Tuesday 12 November 2019

Book of condolence for Gay Byrne opens in Dublin

The veteran broadcaster died aged 85 after a long illness.

By Aine McMahon, PA Ireland

Politicians, broadcasters and members of the public have been visiting the Mansion House in Dublin to sign a book of condolence for Gay Byrne.

The veteran broadcaster died aged 85 at home in Dublin following a long illness.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe opened the book to allow the people of the capital to express their sympathies to Mr Byrne’s family.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and RTE broadcasters Joe Duffy and Ryan Tubridy were among the well-known faces who arrived to sign the book.

Tubridy said he left the RTE studio in Donnybrook to go into the city to sign the book of condolence as Byrne had previously been awarded the freedom of the city.

“It is a difficult day and we in RTE are down a man and a good guy. I’m without a friend today but I’m not on my own. The whole country is mourning,” he said.

“I could have signed the book of condolence in RTE but I came into the city to sign it instead, he had the freedom of the city and his fans are here today too. I was a fan too and that is what fans do.

“We became friends afterwards and he taught me a lot. He was a family man. He wrote the rule book – we were all his students. So I’m just a student coming to say thanks.”

Mr Martin said: “It is a sad day but also an opportunity to celebrate such an iconic figure in Irish broadcasting.

“He had an extraordinary influence over the evolution of our nation and our society. He was a warm, reassuring voice on radio and television and opened up our society. Nothing was barred from discussion on The Late Late Show.”

Sharon Lee from Dublin said she was there to pay her respects “to the king of Irish radio”.

“I think it’s lovely that we can come here and sign a book of condolence and pay our respects to him in some way and to his wife Kathleen and their children,” she said.

“I was so shocked when I heard he died. I was sitting on the couch listening to the news and I actually burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it. It was like he was the father to us all.

“It was sad that he passed but we will always have fantastic memories of a wonderful man.”

Sean Latten from Dublin said he had listened to Byrne since he began his career and was saddened by his death.

“Everyone has a particular memory of Uncle Gaybo, as he was affectionately known.

“My particular memory of Gay Byrne is that every year, on the first of May, he always played for our Blessed Lady, Bring Flowers of Our Rarest, an old-fashioned Catholic song and that always struck a chord with me.

“I met him on one occasion after his show back in the early 1980s on Duke Street on Christmas Eve, and he said hello and wished me happy Christmas.”

The book of condolence at the Mansion House will remain open until 5pm on Tuesday.

A special live edition of The Late Late Show will be broadcast on RTE One on Tuesday night in tribute to Byrne.

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