'He returns now to his beloved Florrie': Larry Gogan dies age 81

Veteran RTÉ broadcaster Larry Gogan has died.

'He returns now to his beloved Florrie': Larry Gogan dies age 81

Additional reporting by Neil Michael and Vivienne Clarke.

Veteran RTÉ broadcaster Larry Gogan has died. He was 81.

Larry worked in RTÉ radio for over 50 years.

He was part of the original line-up for Radio 2, which later became RTÉ 2fm, in 1979.

"Larry was a huge part of the foundation on which 2FM was built – he was, arguably, the greatest music DJ in Irish broadcasting history; that gorgeous voice; that genius with a link; that love for the music," said Dan Healy, Head of RTÉ 2FM.

"Larry won all the major radio awards in Ireland but over and above them all he had the one that mattered most: universal popularity.

Everyone loved Larry, and we’ll all miss him deeply.

Larry presented The Golden Hour up until February 2014 and was famous for both his "Just a Minute Quiz" and his l legendary catchphrases, including the line "They didn't really suit you".

On 8 January 2019, he moved from 2FM to RTÉ Gold - he presented his last programme on 2FM on Thursday 31 January.

"Larry Gogan was a legend, and a genuine national institution," said RTÉ Director General, Dee Forbes.

Larry Gogan in 1986
Larry Gogan in 1986

"He transcended generations – whether it was a hilarious moment on the Just a Minute Quiz, the breakneck countdown of the weekly top 40, or the first play of a Christmas song – Larry didn’t just preserve these traditions, he created them.

"Legendary, cross-generational, universally popular: The Golden Hour and the “Just a Minute Quiz” were national institutions, just the like the man himself.

He returns now to his beloved Florrie - we are the poorer for his loss, but the richer for having known this gentleman of the airwaves.

Larry met his wife Florrie when she was 15. Both their fathers ran newspaper shops in Dublin. They were engaged two years later and married when she was 21. Florrie died in January 2002.

A Jacob’s winner, he was also awarded the IRMA Honours Award "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Irish music", and the Industry Award at the 2007 Meteor Awards.

"Larry Gogan defined the Irish popular music scene for decades; he advocated for Irish artists and Irish music throughout his career, meaning he was respected not only by audiences, but by musicians too," said RTÉ's Director of Content, Jim Jennings.

"This, in many ways, was his unique quality: he was loved by the listener, and loved by the artist. Larry’s legacy will endure in popular culture and the popular imagination for decades to come."

Broadcaster Pat Kenny, who was a close friend, paid tribute to Larry.

"Larry was one of the great radio originals," he said.

"His voice up to his last broadcast remained as young and fresh and his taste in music as young and fresh as you could imagine.

"We soldiered together on Eurovision Song Contest trips where he did the radio commentary and I did the TV commentary for a number of years and he was the best of company."

One of the founding producers of 2fm, Ian Wilson said that Mr Gogan had been “a total gentleman” who was “a complete genius at radio.”

Some people seemed to consider the job of presenting a music show as easy, but he defied anyone to do so as well as Larry Gogan. “He was unique.”

Liveline presenter Joe Duffy had visited Mr Gogan only 10 days when he found him in great form and he was “deeply shocked” that he had passed so quickly. “His voice was still the same.”

Larry Gogan had been the voice of the “new swinging Ireland”, he added.

Mr Gogan had loved that his name was referenced in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. He was also the person sent by RTÉ to broadcast in the event of problems with the Millennium Bug.

“He was the first person at RTÉ that visitors wanted to meet and he always had a welcome for everyone. You didn’t have to meet him in person to know he was a nice person, it was in his voice.”

Ian Wilson added that Mr Gogan loved meeting people at outside broadcasts. “Everyone had a story associated with him. People thought they knew him personally.

“He was unfailingly polite, but he was also his own man and no fool.”

Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats has spoken of how important Larry Gogan was to young Irish bands for supporting, encouraging and promoting them.

If it was a good song and he liked it, he was behind it. He put the wind in your sails.

The Band Aid founder said how the passing of Larry Gogan, in the wake of the deaths of Marian Finucane and Gay Byrne, represented the “culling” of a whole generation of voices “that still resonate in your head.”

The Boomtown Rats song Like Clockwork was the first song played on the newly founded 2fm by Larry Gogan. “It was a source of pride for him.”

Mr Geldof said that for rural Ireland of the late 1970s Larry Gogan was “a lifeline to the contemporary.”

“Larry didn’t intellectualise music, he would just want to introduce us to this.

“Who else could give you a shot? That was Larry. He represented what the people felt.”

President Higgins has paid tribute to Larry and offered his condolences to the Gogan family.

“People all over Ireland will have been greatly saddened by the news of the death of Larry Gogan, legendary broadcaster and much loved DJ.

For six decades, Larry Gogan made an indelible impact on Irish music, having promoted both up-and-coming and more established Irish musicians and sharing his infectious enthusiasm and passion for pop and rock music of all kinds.

"Blessed with one of the warmest voices in Irish broadcasting, Larry Gogan not only defined RTÉ’s coverage of music, but also shaped the mould for many generations of DJs.

"His ‘Just A Minute’ quiz will continue to live in the minds of Irish people everywhere.

"It was a great privilege to have had opportunities to meet him and discuss our shared love of music."

Larry is survived by his five children - Gerard, Orla, Grainne, David and Sinead - and 12 grandchildren.

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