Gay Byrne

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Gay Byrne
Gay Byrne speaking into a microphone in 2007
Byrne in 2007
Gabriel Mary Byrne

(1934-08-05)5 August 1934[1]
Died4 November 2019(2019-11-04) (aged 85)
Other namesUncle Gay,
Uncle Gaybo[1]
EducationRialto National School,
Synge Street CBS,
Honorary doctorate in literature from Trinity College, Dublin (1988)[1]
Years active1958–present
EmployerRaidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ)
Notable work
The Late Late Show,
The Late Late Toy Show,
The Gay Byrne Show,
Rose of Tralee,
People in Need Telethon,
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,
The Meaning of Life,
For One Night Only
Board member ofChairman of the Road Safety Authority (2006–2014)
Spouse(s)Kathleen Watkins (1964–2019; his death)
ChildrenSuzy, Crona[1]

Gabriel Mary "Gay" Byrne (5 August 1934 – 4 November 2019), affectionately known as Uncle Gay, Gaybo or Uncle Gaybo,[1] was a veteran Irish presenter of radio and television for several decades. His most known role was first host of The Late Late Show over a 37-year period spanning 1962 until 1999.

Early life[change | change source]

Byrne was born in Rialto, Dublin. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin. He was the first person to broadcast The Beatles on television.[1]

Career[change | change source]

From 1973 until 1998, Byrne presented The Gay Byrne Hour—later The Gay Byrne Show when it expanded to two hours—on RTÉ Radio 1 each weekday morning. Since retiring from his long-running radio and television shows, Byrne has presented several other programmes, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, The Meaning of Life and For One Night Only on RTÉ One and Sunday Serenade/Sunday with Gay Byrne on RTÉ lyric fm.

In 2006 he was elected Chairman of Ireland's Road Safety Authority. Since retiring he has become the "Elder Lemon of Irish broadcasting".[2]

Personal life[change | change source]

Byrne is married to Kathleen Watkins.[3] Together they have two adopted daughters. He lives in Sandymount, Dublin with his wife.

On 21 November 2016 he revealed, live on a radio broadcast, that he was to begin treatment for prostate cancer and that the cancer may have also spread to his lower back. He died from the disease in Dublin on 4 November 2019 at the age of 85.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Byrne, Gay (13 February 2010). "The chameleon of Montrose". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 13 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  2. Courtney, Kevin (23 January 2010). "In God, we curry flavour". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 February 2010. There’s no special trick to Gay's interview technique – it’s his status as the Elder Lemon of Irish broadcasting that elicits your trust. You can’t imagine this format working with anyone who isn’t already familiar with Gay’s paternal persona. If he asked an American to talk about their faith, he might get the answer: “Well, Jay, in my new movie, coming to a cinema near you, my character is very much on a spiritual journey.”
  3. Boland, Rosita (13 February 2010). "Grafton Street loses some of its sparkle". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2010. “Unfortunately, I don't have anything from West's,” admits Kathleen Watkins, “but I do like those earrings.” (If her husband, Gay Byrne – interviewed on page 7 – is reading this, they are the only heart-shaped diamond earrings in the window, and they cost €3,800.)
  4. Veteran RTÉ broadcaster Gay Byrne dies aged 85