Friday 24 November 2017

Ryan Tubridy pays heartfelt tribute to late Hugh Cooney: 'I hugged Hugh and I said ‘thank you’... he was extraordinary'

The remains of Hugh Cooney are taken from the church in Foxrock following his funeral mass
The remains of Hugh Cooney are taken from the church in Foxrock following his funeral mass
Former Enterprise Ireland chairman Hugh Cooney, who has died after a battle with terminal colon cancer. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy has paid a warm tribute to former Enterprise Ireland chairman Hugh Cooney, who passed away on Monday.

Mr Cooney bravely told the Sunday Independent, and subsequently the Late Late Show, about his two-year long battle with stage-four colon cancer to raise awareness among Irish men.

Mr Cooney in his final days was a strong advocate of middle age men getting colonoscopies, which he said could have made the difference in saving his life.

The 63-year-old Tullamore native died at his Dublin home surrounded by his family.

This morning, Ryan Tubridy told his listeners how Hugh was an “extraordinary” man for speaking about his cancer battle while he was physically weak.

“He had a very full life, and when we spoke [some years ago in Washington], I liked him immediately. He was one of those people that you just click with.”

“Every so often you meet someone on the Late Late Show and it kinda knocks you out by their bravery.”

“It was [a difficult interview] in many ways but he was an extraordinary man to come in and see us.”

“He wasn’t in a great state physically as you can imagine, and yet, he built himself up probably at some risk to himself, to come on the Late Late Show to tell everybody about the message that he wanted to share which was to men in particular.”

“By the time he came on the Late Late show, while he was certainly brimming with life and enthusiasm, physically he had diminished somewhat, but not in a sense of spirit.”

Tubridy also paid tribute to Hugh Cooney’s daughters who had so much love for their father.

 “Sitting in the front row, in my eyeline, to the periphery of my vision were his daughters who were beautiful people who were watching their dad do something extraordinary [on the Late Late Show].”

“Their eyes were glistening for the whole of the interview. I can only imagine how difficult it was for them, and then you wonder how hard it was for Hugh… It was a particularly poignant visit to that green room because his daughters were so loving, and so loving of their dad.”

“They were gathered around him like a phalanx of support which was quite beautiful to see in full flight. I hugged Hugh and I said ‘thank you’ and I was really hopeful to see him again, that this isn’t goodbye, it’s ‘see you later’. But it wasn’t to be the case, it was goodbye.”

Tubridy offered his condolences to Mr Cooney’s wife Nuala, and his daughters Eva, Fiona, Gwen and Laura, and his brother.

The RTE broadcaster also appealed to Irish men to check their health.

“I think it’s fair to say that Irish men in particular, who are useless at things like medication and health and talking about it, and checking ourselves… we’d rather talk about what’s happening in sport or at work, but certainly not in our physiological lives.”

“That’s what Hugh wanted to say, that men ignore problems with their bodies, we don’t talk to GPs and doctors and get checked up. That was his message – look after yourselves and get checked up, because he felt in some ways, people he knows and to some extent, in his own way, he felt he didn’t.”

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