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President Higgins leads star-studded Late Late Show tribute to Gay Byrne

Byrne’s funeral will take place in the St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Church, Dublin on Friday at noon.

Gay Byrne died yesterday aged 85.
Gay Byrne died yesterday aged 85.

Updated Nov 5th 2019, 11:00 PM

RTÉ IS SET to air live coverage of the funeral of broadcaster Gay Byrne on Friday, following a special edition of The Late Late Show that was broadcast tonight. 

Byrne presented The Late Late Show for almost four decades between 1962 and the 1999 and a special edition of the famous talk show this evening featured two Irish presidents and some of the foremost figures in Irish cultural life. 

President Michael D Higgins was the opening guest of the show with his predecessor Mary McAleese also a guest of host Ryan Tubridy. 

U2 frontman Bono spoke on the programme from Auckland in New Zealand while in studio many spoke about their memories of Byrne. 

Among them were: Bob Geldof, Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Mike Murphy, Andrea Corr, Vincent Browne, Mary Black, Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny and Tommy Tiernan.

(Click here if video doesn’t play

The show also featured a star-studded performance of Tabhair dom do Lámh by some of Ireland’s greatest living musicians including Sharon Shannon, John Sheahan and Finbar Furey. 

Speaking about Byrne’s presence in Irish life as society underwent some dramatic changes, President Higgins said that Byrne knew change was happening. 

“Gay, I think, was aware of what was happening. And he took a great deal of what the people were thinking,” President Higgins said

And I think what made just unique was that he had an instinct for the decencies of people that weren’t suppressed, but may be repressed. And therefore, if you gave it time, he was able to wait for the click in the interview. You could sail into trouble very nicely. But also, as well as that is that he was quite a careful about that.

“I remember in the much later when I was on the Late Late with people like Dr. Paddy Leahy and myself. We were on a certain side of a certain argument in many, many cases. And you weren’t short of opposition at the time. But he was very fair. And I think that was very impressive.”

The TV and radio legend died yesterday at the age of 85 with a subsequent outpouring of affection being typified by queues to sign books of condolence today.

Byrne’s funeral will take place in the St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Church, Dublin on Friday at noon.

The funeral mass will be broadcast live on RTÉ One from 11.30 am with historian John Bowman and presenter Mary Kennedy set to provide commentary of the ceremony.

RTÉ will also stream the funeral on the RTÉ Player, which will be available worldwide.

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Byrne is survived by his wife Kathleen, his daughters Suzy and Crona and his five grandchildren

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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