VIP Towers was hugely saddened today to hear about the sudden and untimely death of RTE legend, Bill O’Herlihy.
We met with the iconic sports anchor on a number of occasions, most recently for a gorgeous photoshoot last year with himself and his loving family, when he spoke to us about how he was finding his newfound retirement.
Before that, in 2010, we chatted exclusively to Bill about the fear he experienced when he learned he needed a heart bypass and what difference his health scares made to his life.
Here’s what happened when VIP met the legendary, late Bill O’Herlihy.
Date: September 2000
Photographer: Colm Henry
Location: His family home in Foxrock, Co Dublin.
Bill was one of the most well known faces on RTE television, and had been broadcasting since the early 1960s. He was happily married for nearly thirty years to his wife Hilary, and was anticipating his final season presenting The Premiership on Saturday nights.
It was the eve of the Sydney Olympics, and Bill would be covering his seventh Olympics for RTE the following day. We spoke exclusively to him in his luxurious Foxrock home, about family life, juggling his business with presenting, his passion for sport and having a heart bypass.
Bill revealed how his first big role for RTE sports was covering the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. The games were overshadowed by the horrific massacre of the Israeli team, and Bill spoke about what it was like to be seated at the frontline. He expressed the fear that engulfed him when he was told he needed surgery on his heart, and the difference the bypass had made to his life.
Bill told us about his own sports highlights, and spoke about his family’s sporting achievements. He described falling in love with Hilary, and his desire to spend more time at home with his family. Despite his contract being up with RTE six months after our interview took place, it was not until July 2014, that Bill finally left his broadcasting chair.
“If someone told me I was going to die, the shock could not have been greater.”
Date: October, 2014
Photographer: Naomi Gaffey
Location: Bill’s home again in Foxrock
We met Bill and his wife Hillary as they returned from a getaway to Spain, three months after he retired from RTE. Along with their daughters Jill and Sally and their five grandchildren, Bill opened up about the couple’s new life together.
Just three months into retired life, Bill told us he was bored. “I’m not structured at this stage in my life to do nothing,” he admitted to VIP over coffee in his kitchen. “My total retirement – because you see I am still working with my PR agency O’Herlihy Communications – has to happen slowly.”
On the other hand, his wife of 44 years Hillary felt differently. She wanted him retired – not because of his health (the Cork man has had three heart bypasses, as well as a bout with colon cancer five years ago). Rather because he worked since the age of 16 – he first joined The Cork Examiner as a journalist, and then moved to RTÉ for 49 years where he presided over 10 World Cups and 10 Olympic Games – that Hilary felt her husband deserved a rest.
Bill explained how emotional it was leaving the broadcaster, especially at the going away party with all of the “RTE heads” he’d worked with over the years. He also poignantly spoke about his optimism over his health: “It’s very good, thank God. And I do take care of myself: I play as much golf as I can, I keep my weight between 12-and-a-half and 13 stone and because I am a coeliac I am careful of what I eat. All is okey doke!”
“Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache…unless you play golf!”