Cathal Mac Coille retires from Morning Ireland after 16 years

Fellow RTÉ presenter Rachael English praises Mac Coille’s ‘decency and kindness’

Cathal Mac Coille has retired at the age of 65

Cathal Mac Coille has retired at the age of 65

 

RTÉ Morning Ireland presenter Cathal Mac Coille has retired from the programme at the age of 65.

Signing off on Friday morning, Mr Mac Coille thanked the colleagues that he has worked with over the last 16 years and the listeners to Ireland’s most popular radio programme.

His fellow presenter Rachael English paid generous tribute to him though she acknowledged that he wanted no fuss on his retirement.

She said it had been the “absolute privilege” of colleagues to work with him on the programme.

“Listeners will know your professionalism, your determination, your diligence, your good humour and your fondness of hurling,” she told him.

“They mightn’t be as familiar with your decency and your kindness, traits that are always welcome, but they are particularly welcome at 5.30am in the morning. You have those traits in abundance. We’re going to miss you.”

After the end of transmission, colleagues piled into the Morning Ireland studio to pay tribute to him.

His former Morning Ireland colleague Aine Lawlor described him as the “soul of the programme. People talk about all kinds of things but I think Morning Ireland has a soul - a heathen soul - but a noble soul and I think it’s his. He embodies it and I wish him the very best.”

‘One in a million’

Many went on Twitter to convey their appreciation for his services. Health correspondent Fergal Bowers tweeted: “Cathal Mac Coille finishes his last Morning Ireland at RTÉ. A great colleague. Best wishes for the future.”

Prime Time presenter David McCullagh tweeted: “Lovely and well-deserved tribute by @EnglishRachael to @CathalMacCoille on his last #morningireland. Enjoy your retirement, Cathal!”

Sports presenter Darren Frehill tweeted: “Friend, colleague, one in a million @CathalMacCoille thank you”.

In a statement issued after the programme Mr Mac Coille hinted that he may not be done with broadcasting.

“I do know for all kinds of reasons, nothing is forever and I also know that there are all kinds of other things that I want to do and will look forward to doing. I don’t know what they are yet, but I’ve got a few ideas,” he said.

Managing Director of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, Jon Williams said Mr MacCoille will always be part of the “RTÉ family”.

He added: “His greatest legacy is the generation of RTÉ journalists who were shaped by working with Cathal - who he imbued with his values of decency, curiosity and rigour.”

‘Between drunk and hungover’

Mr Mac Coille is a native of Dublin who has worked most of his career in RTÉ with the exception of his time as an assistant editor with the Sunday Tribune.

He has been a regular on Morning Ireland since 2001. His most newsworthy Morning Ireland interview was probably his notorious breakfast-time chat with Taoiseach Brian Cowen at Fianna Fáil’s autumn gathering in Galway in 2010.

The interview was conducted with the Taoiseach who was reported to have been up until the early hours of the morning the night before socialising.

The then Fine Gael transport spokesman Simon Coveney tweeted that Mr Cowen sounded “between drunk and hungover” on the programme.

Mr Cowen was forced to deny that he had a hangover but said later in the book Hell is at the Gates that he regretted not giving up alcohol when he was Taoiseach to quell perceptions that he drank too much.

Mr Mac Coille lists being present as a journalist at the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement talks as his favourite memory.

“To be there was a privilege and a reminder that politics can progress, no matter how many delays and complications arise along the way,”he said.