Republic of Ireland news

'Memory man' Jimmy Magee remembered by stars of sport following death aged 82

Legendary broadcaster Jimmy Magee has died aged 82. Picture by RTÉ
Suzanne McGonagle and PA

BROADCASTING legend Jimmy Magee was remembered last night by stars of many of the iconic sporting moments he is indelibly linked to.

One of the best loved voices of sport in Ireland, with a career at RTÉ which spanned half a century, he died aged 82 yesterday.

From athletics to boxing and World Cup finals to Olympic games, the Co Louth man became known as the 'Memory Man' for his remarkable breadth of knowledge.

Born in New York but raised in the Cooley Peninsula, he joined RTÉ in 1956, starting out on the radio programme Junior Sports Magazine.

Magee was behind the microphone for many of the greatest days in Irish and international sport, working at 11 Olympic Games and 12 World Cups.

He also provided commentary on more than 200 soccer internationals and many Tour de France races featuring Irish stars.

Some of his most memorable moments on air included calling home John Treacy to silver medal success at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Barry McGuigan's world title fight in Loftus Road in 1985 and Katie Taylor's Olympic success in London in 2012.

During the 1990s Magee also worked for UTV, fulfilling a life-long ambition to commentate on All-Ireland finals.

He worked alongside Adrian Logan on The Gaelic Game and the Co Tyrone man last night paid tribute to a "true broadcasting legend".

"He was easy to work with and a total gentleman," he said.

"Jimmy was just like your friendly uncle, who never went past you without stopping to say hello or help you.

"He was a professional in everything he did, a decent man and an excellent commentator."

Venturing outside the commentary box, Magee's encyclopaedic memory saw him paired with Belfast-born George Hamilton on the RTÉ quiz show Know Your Sport, in which viewers would pose trivia questions in an attempt to catch him out.

He also presented Superstars, which saw stars of different sports compete against each other, and was behind the Jimmy Magee All Stars celebrity matches which raised millions for charity.

Dee Forbes, director-general of RTÉ, said he was a "broadcasting giant".

"As a keen sports fan, Jimmy Magee helped shape my strongest and fondest early sporting memories and even during the many years I lived and worked outside the country, he was there to bring so many great sporting occasions to life in his own inimitable style; he knew how to make these moments mean so much more.

"Jimmy will be sorely missed by his many former colleagues and friends at RTÉ and by sports fans the length and breadth of the country."

President Michael D Higgins said Mr Magee's contributions to sports broadcasting were immense.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Magee, one of the best loved faces of sport in Ireland with a career spanning half a century. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

"He reported on some of the most iconic sporting moments in sport but also had a genuine interest in the human side of everyday sports," he said.

"He will be missed by all those who appreciate and care for the world of sports."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also said Mr Magee "encapsulated all that is good in Irish sports broadcasting".

"Jimmy's passion for sport, of any description, was legendary," he said.

"A quick wit, he respected the players and they, in turn, respected him."

Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given described Magee as "one of the best commentators of Irish sport", while Barry McGuigan said he was an "amazing commentator and a great man".

Former Irish international Paul McGrath also said he was a "gentleman of Irish sport", and Katie Taylor said his was "a voice that will never be forgotten".

Mr Magee's encyclopedic memory of sport earned him the title of 'Memory man'

The broadcaster's son Paul died in 2008 from motor neurone disease and he became a patron of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, which also paid tribute last night.

Chief executive Aisling Farrell said: "Jimmy was a constant presence in our fundraising for so long, and helped raise the profile of an illness that has such a devastating effect on people living with motor neurone disease."

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