Bill O’Herlihy: A man of charm and humanity

IT is possible to argue that, with the possible exception of Michael O’Hehir, Bill O’Herlihy was the broadcaster most universally welcome in Irish homes over the last 50 years.

Others might reach to claim that crown but the modesty and humanity that defined all of O’Herlihy’s many careers — and gilded his lightly worn professionalism — put him in a pretty thinly populated category.

Though he became best known as a sports journalist, he wore many hats with considerable aplomb. An émigré from this parish he began his career in newspapers and had a considerable influence in Irish politics, public relations, broadcasting and news journalism.

It was reassuring too to hear some of the tributes paid to him by colleagues. For once, the man measured up to the public persona, a fact confirmed by those who remembered with obvious affection and thanks the confidence-building help he gave them in the early years of their careers.

O’Herlihy presented 10 World Cups for RTÉ and 10 Olympic Games. He also presented the first Rugby World Cup on RTÉ television as well as co-presenting the very first Sunday Game with Jim Carney in 1979. It is safe to say that that record will never be equalled. He did many things, one was regularly celebrating his happy family life, but it may just be possible that his greatest legacy is that he showed us all that being really good at your job can be great fun.

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