Irish TV icon Gay Byrne has died, aged 85

4 November 2019, 15:23 | Updated: 4 November 2019, 15:33

Gay Byrne
Gay Byrne. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Irish TV presenter Gay Byrne has died at the age of 85.

The broadcaster, who presented RTÉ's chat show The Late Late Show in Ireland for 37 years, passed away after a long illness.

In 2016, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

Byrne's family said in a statement: “It is with sadness that Kathleen, Crona and Suzy wish to announce that their beloved Gay has died peacefully at home today, surrounded by his family.

“We wish to thank everybody for their love and support during Gay’s illness. Particularly the wonderful teams in the Mater Hospital, St Francis Hospice and the Irish Cancer Society.”

Byrne was known as Uncle Gay, and had a career that spanned six decades.

In 2010, he was named “the most influential radio and television man in the history of the Irish State” by The Irish Times.

There will be a special live edition of The Late Late Show in tribute to Gay Byrne tomorrow night (November 5) at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.

Gay Byrne - Unbroadcast tribute show 1999

Irish president Micheal D Higgins said Byrne was "a man of great charisma, one of the most recognisable faces of Irish broadcasting".

"Through his work in radio and on television he challenged Irish society, and shone a light not only on the bright but also the dark sides of Irish life."

The Late Late Show is one of the world's longest running chat shows. Byrne was known for hosting it in his traditional relaxed style.

Gay Byrne also hosted a long-running radio show, first known as the Gay Byrne Hour and later the Gay Byrne Show.