Monday 5 December 2016

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

Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy at John Giles Book launch in the AVIVA Stadium in 2010
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy at John Giles Book launch in the AVIVA Stadium in 2010
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy

"The people of Ireland loved Bill," a close friend of Bill O'Herlihy said following the death of the much-loved broadcaster this morning.

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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.

RTE World Cup RTE host Bill O'Herlihy in the studio with grandchildren (from left) Bill O'Herlihy-Ryan (4), Jack Conlon (5) and Martha O'Herlihy-Ryan (5)
RTE World Cup RTE host Bill O'Herlihy in the studio with grandchildren (from left) Bill O'Herlihy-Ryan (4), Jack Conlon (5) and Martha O'Herlihy-Ryan (5)

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.

Bill O'Herlihy during the Italia '90
Bill O'Herlihy during the Italia '90
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy in the studio with grandchildren (from left) Bill O'Herlihy-Ryan (4), Jack Conlon (5) and Martha O'Herlihy-Ryan (5)
John Giles, Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy
Bill O'Herlihy presenting RTE's Munich Olympics coverage in 1972
Bill O'Herlihy with John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup Final
Bill O'Herlihy and Babs Keating at the Excellence in Sport Awards in Dublin.
Bill O’Herlihy launching the DSPCA’s free online will drafting service with Glenda, an eight-week-old Chihuahua cross in 2014
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O Herlihy and wife Hilary at the screening of "The Price of Desire" in March of this year
Bill O'Herlihy hosting his last World Cup for RTE. Photo: Damien Eagers
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy and his wife Hilary
Bill O'Herlihy with RTÉ soccer pundits John Giles and Eamon Dunphy in 1998
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O’Herlihy prepares for another broadcast in RTÉ as the veteran broadcaster calls time on his illustrious career with World Cup 2014 coverage. Photo: Ronan Lang.
Bill O’Herlihy, John Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy in studio
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy alongside RTÉ soccer pundits John Giles and Eamon Dunphy
RTE sports pundits John Giles, Liam Brady, Eamon Dunphy and Bill O'Herlihy join local soccer star Gary Kelly at the launch of the Camino 'Walk for Cancer' in aid of the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre in Drogheda.
Pictured at The Aviva Stadium to launch The John Giles Foundation Walk of Dreams in 2012 were;, John Giles, Bill O'Herlihy, Liam Brady and Paul McGrath.PIC CO'R...HX
RTÉ sport presenter Bill O'Herlihy alongside RTÉ soccer pundits and former Republic of Ireland internationals John Giles and Eamon Dunphy
Bill O’Herlihy
RTE's Bill O'Herlihy with his granddaughter Isla Conlan at his book launch in 2012. Photo: Collins
Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy

"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.

"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./

Bill O’Herlihy prepares for another broadcast in RTÉ before the veteran broadcaster calls time on his illustrious career with World Cup 2014 coverage. Photo: Ronan Lang.
Bill O’Herlihy prepares for another broadcast in RTÉ before the veteran broadcaster calls time on his illustrious career with World Cup 2014 coverage. Photo: Ronan Lang.

"He was full of life, he had great enthusiasm.

"He showed great positivity for the future," he continued.

Bill O'Herlihy
Bill O'Herlihy

"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.

Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy at John Giles Book launch in the AVIVA Stadium in 2010
Bill O'Herlihy and Eamon Dunphy at John Giles Book launch in the AVIVA Stadium in 2010

"He was great fun, enormous positivity."

Read More: Roddy Doyle pens tribute short story on Bill O'Herlihy: 'D’yeh know what it is - ? He made me happy'

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.

“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.

Read more: 'Ah come on now Eamon, that's out of order' - A look-back on Bill O'Herlihy's greatest TV moments

“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.

Read more: 'I missed the RTE studio and would consider new roles' – Bill O'Herlihy in one of his final interviews

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.

Read more: Tributes pour in following death of beloved broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy

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’".

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