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Andres Poveda
Motor neurone disease

Charlie Bird: 'I probably won't have my voice in three or four months' time'

Veteran broadcaster Charlie Bird said his final wish would be that as a country, we look after those who are ill and sick.

VETERAN BROADCASTER CHARLIE Bird has spoken about dealing with his Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis, saying he probably won’t have his voice in three or four months’ time.

He said that sometimes he wakes up and thinks he’s in a dream, but then he tries to speak and realises “I’m living in this nightmare”. 

Appearing on RTÉ’s Late Late Show last night with his wife Claire, Charlie Bird said the support of people from around the country has kept him going:

“I love people, I love my friends, and I want to spend as much time as I can with all of them. I want to see my five grand kids… grow up. I want my two daughters to be with me for as long as possible.

I know I’m in a fight, and I’m doing my best to deal with all these issues as strongly as I can.

The former RTÉ chief news reporter posted the news of his diagnosis on Twitter in October, but had said he spent months trying to find a diagnosis when he noticed that his speech was affected. 

He said that he hid from neighbours and friends initially when symptoms emerged.

[The doctor] was writing on a piece of paper and she said ‘don’t you read that’. And my curiosity got the better of me, so when we were going home, I read it. And it said ‘Charlie Bird has a terminal illness’. We went home together crying because what can you do? You can’t change it. So now we’re getting on with life and trying to deal with it.

When asked on the Late Late Show last night about how he was, he said he was “so so”, but that he was “alive and still here, and that’s what’s important”.  

“Everyday is the same for me. I make no bones about this, I cry every day,” he said, adding that he cried on hearing Ireland’s Call recently because it might be the last time he hears it.

He said he wants to climb Croagh Patrick to prove to himself that he can do it.

He said that the support he has received has kept him going and “uplifted” him. “Yeah, it’s difficult, but I’m not the only one going through it.”

Bird said this morning that he cried “tears of joy” at the response to his interview.

Charlie Bird joined RTÉ in 1974 and became a household name in Ireland during his time as a broadcaster. He was RTÉ’s chief news reporter and spent a period in the US as its Washington correspondent. He retired in 2012 after 38 years at Montrose. 

He spoke on the Late Late Show about how when he joined the newsroom, he couldn’t spell and arrived with a dictionary, adding that he was “blessed” to have worked for the public service broadcaster.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) affects the brain and nerves, causing the muscles to weaken and waste over a period of time. There is no known cure, though symptoms can be managed.

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