Thursday 22 February 2018

President leads tributes to RTÉ 'gentleman' Davis

Derek Davis
Derek Davis
Derek Davis with his wife Una
Derek Davis backstage at the the Rose of Tralee in 1995
Derek Davis with Thelma Mansfield on ‘Live at Three’
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A devastated Thelma Mansfield has paid an emotional tribute to her fellow 'Live at Three' host Derek Davis, describing him as "a consummate professional" and a "dear, dear friend".

The broadcaster died at the age of 67 after suffering a stroke.

He is survived by his wife Una and three sons, Michael, Colm and Sean - one of whom was travelling home from Korea after learning of his father's death.

Tributes poured in for the popular RTÉ star who had been a quintessential part of the landscape of Irish television since the 1970s, with President Michael D Higgins commenting that Mr Davis had "exuded a natural charisma, warmth and inquisitiveness, had a great sense of humour and in every sense was a gentleman".

RTÉ director general Noel Curran described Mr Davis as a "hugely popular" man, both with audiences and with his colleagues in RTÉ.

"He was one of the first presenters I worked with as a television director and he was always generous with his time and advice, then and after.

"He was full of humour and warmth and was one of the most versatile presenters RTÉ has seen," he said.

Speaking from her home in Connemara, Ms Mansfield, now a respected painter, described his death as "the saddest thing in the world", revealing that she had always maintained her great friendship with Mr Davis down the decades and had recently met him for lunch when they had chatted "for hours".

"He was in brilliant form - he was extraordinary," she said.

Mr Davis had been "right as rain" until Sunday and had even been out with former 'Live at Three' colleagues last Friday night.

As a colleague, Mr Davis had been "a consummate professional, and the most reliable human being to work with", she said.

From 1986, Mr Davis co-hosted RTÉ One's 'Live at Three' with Ms Mansfield. It ran for 11 years.

He presented the televised 'Rose of Tralee Selections' in 1995 and 1996 and was called in to replace Gay Byrne in 1995 due to illness.

He hosted an interactive summer show, 'Davis', and returned to the screen in the late 1990s with a marine programme, 'Out of the Blue', which ran for four series.

His latest appearance on television was in 'Celebrity Bainisteoir' in 2008, when he coached Glasdrumman to success and is still fondly remembered for his warmth of personality.

Peter McGrath of Down GAA, who was Mr Davis's mentor, recalled how he had arrived for the first training session on a wet night armed with a gigantic kit bag and quipped: "Don't worry everybody, it's just my lunch."

Entertainer Twink, who worked with Mr Davis on the 1980s show 'Play the Game', described the death of her "buddy in the business" as a terrible shock. "He was a real renaissance man and a terribly affable fellow," she said.

Mr Davis's funeral will take place next Monday in Mount Jerome.

Irish Independent

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