Terry Wogan made ordinary life special

If there was another Irish broadcaster who forced me to sit in the car park  and make me late for work it was Gay Byrne. Gay had a similar subversive streak and a light touch with a sting in the tail. But he did not  travel so well across the Irish Sea, nor did he aspire to.  Terry Wogan gave comfort  to millions by spreading the  word that  the struggles of daily life are shared far more widely than we thought, and at an hour when many of us needed a fix of encouragement  to go with the shot of caffeine.  In  Broadcasting House, in Maidenhead Berks.,  and on  innumerable  golf courses, he remained an Irishman from Limerick, but never one with an overdeveloped sense of  origins. It’s fair to say he managed to duck being drawn into the Troubles without attracting resentment.  It was the facility to treat fantasy like an old friend that was his most obvious Irish characteristic. This was noticed by that other sharpest of BBC insiders, the arts commentator Mark Lawson, writing in the Guardian.


He was a keen reader of Irish authors from James Joyce to William Trevor and, above all, Brian O’Nolan, the satirist and surrealist whose wild but jaunty tone Wogan knowingly adapted to the airwaves. Possessing a natural high intelligence – honed by education in Limerick and Dublin from Jesuit priests, the intellectual SAS of the Roman Catholic church – Wogan became one of the few presenters on radio music stations whose audiences routinely wanted the singers to shut up so that they could hear more of the host talking.

his two occupations of the Radio 2 morning slot, Wogan memorably applied a vital lesson – the benefit of building up a stock of catchphrases and characters – learned from O’Nolan, who wrote novels, including At Swim-Two-Birds, under the name Flann O’Brien, and whose newspaper columns, under the byline Myles na gCopaleen, Wogan had read when growing up.

, ,

  • Robin Keogh

    There is a great sense of loss at Wogan’s passing. He was a priceless Irish export, his uniqueness and wonderful character played a massive part in placing Ireland as one of the most loved and respected nations internationally. Wogan was a perfect example of the best of us. Rest in Peace.

  • I’m of an age to have known Terry Wogan primarily as a TV persona, rather than on radio. He was always a welcome presence on any show – dry wit and self-deprecating.

    He will be missed.

  • the rich get richer

    He did a good two part series on Ireland a few years ago. Its well worth a watch. He could probably have made a four part series but for whatever they settled on two but it is still worth watch.

  • Nevin

    Terry Wogan in his own words [2007]:

    “No, I don’t keep up with Irish politics. There are lots of Irish people I know who’ve been here longer than me who still get all the Irish papers. I don’t see Ireland as home because home is where your family is. This is home to me. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve ever lived in Ireland.”

  • murdockp

    For me as the outpouring of grief in the UK has shown, he did more to cement Anglo Irish relations than any UK or Irish politician ever did.
    Terry made English people see Irish people as being from a home nation.
    In fact I would go further and say I suffered positive discrimination when I went to look for work in London, I always got offered the job as people felt people from Ireland had a good nature about them and work ethic and Terry helped cement this view on a daily basis.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Ahh Nevin: do you not think that Terry did not regard himself as Irish? Journalists are people ever seeking to turn a phrase to generate a story.