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Broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy has died

He was 76 years old.

Image: Inpho

BROADCASTER BILL O’HERLIHY has died suddenly.

The presenter, who was a household name for decades, died overnight. The cause of his death has not yet been announced.

His friends and colleagues at RTE and Insight Consultants are said to be ‘in a state of deep shock’ at the news.

He had attended the IFTAs at the Mansion House in Dublin last night.

The 76-year-old was best known for his work as the presenter of RTE’s football coverage since the early 1970s. During his time at the broadcaster, he covered ten World Cups and ten Olympic Games.

He retired from RTE after the World Cup last summer.

“Everyone at RTE is devastated at today’s news,” said Noel Curran, the Director-General of RTE. “Bill O’Herlihy was a giant of the sporting and broadcasting worlds in this country.”

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BIll won a Jacob’s award for his presentation of the 1990 World Cup, and was Irish Sports Journalist of the Year 2003. In 2007 he was named the Irish Film and Television Academy’s Television Personality of the Year.

He was working on a new show for RTE One at the time of his death.

“He never hid his emotions on… big occasions, from disappointment to utter joy, and for this he was greatly loved,” said Noel Curran.

But he was also a fantastic broadcaster and interviewer, getting the best out of his interview panels and provoking debate and insight, and for this he was also hugely admired.

His colleagues at Insight Consultants, which merged with O’Herlihy Communications earlier this year, said they were “deeply shocked and saddened” by his death.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among those who paid tribute to the legendary presenter at the launch of his autobiography in 2012, saying that Bill displayed “the same professionalism, the same level of dedication and preparation for the job” that he had since he began his career in the 1970s.

The legendary presenter began his career as a journalist at the Irish Examiner – then known as the Cork Examiner – while in his teens. He left to work for an RTE programme about rural Ireland, before transferring to the current affairs section where he reported on the ground-breaking and controversial 7 Days programme.

He found his natural home in the sports section of RTE, where he worked for more than forty years.  He left RTE for a time to found his own PR company, O’Herlihy Communications, and to briefly consider a career in politics with Fine Gael, but always came back to sports.

Hanging up his RTÉ Sport mic after last summer’s World Cup final, the host paid warm tribute to his longtime colleagues, John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady – before signing-off with his trademark catchphrase.

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“I take my leave with so many great memories through more than 40 years of sports broadcasting,” O’Herlihy said.

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“I’ve been lucky to be part of a huge, positive development in RTÉ sports coverage that got so many great occasions to the public but my work on soccer, and most especially with the Three Amigos here, has been the great highlight of my career.

“Eamon and I have soldiered together since the 70s, John since the 80s and Liam from the 90s. You’ve brought knowledge, insight, controversy and greatly importantly, a sense of fun to our coverage which by any measurement has been outstandingly successful.

Of course we’ve had our differences like when I sometimes lost the run of myself and imagined I was an analyst rather than an anchor and I got very much put in my place, but I’ve had so much fun over the years, learned so much about football and frankly, and there’s no doubt about this, I have piggybacked on the talent of these three gentlemen.
Through working with them I have been privileged to serve you, the viewer, and you have been astonishingly generous down through the years. I thank you for that.

At the launch of his autobiography in 2012, Bill O’Herlihy paid tribute to his wife Hillary and his daughters Jill and Sally, as well as his family and friends.

“I am the luckiest man in the world,” he said. “The Lord has really been good to me”.

Read: ‘Life has been good to me’ – Bill O’Herlihy on luck, Lowry, Lance and retirement > 

Read: He doesn’t miss the football, but Billo misses his old pals Eamon and Johnny > 

Read: ‘There’s something about Bill O’Herlihy’ – Taoiseach hails ‘Billo’ > 

About the author:

Christine Bohan

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