Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has said that broadcaster Gay Byrne, who died on Monday, will be “remembered and quoted for generations”.
Mr Byrne (85) had been suffering from cancer for three years. As news of his death broke, Archbishop Eamon took to Twitter to express sympathy to his family. “May God rest his soul and may Kathleen and his family, friends and colleagues be comforted in their loss”.
He said that Mr Byrne was “a gifted and ground breaking broadcaster” who “will be remembered and quoted for generations”. Archbishop Eamon said that he “especially enjoyed The Meaning of Life” – the programme from RTÉ’s religious department which interviewed prominent people about their spirituality.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he believed that Mr Byrne changed Ireland “by himself being an ordinary common man and identifying himself with the way people were thinking”.
“You had this man who represented the common man, and the Church was in the boxes – it was locked up in a little world of its own and it wasn’t that it was unable to present its teaching, but it was unable to identify and for people to identify with it,” he said on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.
“Irish Catholicism had actually lost contact with the reality of Irish life, and that was something that was going on well before the Late Late Show began in some ways.
“The Church very often tried to keep the old show on the road and the show was becoming less relevant and the road was changing,” he said.
Archbishop Martin said that Mr Byrne was “a genuinely religious man” and recalled his friendship with enclosed nuns in Dublin “who had nothing to offer him other than their prayers”.