RTÉ broadcaster Gay Byrne has passed away at the age of 85 following a long illness.
RTÉ Director-General, Dee Forbes, today paid tribute to Mr Byrne, who she credited with "the growth and development of a nation".
"We are all greatly saddened by the passing of Gay Byrne who has been a household name in this country for so many years. Gay was an exceptional broadcaster whose unique and ground-breaking style contributed so much to the development of radio and television in this country," she said.
"Gay’s journalistic legacy is as colossal as the man himself – he not only defined generations, but he deftly arbitrated the growth and development of a nation. Ireland grew up under Gay Byrne, and we will never see his like again. My deepest sympathies to Kathleen and his family."
Mr Byrne was born in Dublin on August 5, 1934 and grew up on the South Circular Road.
He started work as a newsreader and continuity announcer on Radio Éireann in the late 1950s before moving to Granada Television in Manchester, where he worked on a variety of shows, interviewing acts including The Beatles.
He returned to Ireland full time in the late 1960s as presenter and producer of The Late Late Show. The programme went on to become the world’s longest-running chat show.
"It is with enormous and profound sadness that I heard of the passing of my friend and mentor, Gay Byrne," said broadcaster, Ryan Tubridy.
"He was the master, a once-off and the likes of which we will never see again. I watched him as a child, worked alongside him as a young man and he guided me as I grew older and I will forever be indebted to him. We in RTÉ have lost a friend, a family have lost a father and a husband and the country has lost an icon. May he rest in peace."
Gay Byrne also presented a long-running radio show on RTÉ Radio 1, first known as The Gay Byrne Hour and then The Gay Byrne Show. The show had a close relationship with its listeners, many of whom wrote to or phoned Gay to comment on the issues of the day, and with their own stories. He won a Jacob’s Award for the programme in 1976.
Over his long career, Gay presented The Rose of Tralee, The Calor Housewife of the Year competition, as well as a range of special programmes. Gay Byrne presented his final daily radio show in 1998 and his final Late Late Show the following summer.
However he did not retire from public life, becoming the chairman of the Road Safety Authority and presenting other acclaimed television shows, including The Meaning of Life. Gay also returned to his first love - radio - and presented Sunday with Gay Byrne. His loyal listenership on RTÉ lyric fm shared in his love of big band and jazz programme.
"Irish broadcasting has lost a true giant and his loss will be keenly felt by all his colleagues, both past and present," said RTÉ Director of Content, Jim Jennings.
"Not only was Gay a brilliant presenter but he was also the best producer that I ever worked with. Gay was always very supportive of his younger colleagues; on a personal level I will miss his wise words and friendship."
Gay is survived by his wife Kathleen, their daughters Crona and Suzy, and their families.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said Mr Byrne left an "indelible mark" on Irish society.
"Gay Byrne was a rare treasure who touched the lives, not only of his family and friends, but the hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed him into their lives and their homes on the radio and tv," he said.