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There were tender, revealing moments on the Late Late Show this year

The late-night TV show is an important vehicle for discussing important social and political issues.

NOTWITHSTANDING RTÉ’S NEED to reform and change, both on a financial and structural level, there have been some important television moments this year, achieved through nothing more than talking to and listening to people. 

Here is a short snapshot of moments on the Late Late Show that had people talking, or sparked a reaction this year.

The Ryans


The interview with the Ryans was one of the most striking of the year. On 4 October, the couple appeared on the Late Late Show to explain that they were leaving the country because of racism. 

Fiona, Jonathan and their young son Jonah had appeared in a television and billboard ad campaign for Lidl, and were subsequently targeted in a number of abusive messages online as a result – including death threats. 

“I felt like we needed to leave,” an upset Fiona said, saying that the abuse was directed at their son. “I am not going to stay in country where this is allowed.”

The couple called on more regulation of social media companies to prevent further “harrowing” experiences, with Jonathan saying it was like “the wild west”. 

“I can’t feel like this and do nothing with it,” Fiona said.

Richie Sadlier

Television pundit and former Irish soccer star Richie Sadlier spoke about being sexually abused as a child on the Late Late Show.

He revealed his harrowing experience in his book ‘Recovering’, saying that the man was giving him treatment for a sports injury at the time and is now deceased. 

“I was sexually abused when I was a young lad. I was 14 years old and it was over a period of about six weeks,” he said, adding that he didn’t tell friends or family at the time.

Sadlier said that for a long time, he blamed himself for what happened.  

Why didn’t I stop, why didn’t I run? Why didn’t I hit back? Why didn’t I tell someone? Why did I go back? I tormented myself with those questions for years.

Sinéad O’Connor

There was a lot of positive feedback to singer Sinéad O’Connor’s appearance on the Late Late Show in September. 

The 52-year-old spoke candidly about reverting to Islam, explaining that ‘revert’ referred to the idea that if someone studied the Qur’an, they would realise that they had been a Muslim all their life and didn’t realise it. “That’s what happened to me,” O’Connor said.

She said that the Ireland she had lived in as a young woman was much more oppressive than now, and Catholicism “didn’t make any sense because everyone was miserable”. So she sought out other religions. 

“I left Islam til last because I had so much prejudice about Islam… It’s a way of thinking, Islam. It’s a headset – a Muslim is only a person that believes nothing should be worshipped except god,” she explained. 

O’Connor explained that there were no rules to do with the hijab, but she chooses to wear it when she wants to as a form of identifying herself as a Muslim. “It’s kinda cool, people don’t recognise me,” she said.

The birthing robot

This might be memorable for the wrong reasons. 

In May, the Late Late Show featured a mannequin called Lucina, who demonstrated to the nation how birthing occurs, and would help trainee nurses prepare before they are brought to work in a hospital. 

Not everyone understood the slot, though, and 31 formal complaints were made to RTÉ about the show (that’s not including all the giving out on Twitter).

Lavinia Kerwick

In March, Lavinia Kerwick’s appearance on the Late Late Show prompted waves of admiration, after she told the story of how she became the first Irish rape survivor to waive their anonymity during an interview with Gerry Ryan in 1993. 

Lavinia said that Gerry Ryan’s use of the word “rape” caught her attention: “Pre-90/91, you would never hear the word ‘rape’ on radio, it was like a curse word.” 

Source: The Late Late Show/YouTube

So I just picked up the phone, and he was the first person in all those months that asked me my name. And I just said ‘My name is Lavinia’ That was it.

“It was like sitting beside him, I didn’t realise there were hundreds of thousands of people listening. It was very personal, he was hugely compassionate. From start to finish, I did not hear him interrupt that conversation.”

Lavinia, who since then campaigned for the introduction of victim impact statements, said that the moment was “hugely important” for her.

Gay Byrne tribute 

Held on the Tuesday the day after his death, the Late Late Show’s tribute to its first host captured the mood across the nation – one in mourning, but also in celebration of a brilliant television presenter. 

Featuring a montage of Byrne’s best bits, and a rendition of the Parting Glass at the end of the show, the tribute episode had a star studded line-up of guests that included the current Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins, and former president Mary McAleese.

Among the other guests were Bob Geldof, Pat Kenny, Joe Duffy, Mike Murphy, Twink, Donal Lunny and Vincent Browne.

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