Sunday 16 December 2018

The life and times of Gay Byrne

Born: Dublin, 1934. Raised in Rialto, then South Circular Road.

Educated: Rialto National School and Synge St Christian Brothers, which he attended "with fear and trembling", describing the Brothers as "brutal".

Married: "A gorgeous girl with red hair who played the harp and sang" called Kathleen Watkins. Adopted daughters Suzy and Crona.

Height: Not much. Once confessed "I'd like to be as tall as Brendan O'Reilly", the beanpole sports commentator.

Early career: Failed to land a job with Guinness, where his father worked. By 1958 was triple-jobbing as an insurance clerk, a variety compere, and host of radio space soap The Planet Man.

First brush with greatness: During short stint with Granada, introduced first ever Beatles TV appearance.

When opportunity knocked: He grabbed it. The Late Late was scheduled as a six-week summer filler for 1962. Made it his own until 1999.

Celebrated Late Late moments: Bishop & The Nightie affair where woman joked she wore nothing on wedding night and county councils demanded Gaybo's sacking. FF's Pee Flynn on the tribulations of living on a huge salary. Terry Keane exposing her affair with Charlie Haughey. Refusing to shake hands with Gerry Adams. Controversial interview with Annie Murphy, mother of Bishop Casey's son.

Longest radio saga: Early 1980s. Read out despairing letter from farmer's wife about husband who never, ever washed, or changed the filthy black vest sticking to his torso. Landslide of mail saying: "Mine too!"

Catchphrases: I'm excira and delira. The country is banjaxed. (And, according to satirical Scrap Saturday: "Damn you Russell Murphy!")

Who was Russell Murphy? Dear friend and accountant who stole Gaybo's life savings for a spending spree.

Worst vice: Once admitted he smoked three cigarettes a day (other people's) and a "sly" regard for CJ Haughey.

Jobs since The Late Late: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, The Meaning Of Life and currently For One Night Only. Chairman of National Road Safety Authority. President of Ireland (to be confirmed).

Chances of presidency?: Hmm. A 1998 poll named him both Ireland's most-disliked and most-loved public figure.

Least likely to say if elected: The country is banjaxed.

Most likely to say: I'm excira and delira.

damian Corless

Indo Review

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