This first appeared in VIP Magazine, February 2019
There’s hardly a person in Ireland who remembers a time when Larry Gogan wasn’t on the radio. Whether hosting the Just A Minute Quiz, playing a track on the Golden Hour or announcing the latest chart hit, his enthusiasm, his chirpy demeanour and that instantly recognisable plummy voice of his, has for six decades, been lifting the nation.
The avalanche of goodwill from not only the public, but from his peers upon the announcement of his retirement from 2FM last month was not in the least bit surprising. Larry is known as the nicest guy in radio for a vey good reason. Because he is. To Larry though, the praise and plaudits were just far too much. Not only because Larry hates fuss, but, he’s not retiring he explains, “I’m not really going anywhere, just down the corridor” to his new radio home, a lunchtime show on the RTÉ Gold digital channel. “I’ll never retire”, he insists, “I’d be lost if I wasn’t working”.
He was lost though when his beloved wife Florrie passed away to cancer in 2002 at the age of 60. Those closet to him did worry how he would continue on. But continue he did, even though he was utterly bereft, because well, he had to, “I had five, albeit grown up children, and they needed me, but also I’m no use to anyone sitting around moping.” If gratitude is the secret of happiness, it explains an awful lot about this 80-year-old who despite being seriously debilitated by arthritis today, and arriving to our shoot in a wheelchair, is still smiling.
To mark his good wife’s 17th anniversary, VIP was honoured to join the entire Gogan family, for Sunday lunch at the gorgeous Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge. After taking pictures we sit and chat – and with his 12 grandchildren too – to find out what makes him such a happy Larry!
Larry, we’re going to miss you. 2FM will just not be the same.
Ah, I don’t know, but I did play the first record all right on 2fm back in May ’79. But Gold is probably a better fit for me as I’ll get to do special shows like Sounds of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
But Larry, will the Just a Minute Quiz survive the switch over?!
I don’t know if it will, we’ll have to wait and see! However, what I am insisting on is that all my shows are live. I much prefer being live. I always like to feel like I’m talking to people.
Playing that last Golden Hour show on the 31st of January, Larry, what was that like?
Ah, it was okay, I’m sad to leave the listeners, but it’s fine because I am not really retiring, I’m not really going anywhere, just down the corridor! People are making a big thing of it, I don’t really get it. I’m just glad to still be working. There was a time when some papers were saying I was too old to be on 2fm.
That’s hardly an excuse.
I know! And the public’s reaction was the same, we don’t care if he’s 100 once he plays good music, they said. I don’t think age has a lot to do with it at all. They can’t see me, I’m just a voice playing hits.
For many of us, work defines us. Does it, you? And does the thought of permanent retirement terrify you?
I don’t think of retiring at all, I don’t think I ever will. I don’t know what I’d do with myself. I’d be lost if I wasn’t working. 2FM is also like a family to me. The BBC’s Nicholas Parson’s is in his 90s now and he is still working every day. I think once your mind doesn’t go and your voice keeps alright, you should remain. You’re only playing records at the end of the day.
And the voice does sound as plummy as ever, Larry!
They say my voice hasn’t aged at all. But the rest of me has!
How is your health, Larry?
I’ve had arthritis for years but it’s just got worse in the last couple of years. Then they told me last November that I’d have to go on dialysis for my kidneys because they weren’t working properly. So I have dialysis three times a week, it takes three hours, it’s not unpleasant, it’s just boring. But I feel great.
You are so jolly and so optimistic, how do you do it? 12 grandkids pulling out of you today and us changing you in and out of outfits. And still you never get cranky.
What’s the point in getting cranky? I am very lucky and very grateful for what I have. I am relatively healthily. I have a great family. I have a career I love. I only ever wanted to be a DJ.
You are dubbed the nicest man in radio. But we know that you think this is a nonsense.
It is a nonsense. Yes, I don’t fight with people in any walk of life, but so what? I just let stuff go.
When your retirement from 2fm was announced there was an outpouring of love from listeners and colleagues. How did it make you feel?
I didn’t realise people felt that way. I don’t know why they would? I didn’t do anything. I’ve always been lucky, I suppose, to be…happy.
It’s hard to always be happy though. Because life can be tricky.
Of course things happen in life, bad things happen to everybody, but I just don’t let them take root.
Today is the 17th anniversary of Florrie’s passing. We’re sure when she died you never thought you’d last 17 years without her.
I didn’t. In fact I thought I would have been gone first. She was only 21 when we got married and she was 60 when she died. She did everything really, in terms of family.
At that time and in the years after, work must have been a great support and distraction for you.
It was. It gave me a focus. She always loved the gossip from RTE, you miss having somebody to share stuff like that with. Florrie was great fun.
You are blessed though Larry to have a large and loving family who truly treasure you.
I am. They are great, and they’re great fun. All of them are in touch with me daily. I can’t understand people who say they haven’t seen their kids for a week. A few days would never go by without seeing them.
You’ve probably haven’t had a chance to ever even be lonely!
I’m never really lonely. I’ve never felt loneliness, as such.
The term happy as Larry could have been coined for you! You’re jolliness is infectious. Before we finish up to talk to your grandkids, we need you to impart VIP with some life advice. What is yours, Larry?
Just be yourself. People see through you if you put on airs and graces. Just be you. You is good enough!
[VIP then turned to the grandkids to ask what their grandad means to them.)
Guys, we can see how much you all love your grandad. What does he mean to?
Jodie: Everybody on the outside looks at Larry as a legend and a hero but to us he’s a legend just as our grandad.
Holly: I’d stay with him once a week, just because I want to, and I was the one who got him into Love Island! I just think he’s an inspiration to us all. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body and he never say a bad word about anyone.
Issac and Noah: He’s very genuine and kind and very loving and gentle. And he gives us lots of stuff!
Jamie: Larry is a really good person.
Poppi: He’s always grateful. He never argues with anybody.
Zöe: And he’s really kind.
Jorja: And generous.
Seb: My name is Seb Lorcan Gogan and his is Larry Lorcan Gogan!
Nicky: Larry never gives out.
Georgia: He’s always in a good mood and always cheers you up.
David: He makes you proud that he’s your grandad. He does so much for everyone and he’s still working, he’s an incredible man really.
INTERVIEW: Bianca Luykx
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lili Forberg; misslili.net
STYLING: Melisa Yasmin Boyalikli
MAKEUP & GROOMING: Dolly Buckley; thepowderroomgirls.com
Shot on location at The Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.