Gabriel “Gay” Byrne became the biggest name in Irish broadcasting, hosting RTE’s The Late Late Show for more than 30 years.
On November 4, 2019 it was reported that the TV and radio legend had died peacefully in his bed after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016.
Who was Gay Byrne?
Gay Byrne, affectionately known us “uncle Gaybo” was born in Rialto, Dublin in 1934.
In 1953 he began working as an RTE Radio host – soon becoming one of the network’s biggest stars, earning himself his own morning radio program as well as his chat show, The Late Late Show.
He was presenter of the Late Late from 1962, right up until 1999.
Gay had an illustrious career – he was the first person to introduce The Beatles on Irish television, and raised controversial issues like sexuality, abortion and The Troubles on his shows.
Many famous figures left tributes on social media following the star’s death.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Gay Byrne was the most influential broadcaster in the history of the State, a much-loved figure who changed Ireland for the better in so many ways.
“On radio and on television over so many decades ‘Uncle Gaybo’ provided a voice for all those who had been silenced or were afraid to speak up, and helped us confront things that needed to be changed.”
Piers Morgan hailed him as “Ireland’s greatest broadcaster”, with Eamonn Holmes praising Byrne as “the broadcaster we all wanted to be.”
In a statement released today, Byrne’s family said the broadcast colossus died surrounded by relatives.
His family said: “We wish to thank everybody for their love and support during Gay’s illness. Particularly the wonderful teams in the Mater Hospital, St Francis Hospice and the Irish Cancer Society.”
Who was his wife?
Gay married devoted wife Kathleen Watkins on June 25 1964.
At this stage he had been the host of The Late Late show for two years, with Kathleen also working in television.
By law, Kathleen had to give up her job when the pair married.
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She has previously said she thinks she could have ended up directing the show if she had been able to pursue her career.
The couple have two daughters – Crona and Suzy – and five grandchildren.
Kathleen, an accomplished harpist has also written ten books.