'My God we're going to miss you' - Rachael English thanks Cathal MacCoille as he retires from Morning Ireland after 16 years
Broadcaster Cathal MacCoille has retired from RTE Radio 1 after 16 years presenting Morning Ireland.
At the end of his final broadcast this morning his co-presenter on the current affairs breakfast programme, Rachael English, thanked him for "decency" and "kindness".
"I know you don't want a fuss so I promise no fuss... well maybe just a tiny little bit of fuss!" she joked. "On behalf of all of us first of all on Morning Ireland it has been our absolute privilege to work with you.
"Listeners will know your professionalism, your determination, your diligence, your good humour, your fondness for hurling. They might not be as familiar with your decency and your kindness, traits which are always welcome, but they're particularly welcome at 5.30 in the morning and you have those traits in abundance.
"So on behalf of our colleagues and on behalf of all of our fantastic, loyal listeners I'd like to say thanks and my God we're going to miss you."
MacCoille has been a presenter on Morning Ireland for twenty years, starting his second stint on the programme in 2001.
Speaking about the broadcaster, Managing Director of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, Jon Williams said, "His greatest legacy is the generation of RTÉ journalists who were shaped by working with Cathal - who he imbued with his values of decency, curiosity and rigour. He will always be part of the RTÉ family."
Colleague Aine Lawlor added, "When Cathal was returning to present Morning Ireland in 2001 I said to David Hanley who previously presented with him 'So what’s he like?'. He was a pol corr at that stage with TnaG, he used to come in and do great interviews with us. You’d see him up at the Belfast Peace Talks running round with his bike he brought up on the train and all that kind of craic. And Hanley turned around and he said 'He’s quite mad you know. But he is quite brilliant as you’ll see.' And then he paused and he said “He’s also rather nice”. And I think he was bang on.
"A quiet man, a quiet brilliant man. The soul of the programme. People talk about all kinds of things but I think Morning Ireland has a soul - a heathen soul – but a noble soul and I think it’s his. He embodies it and I wish him the very best."
Cathal added, "I do know for all kinds of reasons, nothing is forever and I also know that there are all kinds of other things that I want to do and will look forward to doing. I don’t know what they are yet, but I’ve got a few ideas!"
Cathal grew up in Clondalkin but now lives in Phibsoborough and his career began when he spent a summer editing the Irish language magazine Comhar before returning to his studies for a BA in History at UCD.
He worked as a researcher on several RTÉ radio programmes before getting his first job on the Nuacht desk in the newsroom in 1975. Cathal then worked as a reporter with RTÉ's Belfast staff for six years.
On his return to Dublin in 1984, he had spells presenting both the lunchtime news and This Week before starting a four-year stint as presenter of Morning Ireland in 1986. He then spent 11 years away from the programme, first as news editor and later assistant editor of the Sunday Tribune, then as TG4's political correspondent. He's been a regular on Morning Ireland since his return in 2001.
In 2011, he was named PPI News Broadcaster of the Year. Other awards include a Jacobs radio prize in 1990 and Oireachtas na Gaeilge Journalist of the Year in 2003.
Cathal says his most memorable professional experience was covering talks leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. "To be there was a privilege," he says, ”and a reminder that politics can progress, no matter how many delays and complications arise along the way.”
Cathal has also conducted interviews with poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi, economist Alan Ahearne and historian Joe Lee between 2009-2012 for RTÉ One television series One to One.
He currently also writes for Irish language news website Tuairisc.ie
He is married, and has four grown-up children.