Tuesday 12 December 2017

'The person we all looked up to': tributes paid to RTÉ's Cockburn

Bryan Dobson, left, and Charlie Bird, right, outside the church after Mass. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Bryan Dobson, left, and Charlie Bird, right, outside the church after Mass. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Gavin White

Glowing tributes were paid to the "incredibly credible" broadcaster Don Cockburn, who was known for so long as the voice of the nation.

Former RTÉ newsreader and journalist Cockburn died aged 87 in hospital in Dublin on Tuesday following a short illness.

The Mount Merrion native anchored RTÉ's main news bulletins during 30 years of service with the State broadcaster.

Leading the tributes at the funeral at the church of St Therese in Mount Merrion yesterday was his son John, who said in a moving eulogy that he was "regarded by many as a living saint".

A photo of Don Cockburn in the back of the hearse at his funeral. Picture: Caroline Quinn
A photo of Don Cockburn in the back of the hearse at his funeral. Picture: Caroline Quinn

John said his father applied to be a radio announcer, because of the "anonymity of that medium" when he first started out as a part-time newsreader.

"He cherished the purity of the relationship between the broadcasting voice, and its nuanced message, and the receptive ear.

"Radio, not television, was his core love, because as a member of a union he believed in the power of the vocal performance," he said.

He said long before the term fake news came into being, Cockburn knew that "news is inseparable from the credibility of the news caster and Don was incredibly credible".

Current RTÉ broadcaster Bryan Dobson described him as "the person we all looked up to".

"He was the template for how we went about our business," he told the Irish Independent.

Former colleague John Finnerty described Cockburn as a "precise news reader" and a "father figure".

Irish Independent

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