The former RTÉ broadcaster and PR executive Bill O’Herlihy has passed away at home in Dublin.
O’Herlihy was 76 and stepped down from his broadcasting career last year after 49 years, during which time he anchored many of the station’s top sports programmes including all the recent FIFA World Cups, UEFA European Football Championships, Olympic Games and the World Track and Field Championships.
His journalistic career began at the age of 16 when he became journalist with the Cork Examiner. His first broadcast for RTÉ was in 1965 when he reported on the commemorations of the sinking of the Lusitania off the Cork coast.
He also established O’Herlihy Communications Group in 1973 which later went on to become one of the country’s top PR firms for many years. In March, the company announced that it was merging with Insight Consultants.
“Everyone in RTÉ is devastated at today’s news. Bill O’Herlihy was a giant of the sporting and broadcasting worlds in this country,” said Noel Curran, Director-General, RTÉ.
“His contribution to broadcasting was utterly unique. For decades he was at the centre of some of Ireland’s greatest sporting moments. He never hid his emotions on those big occasions, from disappointment to utter joy, and for this he was greatly loved. But he was also a fantastic broadcaster and interviewer, getting the very best out of his interview panels and provoking debate and insight, and for this he was also hugely admired. Our sincere sympathies go to Bill’s wife Hillary, daughters Jill and Sally, grandchildren, family, friends and colleagues,” concluded Curran.
The Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) have also offered their condolences to his family.
PRII President Jacqueline Hall said “While best known for his work with RTÉ, Bill O’Herlihy was a major figure in the Irish public relations community over the past forty years. In recognition of his considerable and longstanding commitment to the profession, he was made a Fellow of the PRII in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and his colleagues at this difficult time.”
PRCA Chairman Sharon Murphy said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Bill O’ Herlihy’s passing. He was a founding member of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) having established his own PR agency, O’ Herlihy Communications in 1973. We are very grateful for his enormous contribution to the industry and we offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time”.