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Pat Tinsley's collection of the late, great broadcaster, Gay Byrne, RIP

This morning, national media is dominated by tributes and fond memories of media colleagues regaling the late Gay Byrne.

With 60 years in broadcasting, there are few who won't remember his years on The Late Late Show, when it was the unchallenged anchor programme for a Saturday night.  From black and white to colour, we watched Gay evolve as he tackled all the issues of modern Ireland.

Audiences were scandalised (whilst others welcomed) the debate on sex before marriage, on women's liberation, on 'mixed' marriages, on the legalisation of condoms. He aired the debate on homosexuality, equal rights for all, illegitimacy and divorce, alcoholism and addiction, when it was not a popular topic

All I knew as a teenager, was that if sex or anything related to it was aired on a Saturday night, we were going to have to endure a longer mass on Sunday morning as the parish priest denounced Gay and the show from the pulpit (a regular occurence in the '70s)!

Of course, he was a great supporter of the arts, with many (controversial) authors, actors and comedians among them (I remember Billy Connolly's and Richard Harris's interview particularly) and often, the debate afterwards was whether or not the interviewee was 'well oiled' or not!

He featured current stars and upcoming artists, and is fondly remembered by the likes of U2 band members, Boyzone and Westlife as giving them their real start into the music industry.

His skills as a broadcaster, on radio and TV, are undeniable but he was further praised as an excellent producer. For 8 years, he was Chair of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), a role he took seriously, and was not shy about tackling the Minister for Transport, the gardaí and the motoring public on the changes needed to reduce road deaths and injuries on Irish roads.

He will be sadly missed by his wife, Kathleen Watkins and their daughters and extended family and friends, but to generations of Irish people, 'Gaybo' will the voice and face we remember from Irish television and radio.

Rest in peace, Gay.

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