Ryan Tubridy has promised that tonight's Late Late Show tribute to Gay Byrne will be "really special".

The veteran broadcaster passed away on Monday, November 4, after a long illness. 

Tubridy saluted his "great friend" and "magnificent mentor" on his RTÉ Radio 1 programme on Tuesday morning ahead of tonight's show. He described the Late Late tribute programme as "a happy wake".

Speaking to The Today Show's Brenda Donohue ahead of the show, Tubridy said: "Gay was a once off, so tonight is a once off.

"It makes perfect sense that we gather the troops, gather the family, the friends and to say a final thank you. Tonight isn't going to be maudlin, or morose, or mawkish, it's going to be upbeat, it's going to be fun."

The 90-minute live special on RTÉ One at 9:35pm will feature contributions from Gay Byrne's friends and colleagues across the world of entertainment and beyond, including Bob Geldof, Andrea Corr, Pat Kenny, John Sheahan and Mary McAleese.

President Michael D Higgins will be the first guest on tonight's Late Late Show special 

Also appearing will be President Michael D Higgins, Joe Duffy, Sharon Shannon, John Sheahan, Finbar Furey, Tommy Tiernan, Pat Shortt, Eamon Dunphy, Twink and Mary Black.

The Late Late host used the story of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to explain how Gay Byrne had inspired him.

"I just love the story about the little boy who saw this extraordinary man and thought, 'If I can get into that factory, I'd love to meet that man and learn all his tricks and maybe even run the factory someday [laughs]," Tubridy told his RTÉ Radio 1 listeners

Gay Byrne and Ryan Tubridy - "I watched Gay, and I was in awe"

"And that's what it felt like sometimes: 'Could I get through those gates and work in, what I felt was, this magnificent factory that makes sweets and chocolate and all the best things in life for people?' And that's in many ways the story. 

"I watched Gay, and I was in awe, as many people were, and thought, 'God, someday I'd love to meet him'. I watched him doing the Toy Show and thought, 'Is that a job? All he's doing is...' But of course he was doing nothing of the sort; he was making a very difficult job look easy. As he did every day, and every Friday night or Saturday night depending." 

The Late Late Show Tribute to Gay Byrne, Tuesday, RTÉ One, 9:35pm and on the RTÉ Player

The full line-up for tonight's show is:

President Michael D Higgins

Mary McAleese

Bob Geldof

Pat Kenny

Joe Duffy

Mike Murphy

Andrea Corr

Sharon Shannon

John Sheahan

Finbar Furey

Nell McCafferty

John McColgan

Tommy Tiernan

Pat Shortt

Jon Kenny

Rosaleen Linehan

Eamon Dunphy


Fr Brian D'arcy

Paddy Maloney

Donal Lunny

Nell McCafferty

Michael Carruth 

Moya Doherty

RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes

Vincent Browne

Mary Black

Frank McNamara

Aonghus McAnally