Gay Byrne has passed away at the age of 85.
Byrne, who retired from 'The Late Late Show' in 1999, had suffered health issues for the past number of years, most recently receiving treatment for prostate cancer. In a statement released by RTÉ, Director-General Dee Forbes said that Byrne was "an exceptional broadcaster whose unique and ground-breaking style contributed so much to the development of radio and television in this country."
"Gay’s journalistic legacy is as colossal as the man himself – he not only defined generations, but he deftly arbitrated the growth and development of a nation. Ireland grew up under Gay Byrne, and we will never see his like again. My deepest sympathies to Kathleen and his family."
Ryan Tubridy, in the same statement, said that Byrne "was the master, a once off and the likes of which we will never see again. I watched him as a child, worked alongside him as a young man and he guided me as I grew older and I will forever be indebted to him. We in RTÉ have lost a friend, a family have lost a father and a husband and the country has lost an icon. May he rest in peace."
As well as serving as the Chairman of the Road Safety Authority following his retirement from 'The Late Late Show', Gay Byrne - or Uncle Gaybo as he was often referred to - hosted several radio programmes on RTE Lyric FM, as well as hosting one-off TV shows such as 'The Meaning of Life', which featured a now-infamous interview with Stephen Fry.
Byrne's achievements and legacy in Irish broadcasting can't be overstated. His impact on Irish life, by discussing taboo issues at a time when Ireland was socially and religious conservative, is still being felt to this day. Many believe that Gay Byrne was responsible for changing social attitudes in Ireland more than any one single person, and it's hard to argue with that.
Byrne is survived by his Kathleen Watkins, two children Suzy and Crona, and his grandchildren.