He was often regarded as an austere taoiseach, but Liam Cosgrave was also known for his waspish wit and sense of humour.

Speaking in October 2010 at the launch of RTÉ presenter David McCullagh's John A Costello biography, 'The Reluctant Taoiseach', Mr Cosgrave had the audience in fits of laughter with his deadpan delivery.

He told the amused gathering that the occasion demanded him to "cover a great deal of ground" some of which "may to sensitive ears sound a bit rough".

He quipped: "As far as I'm concerned, I propose to stick entirely to the facts, which may be slightly unusual for the Taoiseach."