Ireland's loss is TV3's gain as RTE arrives late
FORCED to choose between Queen Elizabeth's visit to the National Stud and the death of Garret FitzGerald, RTE One opted to abandon live coverage of the former and to focus instead on the latter, which it did commendably well.
Una O'Hagan was the excellent anchor of this impromptu 11am programme, conducting unfussy and engrossing interviews with politicians from all parties, who had turned up in the studio to pay tribute to a man whom everyone agreed was the epitome of decency and honesty.
However, in opting to honour the former Taoiseach rather than see how the queen was faring in Kildare, RTE gave TV3 a free solo run at the royal event, which the commercial channel seized eagerly and accomplished with aplomb.
For the third day running Colette Fitzpatrick proved to be a relaxed and assured host, getting the most out of her panel of guests, not least equine expert Lissa Oliver, who was a fount of all knowledge in matters horsey. She was able to identify almost all the people to whom the queen was introduced and provided oodles of arcane equine facts.
And what did the panel think of the previous night's state banquet speeches by the queen and President Mary McAleese? Newstalk political analyst Shane Coleman thought it was pitch-perfect but then, paraphrasing that famous line from 'Jerry Maguire', he confessed that "she had me right at the start when she got off the plane in green".
Colette asked if it was true that David Cameron had been spotted shedding a few tears during Mary McAleese's speech and political groomer Terry Prone informed her that whenever the President makes speeches abroad she's so heartfelt in her delivery she invariably has her audience weeping.
Terry also revealed that while there would have been "at least 16 people" consulted on the queen's address, the redoubtable Mary always writes her own speeches.
Finally, at 11.50am, RTE One got round to live broadcasting from Kildare, but by then the royal party had just got into their cars to depart.