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'A genuine national institution': Tributes paid to veteran broadcaster Larry Gogan

President Michael D Higgins was among those paying tribute to the late broadcaster.

Larry Gogan has died aged 85.
Larry Gogan has died aged 85.
Image: RTÉ

Updated Jan 7th 2020, 3:00 PM

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to RTÉ broadcaster Larry Gogan, who has died aged 85. 

Tributes have come from across the media, politics and beyond. Larry had worked in broadcasting for nearly 60 years and will be best remembered for his RTÉ 2FM programme The Golden Hour and his Just a Minute Quiz. 

President Michael D Higgins was among those paying tribute. “For six decades, Larry Gogan made an indelible impact on Irish music, having promoted both up-and-coming and more established Irish musicians and sharing his infectious enthusiasm and passion for pop and rock music of all kinds,” he said. 

“Blessed with one of the warmest voices in Irish broadcasting, Larry Gogan not only defined RTÉ’s coverage of music, but also shaped the mould for many generations of DJs.”

Dee Forbes, the Director General of RTÉ, described Gogan as a “legend”. 

“Larry Gogan was a legend, and a genuine national institution. He transcended generations – whether it was a hilarious moment on the Just a Minute Quiz, the breakneck countdown of the weekly top 40, or the first play of a Christmas song,” Forbes said. 

“Larry didn’t just preserve these traditions, he created them,” she said. 

“He returns now to his beloved Florrie – we are the poorer for his loss, but the richer for having known this gentleman of the airwaves.”

‘We are all heartbroken’

Larry’s daughter Sinead Gogan spoke of the heartwarming impact of the “lovely tributes” that have been pouring in across radio, social media and privately from friends, former colleagues and fans who are remembering her father. 

“We all are [heartbroken]. We can feel the love, hearing the messages coming in to Ronan [Collins], to Ryan [Tubridy] and to Liveline, all these lovely tributes and you miss him,” she said speaking to Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio 1′s Liveline programme. 

“It’s so moving and touching to hear what everyone has to say about your father and it’s all nice things. And that’s the way it was at home, he was just himself – exactly like that. He was no different with anyone else than with us.

He was a great man and we’re all just heartbroken. And he’d be so embarrassed hearing what everyone was saying. he’d be going ‘Jesus Christ, will you stop’… There was no airs or graces, what you saw is what you got like.

She spoke of how “he’d always give people his time” when they approached him on the street. 

“You just thought he was normal like everyone else, he was just your dad. You didn’t go round thinking well my dad’s Larry Gogan. That’s just your father. Everyone’s just a person at the end of the day.”

Jim Jennings, the Director of Content at RTÉ, said that Gogan “defined the Irish popular music scene for decades”. 

He advocated for Irish artists and Irish music throughout his career, meaning he was respected not only by audiences, but by musicians too. This, in many ways, was his unique quality: he was loved by the listener, and loved by the artist.

“Larry’s legacy will endure in popular culture and the popular imagination for decades to come,” he said. 

Gogan, who was born in 1934, broadcast his first radio programme on RTÉ Radio 1. He was also in the original line-up of RTÉ Radio 2, which eventually became RTÉ 2fm. 

In January 2019, he moved from 2FM to RTÉ Gold and presented his last programme on 2FM. 

He presented The Golden Hour up until February 2014. 

Dan Healy, the Head of RTÉ 2FM, said that Larry was part of the foundation of the station. 

“He was, arguably, the greatest music DJ in Irish broadcasting history; that gorgeous voice; that genius with a link; that love for the music,” he said. 

“Larry won all the major radio awards in Ireland but over and above them all he had the one that mattered most: universal popularity.” 

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan joined in the tributes to Gogan. “We have lost another of our cherished broadcasters. He was loved by the listeners and artists alike. My condolences to his family and friends,” she said. 

Fans and friends took to Twitter this morning to pay their respects and share their memories of the broadcaster. 

RTÉ’s Joe Duffy said that Larry was the “soundtrack of our lives” from the 1960s onwards. 

“I visited him ten days ago, he was in his usual great form with his loving family, his beautiful honeyed voice, the quick wit and deep intelligence shone through,” Duffy wrote on Twitter

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, Duffy said that his voice never changed during his career. It was, he said, “the voice of the new swinging Ireland”. 

“You didn’t have to meet Larry Gogan to know that he was a gorgeous man,” he said. 

Opening his show on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Ryan Tubridy paid tribute to Gogan, adding that his death was particularly poignant in the wake of the deaths of both Gay Byrne and Marian Finucane

“There is a sense that this trinity of talent that has dominated the Irish airwaves,” he said, “has all left us now”.

“He was genial, he was gentle, he was giving and he was good craic,” Tubridy said.

“One of those rare creatures in public life – a man who was universally loved and admired.”

On the same programme, RTÉ presenter Ronan Collins paid an emotional tribute to his friend: “Larry wasn’t just professionally happy. He was personally happy. He loved music. He never broke it down into categories. He always had his own voice, and what a voice.”

RTÉ presenter Marty Whelan said that Gogan was a “dear friend and a wonderful man”, while presenter and commentator Marty Morrissey praised him as a “brilliant broadcaster”.

RTÉ News presenter Caitriona Perry also called him the “voice of Ireland”.

With reporting from Conor McCrave

Announcing Gogan’s passing this morning RTÉ listed his age as 81. It has since been confirmed he was 85. 

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