Letters to the Editor: 'Byrne was modern Ollamh who gave nation guidance'
In years gone past, Ireland would gather at Tara every three years to discuss and update the laws of the nation.
Ollamhs – wise leaders – would guide the discussions over law and how our society should deal with complex social issues.
In my lifetime, Uncle Gaybo took the place of these Ollamhs gluing us to the TV to ‘The Late Late Show’ that no one watched but everyone saw – approaching the complex, the controversial and guiding us to understanding the pain of our fellow citizens and helping us figure out where and what we wanted to be as a nation.
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Go raibh maith agat, Ollamh Byrne.
Ní fheicimid a leithéid arís.
Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia
Legend will know now that I broke my ‘Late, Late’ promise
Doubtless there will be many stories in the coming days extolling the many virtues of legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne.
Here’s my own small contribution...
In the summer of 1976, two rather tired and scruffy looking teenage hitch-hikers (myself and my friend) were making their way from Donegal Town to Dungloe. As we approached the Gweebarra Bridge near Lettermacaward, a white Renault 12 pulled up. It was Gaybo and his wife Kathleen and they offered us a lift, which we gratefully accepted.
Gay and Kathleen were great company but he did extract a heavy price for his services – we had to promise to switch from watching ‘Match of the Day’ to ‘The Late Late Show’ which, back then, was broadcast on a Saturday night.
By now he will know we did not keep that promise, but I will remain eternally grateful for his generous spirit.
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Eternally grateful to the star who gave business a leg up
Circa February 1993, I was running a fledgling sandwich business with my wife. We had a wholesale side to our business whereby we supplied fresh sandwiches, primarily to filling stations in the days before there were delis in every facility.
On a Monday morning, and without warning, Gay Byrne read out a letter from a listener which detailed an incident when a person from the West travelling in the early hours to Dublin Airport with some Canadian tourists, stopped by a filling station and purchased some of our sandwiches. So impressed was the driver that he stopped by our premises on his return from the airport.
He then kindly wrote a letter to Gay outlining the quality of our product and the value of hard work and continuous attention to quality.
Gay read out this letter at the start of his radio programme and, as you can imagine, this was the best “plug” a business could get.
Later, some journalists took up the story as a lesson in good customer service.
It also gave me a life lesson, in that if you continue to strive for excellence, it does get noticed.
I know that I was one of many businesses helped by Gay Byrne over the years. I will be eternally grateful for his simple gesture.
Mullingar, Co Westmeath
Where is modern Byrne who will question ‘liberal’ society?
The late Gay Byrne (RIP) was obviously a very talented broadcaster.
However, as sure as night follows day, his passing is the cue for “modern/liberal” Ireland to indulge in an orgy of self-congratulation.
We are going to be subject to the usual clap trap, from the usual suspects, about the evils of the old Ireland and how enlightened we have become.
Of course many aspects of the old Ireland were in need of change/improvement. However, it’s relatively easy to critique and caricature a society but if you are going to dismantle something (or facilitate same), you better have something to fill the vacuum.
Many would argue “modern/liberal” Ireland isn’t the nirvana its adherents imagine.
Will we ever see a contemporary version of Gay Byrne holding a light up to “modern/liberal” Ireland? Answers on a post card.
Navan, Co Meath
Gaybo with us yet, after years lighting up the television set
In memory of Gay Byrne:
I still hear him say “Roll it there, Colette”
Because Gaybo never left my TV set
The black and white one with the rabbit’s ears
That I kept in my memory for all these years
Entertainer and educator in equal measure
Together we shared life’s pain and pleasure
A maker of modern Ireland – we all agree
Sadly, missed by all – including me.
Address with editor