RTÉ Radio 1 Rising Time host Shay Byrne has said he is "extremely lucky" to be back on air, having contracted Covid-19 at the end of last year.

Byrne returned to RTÉ Radio 1 at 5:30am on Tuesday, telling listeners: "A very good morning to you. It's Tuesday - already! - the 19th of January, 2021. My first time to say that [knocks on table]. And it's Shay Byrne here until seven. Thank God. I'm back."

He then thanked Louise Heraghty, Lilian Smith and Neil Doherty, who looked after Rising Time while he was "off, trying to get back to some sort of health". 

"As you may or may not know, I was off because I had Covid-19," Byrne explained. "It came to visit the house. But I am almost back to normality. I'm certainly well enough to go back to work."

He also thanked listeners for all their good wishes. 

"I am absolutely over the moon, emotional and delighted to be back."

Byrne shared his story later on the show as he was welcomed back by RTÉ Sport's Darren Frehill.  

"The 22nd of December was my last show and then unfortunately I was a close contact and then developed Covid-19 then just around Christmas time, so we'd a positive test then after Christmas," he recounted. "Sure, there was no Christmas dinner. We were all in our own rooms, hiding from each other. 

"I just want to say a very quick opportunity - and I won't mention it again because there's people in terrible condition, in dire state at the moment in hospitals and things - but I've been extremely lucky. Extremely lucky. I was ill - quite ill - for about a week and a half, but at home and being well looked after by family and friends and neighbours. My aunt, who'd be well over 70, decided to drop in a full shop into the porch one of the days. 

"People were very good and looked after us extremely well, and people in RTÉ as well, checking up on us. I'm feeling glad to be back. I was certified back to work last week by the GP for today, so I'm feeling extremely grateful. 

"I just want to say to anybody who's listening as well - and I know this goes across the board and across the country and across the world probably - people are very good. When they find out that you're ill, people are amazing. On [St] Stephen's Day, one of our friends went down and got us something that we needed - just left his family and went down and got what we needed. It's much, much, much appreciated. But I'm delighted to be back, I have to say. And I'm feeling very privileged to have recovered."  

Byrne said he was "incredulous" when he received the news that he had Covid-19.

"We couldn't figure out how it came to the house," he continued. "I wasn't alone in that. It knocks you for six, it really does. And then other people weren't as ill, and I was more ill than I thought I'd be. 

"I'll never forget getting the text that said ['you have Covd-19'] from the HSE - from 'Funderland' as we were calling it, because when we went [to be tested] all of us went with the kids and that. It's actually in the Simmonscourt Pavilion in the RDS, where you might go to Funderland. [Laughs] So, the kids were going to Funderland. They were like, 'Great!'. Slightly different ride this time, but we were extremely lucky. 

"People are asking me what they should do, and I of course wouldn't give out medical advice of any sort, other than the basic things. Be prepared. Hopefully, it'll never come near you and do everything - the masks and stay away, wash your hands, as Joe would say. 'Wash your hands!'. 

"But, I would say, just be prepared. [Have] the basics that you might need and a good thermometer was very good for us. But there's loads of good advice from GPs online, or even just ring your GP, or the chemist. The chemist was brilliant and gave us some great advice. In fact, one of the little things I got [was] a medical device that I was able to measure my oxygen levels. I ended up not having to go to hospital when I thought I might have to and I couldn't get my breath, so that was good. 

"So look, I'm on the way back and thank you for asking, and thanks to all the listeners as well, who have been very good."

He signed off by reminding people again to wash their hands.