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Doctor saves life of RTE's George in bypass drama

Hamilton, one of the country's most popular sports commentators, was rushed to hospital after going to see his doctor on Tuesday.

The star, who turned 60 earlier this year, had been complaining of feeling unwell with some breathing problems and thought it could be the flu.

He went to see his GP who immediately ensured he was rushed to hospital and underwent several hours of emergency bypass surgery.

The broadcaster is now in the private Blackrock Clinic in Dublin, where he remains in a serious but stable condition.


His two daughters, other relatives and close friends have been keeping a bedside vigil.

The health crisis means the star will be missing from our screens and radio airwaves for several weeks as he recuperates.

A close friend of the star last night said: "We are so thankful that George is holding his own. It's scary to think about what could have happened. He is such a lovely guy and so popular with everyone across the country and even beyond."

Hamilton has been a household name for decades and famous for his work as a sports commentator, although he originally trained as a cellist and pianist before joining the BBC and subsequently RTE. "It's a total shock to the system when a loved one becomes ill. It really knocks you for six. "The staff at both facilities have been amazing," the friend added.

As well as commentary work for big matches, Hamilton also broadcasts on RTE lyric fm on Saturday mornings.

For many years he also fronted a popular weekly quiz show on RTE, Know Your Sport, alongside fellow commentator Jimmy Magee.

In a statement RTE yesterday confirmed he had been taken ill.

A spokeswoman said, "RTE's George Hamilton was taken unwell on Tuesday night. He is currently in hospital recovering from surgery. His family have asked for privacy at this time. All his colleagues in RTE wish him a speedy recovery." Hamilton's cultured approach to sports commentary has won him many admirers, and although his remarks are sometimes scoffed at, he has been a leading voice in Irish sport for almost 30 years.

After taking a gap year from music college, Hamilton worked for a spell for Albert Reynolds before emigrating to Britain where he qualified as a rugby union referee. It is while training for this that he met his wife, Meredith O'Connor.

Last year he was again chosen as part of the RTE team to travel to the Fifa Soccer World Cup finals in South Africa. He was chief commentator for RTE Sport's coverage which his ninth FIFA World Cup.


Hamilton is known for his use of colourful phrases and memorable quotes when commentating on games -- his phrase describing David O'Leary's penalty against Romania in Italia 90, "A nation holds its breath", was used for a book of Irish soccer quotations by Eoghan Corry, for which Hamilton wrote the foreword.

The sports humour website, DangerHere.com, takes its title from another quote by Hamilton -- "And Bonner has gone 165 minutes of these championships without conceding a goal. Oh danger here..."