Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird has said he has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Bird said: "Recently I spoke about issues with my voice. I now know why. I have been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease."

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline today, he added: "People get knocked every day, and I've gotten knocked in the last few days, and it's hard to cope with but I'm dealing with it, like everything else, you have to face reality."

Mr Bird said it was on St Patrick's Day that he first noticed that something was not right.

He was walking in the Wicklow Mountains with his wife, Claire, and dog, Tiger, when he first felt that something was not right.

He said: "I got a coughing fit that I never had in my life and it really floored me. Since Patrick's Day, things have been coming and going with my voice and I knew it was something strange."

Mr Bird said he was in a lot of discomfort and has trouble eating and sleeping. But, he still spends lots of time with his family, has been cleared by his consultant to drive, and tries to walk ten miles (16km) every day.

He said: "I do know that at some stage things are going to disimprove."

Mr Bird said he has maintained close friendships with his RTÉ colleagues and said that they have been "remarkable".

He said: "My close friends who worked in RTÉ with me, they have been amazing. They know behind the scenes the journey that has been going on and they have kept me going."

Mr Bird said his dog is a great source of comfort.

He said: "He knows when I'm distressed. It's incredible the love of that creature."

When asked what he did to relax, he said: "I still go to my local pub, sit in the corner and do my crossword. The people in that pub have been brilliant to me. As human beings, they have been bloody marvelous."

Mr Bird said he knows the outcome of his diagnosis and said that so many people get this.

he said: "It's difficult. We all get knocked. There are people in dark places who are not getting a light shone upon them and they should. That is what I want.

"Whatever I can do, for whatever period I am around. I want to keep shining lights on places."

Charlie Bird reporting in his time with RTÉ News (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

Mr Bird spent 38 years in RTÉ, after joining the broadcaster in 1974 as a researcher in current affairs.

He joined the newsroom as a reporter six years later, before becoming chief news correspondent and later Washington Correspondent. He retired from RTÉ in 2012.

Mr Bird has continued his work in journalism as a documentary maker, as well as being an author and playwright.