The Nation Holds Its Breath: George Hamilton is still at the top of his game

Book review: The soccer commentator’s gossip-free memoir recalls how his career unfolded

George Hamilton was one of the few broadcaster who moved from the BBC to RTÉ. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

George Hamilton was one of the few broadcaster who moved from the BBC to RTÉ. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Broadcasting is all about the voice, and RTÉ has produced its share of extraordinary voices, from Gay Byrne to Olivia O’Leary to Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. But because he is such a low-key and polished presence, it is easy to forget that George Hamilton has been the voice in our heads and in our living rooms for some of the more extraordinary social moments in the history of the Irish State. 

Hamilton has been RTÉ’s chief football commentator since the middle of the 1980s. Since 2003 he has presented a classical music show on Lyric FM, where his cheerful insistence on properly accented name pronunciation transfers smoothly from obscure middle-European wingers to long dead composers. Quiz buffs of a certain vintage recall him as the smiley sidekick to the late Jimmy McGee’s cameo as The Memory Man on the long-running RTÉ television show, Know Your Sport. 

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