BROADCASTER AND COLUMNIST Fr Brian D’Arcy has been speaking about his last visit with his friend Terry Wogan.
Tributes to the much-loved broadcaster have been continuing today, following his death from cancer at the weekend. Books of condolence have been opened online and in the veteran BBC host’s native Limerick.
D’Arcy, who knew Wogan for over four decades, described the presenter as “just the most lovely, loyal friend… a great intellect, a great broadcaster”.
Concerns about Terry’s health first arose in November, when he was forced to pull out of the Children in Need telethon. He had presented the event since the 1980s.
His last broadcast for Radio 2 was on 8 November last.
“He had a seriously bad back,” D’Arcy told Joe Duffy on Liveline this afternoon.
He wouldn’t have been able to stand for the entire show.
The Wogan family had had a good Christmas, however. “I think it was … alarm bells began to ring about three weeks ago”.
D’Arcy said he had “dropped everything” last week to arrange a visit with his old friend.
“Last Thursday something just told me – Brian, go and see him! And I rang Helen and she said ‘please do come, Brian’.
It was the saddest day and the most rewarding day of my life.
The family were aware how serious the situation was at the time, D’Arcy said.
The walls were just decorated with photographs of the children and grandchildren – happy occasions in the family. You would look a long while in the Wogan household to find a celebrity photograph anywhere.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced for the broadcaster.
D’Arcy said that the family, when he spoke to them yesterday, were “awfully sad, but awfully relieved that they were all there together at the time”.
The Meaning of Life
Wogan had spoken of his atheism in recent years, and D’Arcy said of last week’s meeting “I didn’t go over for any great spiritual motives because God and Terry get on the best”.
In a Meaning of Life interview with Gay Byrne, which was repeated by RTÉ last night, the presenter said he didn’t believe in God.
“I know it’s arrogant. Better men than me have believed in God. Far more intelligent people than me.
But at this stage in my life… Let me put it that way: I can’t accept the logic that there is an all-seeing God. There’s too much evidence, in my book, to the contrary.
Asked, as the interview ended, how he would react if “it was all true” and he ended up at the pearly gates, he responded:
“I’d look around a bit and I think I’d say ‘Where am I?’. And then ‘You’re having me on… I don’t believe this’.
But I’ll take it if it’s there…