Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy has paid tribute to Gay Byrne this evening saying, "We're down a good person". 

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Ryan Tubridy said: "We’re down a man, and I think the country is down a good person."

Mr Tubridy said Gay Byrne was generous with giving advice to colleagues and the one thing that stood out to him was Gay’s curiosity as well as his humanity and empathy.

He said: "He was great fun until the end. There was devilment in him, there was life in the old dog 'til the very end. He educated us, he was a mentor, he was a friend, he was an icon, he was critical to the fabric of this country’s story in the last 50 plus years. He will be missed like no one has been missed in this place."

Also speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, his friend and colleague Joe Duffy said Gay’s line was "if we don’t have a programme that engages people, that entertains people, you won’t have a programme that can talk about difficult social issues and you won’t have that national conversation".

Mr Duffy said he was extraordinarily fair and extraordinarily hard working.

He said even throughout his illness and right to the end he maintained his sense of fun and loved show-business.

Mr Duffy added to that by saying: "If the Ireland of the last six decades was a voice - it was Gay Byrne. If it had a voice - it was Gay Byrne. We are all the better for his life."

Speaking earlier onn RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Tubridy said he got the news today as he was filming a piece for the Late Late Toy Show and said even though he knew Gay had been sick and that the end was coming, it was still quite shocking.

He said he hoped Gay’s family would take strength from the comments and stories being shared about him today across all media outlets.

Mr Tubridy recalled the first time he phoned Gay’s house to ask to meet him for advice about presenting the Rose of Tralee.

He described the meeting as akin to when the apprentice meets the sorcerer and said Gay gave him some of the best advice and he said it was one the reasons he was still working for RTÉ.

Mr Tubridy described him as iconic and said he was a wonderful friend. He said the last time he spoke with him was about six weeks ago at a hotel close to where he lived, which Mr Tubridy said became Gay’s unofficial canteen.

There will be a Late Late Show special tomorrow night at 9.35pm on RTÉ One.