Tributes paid for ‘brave’ former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird

Tributes paid for ‘brave’ former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird Sr Stan meets Charlie Bird in Dublin. Photo: John McElroy

Tributes have poured in following the death of celebrated former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird, remembered as a “great man” and an example to all those suffering.

Following his death aged 74 on Tuesday, Sr Stan said Mr Bird “had faith and that helped him” following his motor neuron disease diagnosis in 2021.

“Since he got ill, he has been amazing in the way he has lived with it, accepted it, dealt with it while continuing to live to the full, continued to contribute to society in every way he could,” Sr Stan told The Irish Catholic.

“For anybody who is suffering, he is a great example of somebody who had pain and suffering and lived with it.”

Mr Bird covered some of Ireland’s biggest stories including the Stardust fire, the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, banking scandals and more.

Mr Bird led the charitable ‘Climb with Charlie’ campaign in April 2022 which saw thousands of people climb peaks across Ireland and abroad in solidarity with the journalist as he made a personal pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick. The campaign raised €3.4 million which went towards several charities including the Pieta House and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The former Administrator in Westport Co. Mayo, who had responsibility for Croagh Patrick, Fr Charlie McDonnell was in close contact with Mr Bird at the time.

He said: “I think it [the hike up Croagh Patrick] meant a lot to him… The momentum that came behind the climb with Charlie – the one thing he singled out was Mass cards, that wasn’t just to me… he kept mentioning Mass cards. He spoke that he felt a presence with him, he knew he wasn’t alone, there was someone watching over him. All of that began with visiting Croagh Patrick and hiking the Reek,” he said.

Speaking on RTÉ 1’s Today with Claire Byrne on Tuesday morning singer Daniel O’Donnell said he was “so impressed by Charlie’s bravery” and that he “inspired people”.

Mr O’Donnell spoke of how he handed Mr Bird his own personal set of Rosary beads while they were on the Late Late Show in October 2022.

He said: “A couple of nights after the Late Late Show he told me it just meant the world to him, and I felt so grateful that I did what I did. I wasn’t trying to push religion on him or anything, it was just something that was important to me that I could give to him hoping he would get strength from them, I just never imagined it would mean so much to him – and I know it did because he told me every time we talked…”