VETERAN broadcaster Gay Byrne has indicated he plans to leave his broadcasting career at RTE when he turns 80 next year.
Speaking at the launch of a new book, he told the Irish Independent: "I would like a bit more time to myself. If I make next August I'll be 80 years of age, and they tell me I don't look 80 years of age, but around that time you start thinking that maybe you could do with a little bit more time to yourself and a bit more time to do things."
He was speaking as he launched 'The Meaning of Life', which contains highlights of interviews with some of the country's best-known personalities from his TV show of the same name.
Earlier, he said: "What I am going to do is give up altogether. I would rather go before I was asked to go, before I am wheeled out on a trolley."
The decision will see the 79-year-old pulling the plug on his 'One Night Only' and an end to his Sunday radio show, the most popular programme on RTE Lyric FM.
It will also mean an end to his religious affairs show 'The Meaning Of Life'.
But he stressed he was "not retiring", adding: "So if I am still able to walk or ride a bike, I can decide to do something else. I don't have a free day in my diary at the moment."
The former 'Late Late Show' host said his timetable was hectic but this was nothing unusual.
Another 'Late Late' presenter, Pat Kenny, arrived at the launch just as Byrne was delivering a speech. Byrne quipped: "There's Pat Kenny coming in late. That wouldn't have happened if you were still with RTE."
Byrne later said he was unsure if traditional RTE listeners would follow Kenny to rival broadcaster Newstalk.
"I would say nobody will know anything until we start to get the figures. On the one hand, Pat has a terrific following and people will go out of their way to find out where Newstalk is. On the other hand, especially with older people, it's hard getting them to switch the button."
In attendance was former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who shook Byrne's hand and posed for photographs with presidential candidate Sean Gallagher, who was there with his wife Trish.
Also present was broadcaster Norah Casey, who appeared in the TV series and helped launch the book.
'Gay Byrne – The Meaning Of Life' is published by Macmillan and retails at €22.99.