2015 Press Releases

New book on Gay Byrne

20 Nov 2015
‘If you grow up in Ireland, you are never going to be as famous as Gay Byrne’ (Bono, U2).

It is no exaggeration to call Gay Byrne a colossus of Irish broadcasting according to UCC historian Dr Finola Doyle-O'Neill in her book The Gaybo Revolution - How Gay Byrne challenged Irish society. 

Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, as host of both the Late Late Show and the Gay Byrne Show, he played a seminal role in the shift in Irish society and culture from a largely Church-dominated society of the 1960s to the modern multicultural Ireland of today. He set the template for the talk show in Ireland, both on radio and television.

Reviled and revered in equal measure, Gay Byrne has been referred to as ‘the great window-opener’ and a ‘father confessor’ to the nation, even a ‘media lay priest’. He shone a spotlight on some of the darkest and most taboo areas of Irish life, and he got the nation talking about them.  His influence in single-channel Ireland is undeniable. Using letters to the editor, media articles, recent studies of Irish culture, quotes from Byrne himself and a re-examination of the original broadcasts, The Gaybo Revolution explores how Byrne and his talk shows provided a forum for popular debate, and acted as catalysts for change in Irish life. Examining controversies that shocked the nation, such as ‘the Bishop and the Nightie’ affair, the development of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement, the letters following the death of Ann Lovett, and the seminal interviews with Annie Murphy, Pádraig Flynn, Gerry Adams and Terry Keane, Finola Doyle O’Neill takes us on a journey through Ireland’s recent past.

In the final section of the book, the modern history of the Late Late Show, the development of Irish TV and radio talk shows in the post-Byrne era and the contrasting nature of TV talk shows in the UK and US are explored.

The Gaybo Revolution will appeal to all those who wish to understand the evolution of Irish society and culture in the late twentieth century.  

Dr Finola Doyle O’Neill is a broadcast historian with the School of History at UCC where she lectures in Ireland’s Film and Media History. She wrote a chapter in Ordinary Irish Life: Music, Sport and Culture (2013), has contributed widely to public debates and conferences on Ireland’s media history, and was convenor of TV50, a collaboration between UCC and RTÉ celebrating 50 years of television in Ireland. She chairs the board of the Undergraduate Arts and Media Awards and is a board member of the Cork Film Festival and the UCC Board of Film Studies. She is currently archiving the contents of the Irish Radio Museum at Cork City Gaol. 

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