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Thursday 23 February 2017

Farewell to our 'greatest television journalist'

Kevin Keane

Published 27/10/2011 | 05:00

The late Cathal
O'Shannon
The late Cathal O'Shannon

Broadcasting has lost one of its finest practitioners, mourners at the funeral of veteran journalist Cathal O'Shannon heard yesterday.

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Mr O'Shannon, who died in hospital last Saturday at the age of 83, was "a most loveable man, a wonderful friend and a great colleague", TV producer Paul Cusack said.

Mr Cusack told those gathered in Glasnevin Crematorium Chapel that Mr O'Shannon, a former RAF gunner, had that most enviable of broadcaster's gifts -- "a seductive voice, warm, calm and intimate."

"Some years ago Terry Wogan described Cathal as the greatest television journalist that this country ever produced and I agree with that," Mr Cusack said.

He described Mr O'Shannon's famous RTE interview with Muhammad Ali in 1972 as a "master class in how to draw out the details of a person's life in what appeared to be a casual conversation."

Mourners included former colleagues Gay Byrne, Bill O'Herlihy, Tom McGurk, Sean Duignan, RTE director general Noel Curran, 'Riverdance' chief John McColgan, actor John Kavanagh, movie producer Noel Pearson and Supreme Court Judge John Murray.

Retired RAF members Alan Harrison, Patrick Long and John Connolly also attended.

Commandant Michael Tracey represented Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Prayers of intercession were read by Mr O'Shannon's friends Lelia Doolan, Moya Doherty, Ingrid Cragie and Ellen Cusack.

In his homily, the former head of religious programmes at RTE, Fr Dermot McCarthy spoke of Mr O'Shannon's great loss following the death of his beloved wife Patsy in 2006.

A large portrait of Mr O'Shannon commissioned by Patsy stood beside his coffin.

Fr McCarthy said the writer and documentary maker "lived life to the full" and had "that rare quality as an interviewer of being able to draw people out seemingly effortlessly".

Irish Independent

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