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Claire Byrne worried she’d ‘go to pieces on air’ after dad’s death

The RTÉ broadcaster lost her father Tom (86) last year after a prolonged period of illness.

Broadcaster Claire Byrne at the RTÉ Radio Centre in Donnybrook© . Photo by Steve Humphreys

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Claire Byrne has opened up about almost having a breakdown on air shortly after her father’s death.

The RTÉ broadcaster lost her father Tom (86) last year after a prolonged period of illness.

Speaking to Doireann Garrihy on The Laughs of Your Life podcast, she admitted that she worried she’d “go to pieces” when she returned to work a few days after her dad’s funeral.

“After my father’s funeral, I remember coming back into work that Monday and going, ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’” she explained.

“And it was the first time really I felt like that. I thought I was going to go to pieces on air trying to come up with strategies to deal with it.

“But actually, once the programme started at 10am, I got through it. It was grand.

“When it comes to things that are happening in your own life, you have to just learn to leave that aside. It’s kind of like a break from it; going in and doing your job, you get to leave those things behind.”

The presenter also spoke candidly about the days leading up to her father’s death, which she said was “really difficult” but also “lovely” as her whole family got to spend some quality time with her dad.

Claire said: “He died last June and he was 86 and he had a great life, but we were sort of in denial about him and about the fact that he was going to go.

“So when it happened it was a big shock to all of us.

“The week leading up to his death he was home with us and we were all back home again - so my mother and my five siblings - and we had the best week. The worst week and the best week if that makes sense."

"It was really sad and it was really difficult but it was lovely.

"It was lovely to have him home and it was lovely to be back with everybody.”

She told of how she and her family said goodbye to their dad by sitting around his bed and enjoying some beers together.

Recalling the moment, she said: “The night before he died, I think we were all delirious with the lack of sleep. And we’d normally take shifts, and you know, ‘This has to be done, and that has to be done, and you ring that person.’

“And we just said, do you know what, let’s go down to him in the room and have a bottle of beer.

“And we went down to the room, and it was a beautiful warm summer's evening. And we put some music on, his favourite music, and we drank a bottle of beer, all of us.

“And that was our way of saying goodbye. And I honestly feel that in that moment it was his release.

“Everybody was happy. Everybody was together. There were smiles in the room. The tears were sort of gone for a period of time. He relaxed, we relaxed, and then very early the next morning when we were all with him, he went.

“So, no laughing matter, but I also have a smile in my heart when I’m saying that,” the 47-year-old added.

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