Gabriel Mary "Gay" Byrne (born 5 August, 1934) is an Irish broadcaster. He was the presenter of the Late Late Show, from 1962 to 1999 except for one year. He also presented a regular morning radio show on RTE. He is credited with being a catalyst in the transformation of Irish Society since the 1960s. He broke many Irish social taboos by discussing many topics like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion.
Byrne's father, Edward, married his mother, Annie Carroll (from Bray), at Belfast, in 1917, when briefly home on leave from the War. The two had met near Bray just before the War began. Gay Byrne is the youngest of six children from that marriage. However, one child, his brother Joseph, died as a one-week old infant. Listed in descending order (according to age), the other children are Edward, Al, Ernest, and Mary.
Byrne was born and grew up in Dublin. He was born 5 August, 1934. He first lived with his family at 17 Rialto Street, Rialto, Dublin, before his parent's moved to 124 (later renumbered 512) South Circular Road, Dublin, in 1944.
Byrne attended Rialto National School (since closed) and a number of other schools for short periods. Subsequently, he was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers at Synge Street CBS. After this he worked at the North Strand cinema. He subsequently became a clerk in an insurance company. He then worked as a sales representative. He also met foreign dignitaries at Dublin Airport, and welcomed them to Ireland.
Byrne's mother, Annie, died in late 1964.
In 1961 Telefís Éireann (later RTÉ) was set up. He finally worked exclusively for the new Irish service after 1969. He introduced many popular programmes with his most popular and successful programme being The Late Late Show.
On 6 July, 1962, the first episode of the Late Late Show was aired. Originally the show was scheduled as an eight-week summer filler. The programme, which is still broadcast, has become the world's longest running chat show. The show became a forum where controversial topics such as the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, contraception, AIDS, unemployment, homosexuality, clerical sexual abuse, divorce, and other hitherto taboo subjects were discussed openly in Ireland, alongside book reviews, celebrity visits, and music acts like the Boomtown Rats, U2, Sinéad O'Connor, Boyzone, and Noel Gallagher. Other guests included Presidents of Ireland, successive Archbishops of Armagh, minor members of the British Royal Family, politicians, actors, authors and countless others.
On 21 May, 1999, he presented his last Late Late Show. From September 1999 the show has been presented by Pat Kenny. The show had much to do in shaping the new Ireland that was emerging from the 1960s. Indeed it was famously said by politician and Papal Knight Oliver J. Flanagan that, "there was no sex in Ireland before television." However, Byrne saw himself as a presenter, not a radical social reformer, and his style was less challenging than the style of the current Late Late Show presenter Pat Kenny.
During the early years of Byrne's time hosting The Late Late Show, prior to about 1978 when the second national Irish TV channel was launched, he was employed by RTÉ on a continuously renewing 3-month contract, lest his employer might want to fire him any time they choose.
Byrne relied on an accountant friend, Russell Murphy, to manage his finances, and was personally distraught when upon the accountant's death in 1986, it was found that most of his savings had been squandered, and this had been hidden from him.
TIME TO RETIRE, GAYBO? He's Respected, Adored by Millions and in the History of 20th Century Ireland His Pivotal Role Is Secure ... Why Then, Asks HARRY BROWNE, Is Gay Byrne Appearing on TV3 and in Adverts That Demean Him?
Mar 25, 2010; Byline: by Harry Browne GROWING up in America, as I did, in the Sixties and Seventies, there were a lot of TV stars but there was...