Gay Byrne, who hosted the Late Late Show for 37 years before stepping down from the role in 1999, suffered a heart attack at home early on Tuesday morning. He was rushed to St. Vincent’s hospital, close to his home in Sandymount, and a statement from RTE has said that he is recovering well.
Though he is 81 years of age, Gay is in remarkable physical shape, and leads a very healthy life. He has never smoked, drinks very little, and he cycles and walks regularly. Appearing on the Late Late just over a year ago, he revealed to Ryan Tubridy that “I’ve always been a great walker, and a ride a bike. I tootle off now and then and I do about 25 or 30 miles.” And having just celebrated his 80th birthday, Gay revealed the attitude to life that keeps him looking so young – “I’m reasonably fit, I’m still vertical, and you have to keep moving.”
Miriam O’Callaghan described Gay as “the undisputed king of Irish broadcasting”, and upon hearing the news said that “I am absolutely overjoyed to hear that Gay is making a great recovery and my thoughts right now are just with Gay and Kathleen and the whole family, at this difficult time.” Pat Kenny, who took over the Late Late from Gay in 1999, also paid tribute to the man – “I got a bit of a shock when I heard the news. He is a remarkable guy and he is in good health generally and all his walking and cycling will stand to him.”
Talking to VIP a year ago, Gay had just celebrated his 80th birthday, and revealed “I absolutely cannot believe that I am 80. Father father died at 58 – big, strong, healthy man, worked all his life in Guinness as a labourier. I don’t feel 80. And I actually don’t look it!”
Like everyone throughout Ireland today, we wish Gay a speedy recovery.