Late broadcasting legend Bill O'Herlihy (76) to be honoured at the Aviva
"The people of Ireland loved Bill"
Published 25/05/2015 | 12:02
"The people of Ireland loved Bill," a close friend of Bill O'Herlihy said following the death of the much-loved broadcaster this morning.
The retired television broadcaster passed away this morning.
Mr O'Herlihy was best known as the long-time presenter of RTE's soccer coverage.
He celebrated his retirement from the national broadcaster at the end of the World Cup last summer.
Flags flew at half-mast at FAI headquarters in Abbottstown after news of O'Herlihy's death and FAI CEO John Delaney announced that a special tribute would be paid to the broadcaster at the Aviva next month.
"We'll pay a special tribute to Bill at one of our upcoming games against either England or Scotland, in recognition of what he did for football," he said.
"He was a great advertisement for football. He was on that tremendous panel and , but for Bill, the panel would have not been the success it became."
And close friend Frank Flannery said he was the nation's favourite.
"I'm very shocked and sad," the former Fine Gael strategist said this morning
"Bill was very, very unique, a very unique person," he told Newstalk radio.
Watch the tribute to Bill O'Herlihy broadcast the day he retired from RTÉ, and his final TV farewell https://t.co/TWCCqYeeFp— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 25, 2015
"A hugely generous great friend to have, he's been a friend of mine since 1981.
"He was a very close and best friend, a wonderful friend and colleague. He was a great professional./
"He was full of life, he had great enthusiasm.
"He showed great positivity for the future," he continued.
"He's going to be an enormous loss - it was a great shock to get, just to get that phonecall from a mutual friend this morning was a great shock.
"The people of Ireland loved Bill O'Herlihy.
"He was great fun, enormous positivity."
Noel Curran, Director-General, RTÉ, said: “Everyone in RTÉ is devastated at today’s news. Bill O’Herlihy was a giant of the sporting and broadcasting worlds in this country.
Grew up watching Bill O'Herlihy. He was working on a new show for RTÉ One at the time of his death earlier, his family says #RIPBill— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) May 25, 2015
We'll leave it there. Interviewed him several times, what a lovely man. #RIPBill— Nobby (@NobbyFM104) May 25, 2015
So sad Bill O'Herlihy has passed away after retiring from RTE so recently. Two giants of broadcasting, Bill and Derek Davis, gone too soon.— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) May 25, 2015
RIP Bill O'Herlihy. You expertly ran one of the greatest and undoubtedly the most entertaining sports panels of all time. Legend. #RIPBill— Feel Good Lost (@brendan_canty) May 25, 2015
#RIPBIll No one did it like O'Herlihy.— Danny O Driscoll (@dangdriscolls) May 25, 2015
#RIPBill Absolutely crazy... What a legend, will never be replaced!— Matthew Lambe (@Matt_Lambe) May 25, 2015
“His contribution to broadcasting was utterly unique. For decades he was at the centre of some of Ireland’s greatest sporting moments.
“He never hid his emotions on those big occasions, from disappointment to utter joy, and for this he was greatly loved. But he was also a fantastic broadcaster and interviewer, getting the very best out of his interview panels and provoking debate and insight, and for this he was also hugely admired.
“Our sincere sympathies go to Bill’s wife Hillary, daughters Jill and Sally, grandchildren, family, friends and colleagues.”
Bill suffered a number of health scares throughout the years, including a heart attack at the age of 45 in 1984.
O'Herlihy also had a health scare in the mid-1990s when he suffered a severe heart attack and was forced to have a triple bypass.
Speaking about the heart attack he suffered in 1984, Mr O'Herlihy previously told the Irish Independent.
"I'd a lot of work stress then. I had been reluctant to go back on television in case I would get another health scare, but my consultant asked me if I wanted to be a heart attack cripple or someone who was living life as normally as possible and that set my mind straight."
Bill, who lost his mother and two sisters to cancer, also suffered from the disease seven years ago and had part of his colon removed.
He was given the all-clear after the operation and told he would not have to undergo chemotherapy.
He said after the operation: "I had part of my colon removed, but I'm absolutely fine now. Haven't looked back."
Friend and former colleague Johnny Giles recently described Bill as a 'great broadcaster and a true legend'.
The veteran presenter retired at the end of the 2014 World Cup, his 10th as RTE anchor after his debut in 1978.
The public relations executive described his broadcasting career – which has almost spanned five decades – as "wonderful" as he worked in news, features, current affairs and sport.
He picked the Irish penalty shoot-out against Romania in the 1990 World Cup as the highlight of his career, particularly the celebrations in the studio.
“The 1990 World Cup was unbelievable it was the first time we qualified and was a very, very special time. That was the year George Hamilton coming up with the great line, ‘the nation holds its breath’".