Ó Muircheartaigh enjoys high life as he celebrates 80th birthday on air

Sat, Aug 21, 2010, 01:00

VETERAN broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh was on top of the world yesterday as he celebrated his 80th birthday from one of Ireland’s highest peaks.

The sports commentator was joined by almost two dozen friends and family members as he broadcast live from the top of Mount Brandon.

There was nowhere that he would rather be, he told RTÉ Raidió Na Gaeltachta from the 952m peak.

The mountain is just miles from Dun Sion in An Daingean, Co Kerry, where Ó Muircheartaigh was born in 1930.

Ó Muircheartaigh began his commentating career for Raidió Éireann in 1949. Yesterday he spoke of the technological advances he had witnessed such as those which allowed him to broadcast from the mountain-top.

He joked that next year he might try to do the same from Mount Everest.

Ó Muircheartaigh hopes to continue his active birthday celebrations on Monday by playing golf in St Andrews in Scotland.

He said that it was important to grab every chance and to enjoy the life you are presented with.

He fondly recalled his best sporting memories including seeing Kerry win 20 All-Ireland football finals.

He also spoke of the first time that the Sam Maguire Cup crossed the Border when it was won by Down in 1960.

The radio station yesterday announced that Micheál – Tráchtaire ár Linnea special live programme celebrating Ó Muircheartaigh’s contribution to Irish life would be broadcast on September 10th.

Meanwhile, listeners to RTÉ’s 2fm were taken by surprise yesterday when presenter Ryan Tubridy took to the airwaves to replace his old mentor Gerry Ryan three days earlier than expected.

Tubridy was due to begin on Monday, but the presenter, who confessed during the week that he couldn’t wait, began broadcasting yesterday morning .

Tubridy said his intention was to “ambush” listeners early.

The launch of the programme ahead of schedule was a well-kept secret. Among the programme’s first guests was U2’s Bono, giving a rare interview since the back injury led to the cancellation of a leg of the band’s European tour earlier this year.

Bono said Tubridy would have “big shoes to fill. He [Gerry Ryan] had a big foot and a big mouth to put it in.”

He told Tubridy: “Gerry appeared to me last night in a dream and he said ‘that fellow Ryan Tubridy used to work making me coffee years ago and I always knew he had his eyes on my gig’.”

Bono revealed on the show that he could have ended up crippled without intensive treatment to his back.

He said: “I had a pretty close call. What was dangerous about it was that a piece of disc that had ripped through ligaments had gone down into the spinal canal and I could have lost the use of my left leg.”

“Being the frontman in U2 is a great job and a reason for me to stick to what has been a really very hard programme of about three and a half to four hours a day of rehab which consists usually of German doctors beating me up and pushing me into all kinds of positions and exercises.”