The funeral of broadcaster Gay Byrne has taken place in Dublin. He passed away last Monday aged 85. A large crowd comprised of politicians, former RTE colleagues and fans gathered in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral to pay their final respects to the legendary broadcaster.
Speaking at the funeral Mass, Gay Byrne’s daughter Suzy said medical and catering staff who cared for her father throughout his illness spoke of him as “a Dub and one of our own”.
She thanked the staff at the Mater Hospital, saying that “to say that they brightened our journey would be an understatement” with “quips of Dublin humour that made us smile.”
She also told the crowd that “our farewell today is one of thanks”.
Saying a final goodbye to her dad, Suzy added: “Thank you most of all for being you,” quoting Brendan Kennelly’s tribute to Gay Byrne.
Fr Leonard Maloney said in his homily that “”For as long as most of us can remember Gay was a remarkable presence in Irish life a consummate broadcaster and a veritable choirmaster of the national conversation.
“But his greatness lay first in the intimacy of his family life, with his wife Kathleen, his children Crona and Suzy, his sons-in-law Philip and Ronan, his beloved grandchildren Cian, Sadhbh, Kate Saoirse and Harry, his sister Mary; and then in the richness of his life as a friend and a colleague.
“It is right and fitting that such a great number would mourn his passing.”
Fr Maloney also praised the work of Gay Byrne in giving a voice to women at a time when “there was little space in the public realm for stories like these to be told.”
Fr Maloney told mourners that “Gay often devoted large segments of his two-hour radio programme to reading extracts from the moving and often harrowing letters sent in by women from all over Ireland telling, perhaps for the first time ever, of sufferings and violations visited on them.”
Bob Collins, former RTÉ Director General, told mourners that Gay Byrne was “deep, thoughtful, and a man of values.”
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told the congregation that the broadcaster was not only “a man of faith, but a Dubliner man of faith.”
The grandchildren of Gay Byrne at the funeral Mass. Footage from RTE coverage.
The funeral Mass took place in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin city centre, with Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin among the clergy presiding at the service. There was sustained applause when the funeral cortège arrived at the cathedral.
RTE ran live coverage of the funeral. Bryan Dobson presented a special programme on RTE One, while Mary Kennedy and John Bowman provided commentary from the ceremony.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were among those attending the Mass, as well as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
President Michael D. Higgins arrives at the funeral. Footage from RTE coverage.
Also present were businessman Denis O’Brien, Corrs singer Andrea Corr, former Presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, and broadcaster Pat Kenny.
Other RTÉ stars include Dave Fanning, Claire Byrne and Mike Murphy.
The funeral cortège began in Howth, where Gay Byrne lived for many years, allowing locals to pay their respects.
Mourners were given a Mass booklet upon arrival at the Pro Cathedral.
The Mass booklet given to mourners. Photograph: Joyce Fegan.
A poem from the Mass booklet. Photograph: Joyce Fegan.
All mourners were asked to switch their phones off and observe silence before the funeral mass began.
Current host of The Late Late Show Ryan Tubridy was also among those present.
The passing of Gay Byrne has garnered international media attention, with The New York Times writing today that the giant of broadcasting “broke codes of silence over sexuality, abuse and hypocrisy in Ireland’s deeply conservative Roman Catholic society.”
Earlier today, U2 paid tribute to Gay Byrne with a quote from Graham Norton:
The Olympic Federation of Ireland, based in Howth, honoured Gay Byrne by flying their flag at half-mast today.