Gay 'Gaybo' Byrne (born August 5, 1934) is an Irish broadcaster. He presented The Late Late Show, the world's longest running chat show, from 1962 until 1999, and a regular afternoon radio show which is credited with breaking many Irish social taboos, such as abortion. Few would disagree that for many years he was a legendary figure amongst the Irish people and he has been referred to as "the most famous man in Ireland".
Gabriel Mary Byrne was born in Dublin. After being educated at Synge Street he entered the world of insurance. In 1958 he moved to broadcasting when he became a presenter on Radio Éireann. He also worked with Granada TV and the BBC in England. In 1961 Telifís Éireann (later RTÉ) was set up. He finally worked exclusively for the new Irish service. He introduced many popular programmes such as Jack Pot, Film Night and the Rose of Tralee. However, his most popular and successful programme was the Late Late Show.
On July 6, 1962, the very first episode of the Late Late Show was aired. Originally the show started as an eight week summer filler. The programme, which is still running, has become the world's longest running chat show. The show became a forum where controversial topics such as the Church, contraception and hitherto taboo subjects were discussed openly in Ireland. The show had much to do in shaping the new Ireland that was emerging from the 1960s. Byrne himself was not a radical social reformer, however the show and its guests had a radical effect on the people of Ireland. On September 13, 1985, the programme returned to a Friday night slot.
Gay Byrne was also a successful radio broadcaster. He is best remembered for his two hour morning show, The Gay Byrne Show (1972-1999). In the early nineties he cut down on his work load. Joe Duffy, another popular Irish radio broadcaster, was brought in as co-host of The Gay Byrne Show. In 1994 he retired from presenting the annual Rose of Tralee festival after 17 years. On May 21, 1999, he presented his last ever Late Late Show after handing the reins to arch rival Pat Kenny. Bono gifted a Harley Davidson motorcycle to Byrne on his last night hosting the Late Late Show. The bike was later auctioned for charity. The show continues with Pat Kenny as host. Uncle Gaybo has not completely disappeared from our screens however. He has hosted the Irish version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and a series about comedy in Ireland. He also appears on radio occasionally.
Gay Byrne is married to Kathleen Watkins, a well-known harpist and singer. Gay has won numerous television awards and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Trinity College in Dublin. In 1989 he wrote his autobiography entitled The Time of My Life. In 1999 he was awarded the freedom of Dublin City.