RTÉ journalist Cathal O'Shannon dies aged 83

Saturday 22 October 2011 22.13
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Cathal O'Shannon pictured here at his famous interview with Muhammad Ali
Cathal O'Shannon pictured here at his famous interview with Muhammad Ali
Cathal O'Shannon is perhaps best remembered as a television presenter
Cathal O'Shannon is perhaps best remembered as a television presenter

Former RTÉ journalist and filmmaker Cathal O'Shannon has passed away at the age of 83.

Mr O'Shannon flew with the RAF during the World War II, and later became a reporter with the Irish Times.

He was a journalist and documentary maker with RTÉ, filming the first deployment of Irish troops overseas on a UN mission to the Congo among many other works.

Born in 1928, Cathal O'Shannon grew up in what was for the times a liberal household.

His father, Cathal Sr, had been a prominent republican and socialist and at the age of 16 Cathal Óg armed with a forged baptismal cert joined the RAF - the first chapter in an adventurous life.

Mr O'Shannon's first job in journalism was with the Irish Times
and he became what was a rarity at the time - a war correspondent.

He joined the Irish troops on their ill-fated expedition to the Congo.

He also worked on the paper's London desk - where he met and married the love of his life, Patsy.

But it is as a television presenter he is perhaps best remembered.

Broadcaster Terry Wogan described him as possibly Ireland's greatest television journalist and programmes such as his interview with Muhammad Ali became iconic pieces of television.

Among his other notable achievements was the Spanish Civil War documentary 'Even the Olives are Bleeding'.

Commenting on his death, Noel Curran, Director-General of RTÉ, said:

“Cathal O'Shannon has passed away almost on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the inception of Irish television broadcasting.

"He was without question one of the foremost talents of these first 50 years, with a combination of remarkable gifts.

“He could handle local Irish stories with charm, grasp major historical themes in longer documentary form, and in all forms and on all occasions he spoke to the viewer through the camera with remarkable ease and facility.

“He was, both on camera and in person, one of the most persuasive and gifted presenters ever to work with and on RTÉ. All of his present and former colleagues join in tribute to his major and singular contribution to our broadcasting. May he and his beloved Patsy rest in peace."