#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

Memories of Gaybo: 'He seemed smaller than I remembered him ... once he was on his feet the microphone worked its magic'

Former Sunday Press columnist and reporter Éanna Brophy shares a memory of one of Gay Byrne’s final public appearances, on a cold November morning in Dublin.

Eanna Brophy

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

THE LAST TIME I met Gay Byrne – and now it will be the last time – was almost a year ago. November 7 to be precise, because I had been invited to take part in a small ceremony in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, where the Adelphi Cinema once stood.

A plaque was being unveiled at what is now the entrance to Arnotts car park to mark the anniversary of the time the Beatles played there in 1963.

The whole thing was organised by the indefatigable Paddy Murray, who had persuaded Dublin City Council to do it – and persuaded me to come and do my party piece about meeting the Beatles, attending the concerts and witnessing the ensuing mini-riot.

The star of the show that chilly morning last November was Gaybo.

He arrived, chauffeured there by Harry Crosbie. He seemed, I thought, a bit smaller than I remembered him, and he was well wrapped up, hatted and coated against the bone-chilling breeze.

As the Lord Mayor and others addressed the multitude (a hundred souls or so), Gay sat quietly on the chair provided, and chatted amiably with those around him. Everyone was being very solicitous.

Then it was his turn to speak.

The microphone worked its magic. As soon as Gay was in front of it, he seemed to lose the pallor that had been evident when he arrived.

He had the crowd laughing immediately at his tale of his early encounters with the Beatles – not in Dublin but in Manchester where, in the early 1960s he was more famous than they were.

He was one of the presenters of Granada Television’s popular teatime news magazine where the Beatles made some of their earliest appearances.

His big finish was the revelation that Paul McCartney had asked him to be the Beatles’ agent.

“And now remember I would have been very, very well-known to them at that stage. I had never heard of them in my life, but I would have been very well-known to them because I was on the air everyday on television,” he told the crowd. 

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“I had to explain that between four days a week in Manchester, then back to Dublin every weekend for The Late Late Show, and a radio programme, and then two or three sponsored programmes that I was up to my ears and I knew nothing about being an agent.” 

Though flattered, he had to turn the offer down. 

Said Byrne: “Maybe if I had become their agent I would have become extremely wealthy – I’m quite sure I would – or else I would have died a couple of months later from cocaine poisoning.”

After the laughter he unveiled the plaque. That was followed by a small reception in the pub across the road, but Gay had slipped quietly away.

Friends and fans of the late Gay Byrne have been sharing their memories today: large crowds turned out at the Mansion House in Dublin where a book of condolence was opened, and former colleagues – among them, fellow veteran presenter Mike Murphy – have also being paying tribute. 

A Late Late special featuring, amongst others, Michael D Higgins, Pat Kenny, Bob Geldof and Tommy Tiernan, is starting on RTÉ One this evening. If you have a memory to share, join the conversation in the comments section. 

About the author:

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel