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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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'I grew up with him in a sense': Fans outside Pro Cathedral pay tribute to Gaybo

The funeral of the RTÉ broadcaster is currently taking place in Dublin.

“WE KNEW HE would bring the sunshine.”

Muriel Keohan Coleman and Angela Keohan, both from Waterford, were only supposed to stay one night in Dublin but when they heard about the death of legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne this week, they felt they had to stay to attend his funeral.

They were among the many fans who turned out to pay their respect to ‘Gaybo’ at the Pro Cathedral today, and they noticed that on a cold November day, the sun had appeared as Byrne made his final journey through the capital. 

Muriel Keohan Coleman said: “My children grew up with him, I thought they’d never get out to school at 9 o’clock in the morning, because I wanted to hear Gay. He was a great character. I met him, I went out in the rain with my daughter, she was only two and a half – I carried her over. They used to have the outside broadcasts in Tralee at the time.”

Another fan, Marie Bradley from Shankill was at the funeral to say farewell to Gay.

“I absolutely loved him, he was a part of my life, gave me numerous years of sitting down of a Friday night for the Late Late, and every morning,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“Never ever missed him, when you went out with someone it’d be ‘did you hear this from Gay during the week?’”

She was there from 8.50am this morning.

Image from iOS (1) Betty Dunne and singer Kathy Nugent were there to say goodbye to Gay. Source: Dominic McGrath

Also outside the cathedral was Betty Dunne. “The reason I’m here is to say goodbye to him… I loved him, I grew up with him in a sense with the Late Late Show and his radio show,” she said. “We were just talking about his Lyric FM show which I loved of a Sunday, I was just a big fan of Gay. I saw him once, he was at this Housewife of the Year thing, a group of us went in, but I never actually shook his hand or anything.”

She was with singer Kathy Nugent, who worked with Byrne in the past. “Not only did I meet him but I also worked with him on the Late Late and on his programme on Lyric FM,” she explained.  “I’m a singer, I just had to be here and I had to sign the book as well. I have done the Late Late with him some years ago but more recently myself and Virginia Kerr would have sung for him, he had a very favourite piece that we did called We’ll Gather Lilacs.”

Many of those there had travelled from across the country, like Larry Wickham from Carlow:

“I travelled as a rep around the country for 25 years and I listened to Gay every morning and when I couldn’t listen to him I used to have a tape recorder in the car and I’d leave on the tape recorder and that’d be recorded when I came back and I’d play it on the tape in the car if I wanted to hear some article or item he talked about.”

He added: “I’ve gone to a lot of funerals for people I never knew, so why shouldn’t I go to Gaybo’s? I came up on the train this morning and I’ll go back this evening.”

Dubliner Sean Breslin was also there. He didn’t have to travel too far, but he’s been a fan of Gay since the early years.

“I live in Dundrum. My memory of Gay goes back into the early 60s,” he said. “I was home sick from school; all my brothers and sisters had gone to school and I heard that bubbly music and thought ‘that sounds interesting’. It was time for my mum to sit down and have her cup of tea and a bit of toast, and I got to listen to him. That’s my first memory of him.”

My paths crossed with him during my work career as well, I worked in Eircom and I worked in the Telephone Exchange and I also worked in RTÉ doing the telephones in there. He was a gentleman, that’s all I can say about him, and I’m here today to pay my respects.

The funeral is set to begin at 12pm today – we will be providing updates on the proceedings here.

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