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'I’m absolutely bowled over' - broadcasting legend Sean O’Rourke hangs up his mike

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Sean O’Rourke. Photo: Frank McGrath

Sean O’Rourke. Photo: Frank McGrath

Sean O’Rourke. Photo: Frank McGrath

Broadcasting legend and political commentator Sean O’Rourke (64) has hung up his microphone after decades in radio and print journalism.

Tributes poured in for the last ever 'Today with Sean O’Rourke' radio programme on RTÉ Radio One, where listeners, politicians and his colleagues shared their memories on the show with the journalist, who will now begin his retirement.

Mr O'Rourke began his career in print journalism, working for the Connacht Tribune, The Sunday Press and later The Irish Press, joining the state broadcaster in 1989.

He first worked in the News and Current Affairs newsroom, later moving to the Radio Centre and presenting Morning Ireland and This Week.

In 1995, he began working for the News at One radio programme and finally took the presenter’s chair on his own show at the weekday mid- morning slot after Pat Kenny left for rival Newstalk.

Comedian Oliver Callan came on the show this morning to do his famous impressions, where as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he joked that “not all superheroes wear capes, some wear the ear off you on radio for 30 years”.

In his impression of RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, the comedian joked that Miriam paid tribute by adding: “It’s been great to hear you fill on Today with Miriam for all these years”.

Texts from listeners were also read out throughout the programme, where one said that Sean had a “sexy Western accent”, calling him a “comfort” and a “broadcasting legend”.

“I’m absolutely bowled over, I didn’t know any of this was coming,” said Sean in response.

“We need to get over ourselves a bit here,” he added.

In audio messages, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid his own tribute, saying that before coming on the show, “you always make sure you’re prepared when you go into interview.

“As my party colleagues have discovered, some interviews would go very badly,” he added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said that the broadcaster was “very informed and had great attention to detail” while Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald called him a “formidable interviewer” and “not one to stand off on an issue”.

He finished his career earlier this afternoon by breaking two stories, bringing an exclusive that the National Ploughing Championships were cancelled due to the pandemic and breaking an embargo by 10 minutes to say that religious sisters of charity will be donating Religious Sisters of Charity €200m worth of sites at the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group.

Some of his most memorable interviewees include former Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey and President Donald Trump.

Sarah McInerney will fill the two hour weekday slot for the coming months until a replacement is found for the show.

While Mr O'Rourke will now begin his retirement, the Irish Independent reports today that he has “a fair bit left in the tank yet” and is in talks with RTÉ about doing work during his retirement.

Online Editors