The late Paddy O’Byrne, a major radio name in two countries, dies in Mullingar

Wednesday, 11th December, 2013 11:43am

The late Paddy O’Byrne, a major radio name in two countries, dies in Mullingar

The late Paddy O'Byrne, who died on Wednesday, and his wife, Vicky, who died in January.

One of the biggest names in South African radio, Paddy O’Byrne, died in Mullingar on Wednesday of last week – only four days short of his 84th birthday.
Just three years ago, Mr O’Byrne was honoured in South Africa for his contribution to broadcasting; being named as an inaugural inductee into the Radio Hall of Fame at the MTN Radio Awards Gala, in Johannesburg.
His death occurred the day before that of the heroic Nelson Mandela – a man who, while in prison, took solace from hearing over the airwaves the voice of a man once described as “the best known Irishman in South Africa”.
On Mandela’s release, the two men got to know each other and Mr O’Byrne was a personal friend of Mr Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi.
Mr O’Byrne, a native of Killiney, was the eldest surviving son of Supreme Court judge, the late Mr Justice John O’Byrne, who served as Ireland’s Attorney General between 1924 and 1926 and his wife, the late Marjorie (née McGuire).
He attended St Mary’s College, Rathmines, Castleknock College and then UCD, from where he graduated with a degree in Legal and Political Science. He was called to the Kings Inns in 1952.
Two years later, he turned his back on his legal career, moving to join the George Mitchell Singers in London, and later, an insurance company.
In summer season in Llandudno, he met a young Dublin singer and dancer, Vicky Fitzpatrick, who was to become his wife, and the couple were parents to Jane, John (who, sadly, died in 1980), and Dominic.
Emigrating to South Africa in 1958, Mr O’Byrne began his foray into the world of broadcasting, winning, in 1961, The Voice of South Africa competition, which garnered him a contract with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and the start of a new career.
In 1980, when a new radio station Channel 702 was launched, Mr O’Byrne’s was the first voice heard on it. Other stations for which he worked included the community radio station Radio Today in Johannesburg, the Catholic station, Radio Veritas in Johannesburg, and Fine Music Radio in Cape Town.
Mr O’Byrne moved to Mullingar in 2001 with his family, but even in retirement, he did stand-in broadcasts on Lyric FM, and his programmes for Fine Music Radio were recorded here, and sent to South Africa for broadcast.
Mr O’Byrne was predeceased in January of this year by Vicky, who died at Newbrook Nursing Home.
He is survived by his daughter Jane and son Dominic; his grandchildren, Laura, Justin, Charlotte and Thomas; his brothers, John (London) and Michael (Canada), his nieces, nephews, cousins, and is mourned by a legion of friends and admirers around the world.
Prayers for the repose of Mr O’Byrne’s soul were offered at Newbrook Nursing Home Chapel last Friday, and the funeral Mass was celebrated at St Michael’s Church, Castletown-Geoghegan, on Saturday.

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