he had continued working on the 'Nationwide' programme on a contract basis.
However, he was informed last month that his contract was not being renewed because of financial constraints facing RTE.
Mr Ryan said he left RTE with fond memories, and added that he felt it was "a fair approach" given that RTE were now in a situation where they also had to let young freelancers go. "I've had a wonderful time over the years -- it has been fantastic," he said.
Mr Ryan has been based in Wexford for over 30 years.
He joined RTE in 1966 and went on to serve as their south-eastern correspondent before helping found 'Nationwide'.
His wife Ann was killed in a car crash in 1995 and Mr Ryan devoted himself to raising their three children.
However, he found love again and married Elisabeth McCollum in 2010. He now plans to devote a large portion of his retirement to travelling the world with Elisabeth, but hasn't ruled out broadcasting projects in the future.
His final 'Nationwide' show will be broadcast next Friday.
RTE will also broadcast a special programme on Mr Ryan's final days with the station, and has had a special TV crew following him for the past fortnight.