Northern Ireland news

RTÉ broadcasting 'legend' Donncha Ó Dúlaing dies aged 88

RTÉ broadcaster Donncha Ó Dúlaing has died aged 88
Mairead Holland

AN RTÉ broadcaster has been remembered as "iconic" and a "legend" following his death at the age of 88.

Donncha Ó Dúlaing, who was born in Co Cork, began his career in the early 60s and worked on radio and television for the next 50 years.

His death was announced by the broadcaster yesterday.

A fluent Irish speaker and charity fundraiser, Mr Ó Dúlaing was much-loved at home and among Irish communities abroad for his cultural and traditional music programmes.

He was probably best known for the Highways and Byways series during which he travelled the length and breadth of the country talking to people about their lives.

In later years, his Fáilte Isteach programme proved hugely popular and it was on the final edition in April 2015 that he said goodbye to his listeners.

Director general of RTÉ Dee Forbes described Mr Ó Dúlaing as a proud Corkman whose long-running programmes were "as iconic as the man himself".

"A tireless fundraiser, his charity walks were as legendary as the many legends who crossed his path, from Eamon de Valera to Pope John Paul II, Mick Jagger to Gene Kelly," Ms Forbes said.

"When he closed his beloved parlour of dreams with the final Fáilte Isteach in 2015, it brought to an end a 50-year career in broadcasting.

"His contribution to public service broadcasting, to Irish life and Irish lives, was immense."

Head of RTÉ Radio One Peter Woods said Mr Ó Dúlaing was a central part of Irish cultural life during his career as a broadcaster.

"The word 'legend' is sometimes used lightly but he was that," Mr Woods said.

"He loved the road and in an era when radio outside broadcasts usually came from a mobile unit, Donncha adapted early to technology and ranged across the country with a tape recorder. He had great enthusiasm for radio and presented Fáilte Isteach well into his 80s."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute to Mr Ó Dúlaing, calling him "an outstanding broadcaster who brought much joy to his loyal listeners over the decades".

"His interviews will live long in the memory," he said.

Seven years ago, President Michael D Higgins presented a specially commissioned sculpture to Mr Ó Dúlaing, at Áras an Uachtaráin in recognition of his contribution to Irish culture.

In an interview in the Irish Times back in 1998, Mr Ó Dúlaing spoke about how he had left school at 15 and worked as a dental technician before completing an arts degree at University College Cork and graduating at the age of 28.

After a brief period as a teacher, he left to become a trainee manager with Ford in Dagenham, England. When he went for the interview for programme assistant at Radio Eireann's regional office in Cork they asked him why he wanted the job."I think radio will broaden my mind," he said.

Mr Ó Dúlaing is survived by four sons. He was predeceased by his daughter Sinéad and by his wife Vera, who died last Sunday.

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