Charlie Bird: Tributes pour in for 'journalist of his generation'

The 74-year-old was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2021.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

14.15 12 Mar 2024

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Charlie Bird: Tributes pour in...

Charlie Bird: Tributes pour in for 'journalist of his generation'

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

14.15 12 Mar 2024

Share this article

Charlie Bird has been remembered as the “journalist of his generation” among the tributes pouring in today. 

The legendary broadcaster and journalist died yesterday at the age of 74.

The former RTÉ Chief News Correspondent is credited with covering some of the biggest stories in modern Irish history, including the Stardust Fire and the kidnapping of Don Tidey.


After he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2021, his Climb with Charlie campaign raised over €3 million for Pieta House and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Leading tributes today was President Michael D Higgins who said it was “hard to underestimate” the value of Charlie’s charity work.

“The dignity, strength, hope and inspiration with which Charlie carried the burden of his illness was remarkable,” he said.

“In a way that was truly extraordinary, Charlie redefined our collective perspective on the illness of Motor Neurone Disease and terminal illness more generally.

“His dedicated pursuit of the truth, and immense ability to build warm relationships that would last through life with all those with whom he came in contact, made him one of the outstanding journalists of his generation.”

Bertie Ahern, Charlie Bird and Pat Kenny, 2-2-2023. Image: Fennell Photography

RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst said he was a huge inspiration to his friends and colleagues.

“Charlie has been such a huge figure in people’s lives for the last 40-plus years,” he said.

“He is remembered from his time at RTÉ as one of our best-known and leading news correspondents covering all the major stories for audiences here.

"But also, within RTÉ he was really well-liked and admired by all his colleagues and he was generous with his time - he is going to be really missed by all of his colleagues.”

'Sad day'

On Lunchtime Live today, his longtime friend Paul Allen, who was also the lead Climb with Charlie organiser, said it was a “shocking sad day”.

“Today is one of those days you think about, you expect the call but nothing can prepare you for it,” he said.

“It’s a shocking sad day and my thoughts are with Clare and Charlie’s family.

“He fought the good fight and we remember him in terms of his fun, his passion for doing the job he did – be it world or domestic news.”

Newstalk presenter Pat Kenny said his former colleague “exemplified courage” in his final years.

“To borrow from Shakespeare, ‘Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it,’” he said.

“In his last years, he exemplified courage, fortitude, a generosity of spirit, and acceptance of his condition.

“Of course, he was also involved in massive funding for motor neuron research.

“My thoughts today go particularly towards his wife Claire who was by his side all the way through a very difficult and harrowing journey.”

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the broadcaster’s death.

“He inspired so many with the courage, generosity of spirit, and dignity he faced his battle with Motor neuron disease," he said.

“As a journalist and broadcaster for RTÉ, Charlie had few peers.”

Charlie is remembered by his wife Claire, their two children Neasa and Orla, and five grandchildren.

You can listen back here:

Main image: Charlie Bird and Claire Mould pictured on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy. Picture: Andres Poveda

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Charlie Bird Climb With Charlie Kevin Bakhurst Link In Bio Lunchtime Live Mary Lou McDonald Pat Kenny Paul Allen Pieta President Michael D Higgins Tanaiste Michael Martin

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