Category: Archive

Byrne tabbed for freeman honorBy Andrew Bushe

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

DUBLIN — Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne, who finishes presenting his long-running "Late Late Show" at the end of May, said he is "delighted and excited" by Dublin Corporation’s unanimous decision to make him a freeman, the city’s highest accolade.

"It is a great honor," Byrne said recently. "I am looking forward to it happening."

He revealed he got a telephone call when he was holidaying in Barcelona before Easter from one of his daughter’s after Lord Mayor Alderman Joe Doyle had contacted her to sound out if he would accept the honor.

"How do you say no to that?" Byrne said. "It’s a lovely thing. I don’t enjoy the fuss, but it is a wonderful honor."

Byrne, who’s 64, will join a distinguished roll call that includes U.S. Presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, as well as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Jack Charlton.

His nomination almost led to an unseemly row as the Labor Party claimed the mayor took the initiative himself and had not gone through the normal advance consultation and suggested that the honor go to Burmese democratic opposition activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

At this week’s Corporation meeting, however, the differences were put aside and the Labor Party decided not to press Aung San Suu Kyi’s case at this stage.

Uncle Gaybo, as he is known to millions of fans, is enjoying a long goodbye.

He signed off from his 26-year role as housewives’ favorite on radio at Christmas amid parties and an outpouring of nostalgia. Now, tributes and plans for further farewell parties are building up for his departure from the "Late Late Show" after 36 years.

Both his top-rated radio and TV shows have become record breakers not just in Ireland but in the world.

With six weeks to go before he retires, Byrne said his diary was packed. "I am so busy between now and the end of May with so many things happening," he said.

He said the "Late Late Show" had started as a summer filler program for RTE. It was to be an Irish version of U.S. TV’s "Tonight Show."

Guests came on without any research. "It was truly ad lib and truly a leap into the dark," Byrne said.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese