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Joe Brolly recalls beach encounter with Gay Byrne after going skinny dipping in Donegal

Joe Brolly has recalled an unusual encounter with Gay Byrne on a Co Donegal beach. Picture by Jason McCartan

GAA pundit Joe Brolly has recalled an unusual encounter with the late Gay Byrne on a winter's morning in Co Donegal.

Writing in his regular column in the latest issue of Gaelic Life, the Derry All-Ireland winner remembers how he was driving past Donegal airport when he pulled up and jogged to the beach.

"I stripped naked, left my clothes and glasses in a pile on the sand, and jumped in the freezing ocean," he writes.

After emerging from the water after 20 minutes he heard "that unmistakeable voice" – "'Young Joseph. What a sight for sore eyes.'"

"It was Gay Byrne out for his morning walk on the strand," recalls Brolly.

"'I see you are making trouble again,' he said, as he strolled on, 'Do make sure you keep it up.'"

The GAA pundit and Belfast-based barrister goes on to highlight the impact Byrne, who died earlier this week, had on Irish life.

"He was a colossus in our living rooms, giving the country a break from the tedium of daily life, thrilling and surprising us and making us laugh or cry," he writes.

The Derry man is less impressed by the Late Late Show these days, believing "they should have retired the show along with him" – a reference to Byrne's retirement from the show 20 years ago.

"In common with most live TV output by the public broadcaster, this safety first, avoid complaints at all costs culture, has created television that is as dramatic as a plate of scones," he says.

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