Gay Byrne died yesterday and to most the name won’t mean anything but to anyone who grew up in Ireland in the 70s,80s or 90s, Gaybo or Uncle Gay was a part of our childhood and a big part in the fabric of the country.
He had a very popular daily radio show when there was only one radio station in Ireland and he talked about the problems of the world as well as the gripes from the housewives about the price of things, he also hosted “The Late Late Show” one of the longest running chat shows in the world and many events had to be scheduled around the Late Late, the name for the blog pays homage to the opening credits.
The Late Late was the Saturday Night Live of Ireland, tickets were hard to get and the guests were always big names and sometime controversial. The first time I ever heard taboo topics like AIDS, contraception, and homosexuality discussed, it was on the Late Late.
The Late Late Toy Show was an annual highlight of every child in Ireland and most letters to Santa weren’t written till after the Toy Show much to the chagrin of Irish Parents.
Many Irish Bands got their start on the Late Late including U2, the Cranberries and the Boomtown Rats, led by Bob Geldof and that has a personal connection as the night they debuted my parents were in the audience after winning the National Bar Food Competition In 1977.
This meeting led to a friendship between Gay and his family and ours although it almost ended before it began when Dad wouldn’t let his Lovely wife Kathleen bring her dog into the Derragarra. Over the years Gay, Kathleen and their daughters Suzy and Crona were regular visitors to Butlersbridge on their travels between their home in Howth and their house in Donegal. And Gay was also a great supporter of many of the charity events Dad ran and I had the pleasure of delivering a wheelbarrow that Dad had made for Kathleen for her garden in Howth.
So I extend my deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers to Kathleen, Crona and Suzy and the entire family.
RIP Uncle Gaybo, Ireland lost an icon.
“YOU CAN ROLL IT NOW COLLETTE”