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Ro way Radio broadcaster Ronan Collins says retirement rumours are “completely untrue'

"Nobody ever tried to retire me in RTÉ. Nobody has ever talked to me about stopping and giving it up."

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:Ronan Collins enjoys his work too much to retire.

:Ronan Collins enjoys his work too much to retire.

:Ronan Collins enjoys his work too much to retire.

LEGENDARY broadcaster Ronan Collins says rumours that he was set to retire from his RTÉ Radio 1 show are "completely untrue".

There was speculation in early 2020 that the radio presenter was leaving the station - and was set to be replaced on the show by country singer Una Healy, who presented the programme when he was on a break.

"I was never due to leave and I never use the word retire," Ronan tells the Sunday World as he discusses it for the first time.

"I don't know where that came from. I took a week off in February last year and while I was away on holiday in Portugal I got word of my impending retirement being talked about. And I have no idea where it came from.

"It was all news to me. Nobody ever spoke to me about retirement. It was also news to RTÉ. Nobody ever tried to retire me in RTÉ. Nobody has ever talked to me about stopping and giving it up."

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Ronan Collins

Ronan Collins

Ronan Collins

Ronan, who will be 69 next Saturday - "the same day as John Lennon would have been 81," he points out - adds: "I'm in my 43rd year doing this and it's been a great privilege. I'm too old to retire now. I'm very aware of the fact that I've been doing this for such a long time, and will I keep doing it forever? No, absolutely not. Am I going to stop this year or next year? I don't think so.

"If RTÉ want to make any changes with me they'll talk to me, but I don't worry about these things. The older I get the less I think it's important to grow old gracefully. Instead, make sure you don't grow up and that you have a good attitude to things."

In a wide-ranging interview, Ronan also spoke about his close friendship with Larry Gogan, his love of performing his late pal Joe Dolan's songs, his chance meeting with Rolling Stone Charlie Watts… and why he doesn't play Irish country music tunes on his show.

"For the most part I work on my own in RTÉ as I produce and present my own show and I don't have any assistants, but the one person I used to seek out every day was Larry Gogan just to say hello.

"There was no reason for it and there was every reason for it. We had turned into really, really great pals. But he was more than that as well…he was an exceptional man.

"I really miss Lar. Just to spend three minutes with him was an absolute joy. He was extraordinary in his ordinariness. He just glowed. They talk about charisma in people…he was a charismatic man. He was great company, he was so witty. And I really do believe that his spirit still roams the building."

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And speaking of legends, Ronan recalls how he once had a chance encounter with Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones in iconic Irish tailor Louis Copeland's Dublin shop.

"I was doing TV at the time and I would get my clothes from Louis," Ronan says. "You never knew who you were going to meet when you dropped in. There'd be famous snooker players, and I met Liam Neeson there as well.

"One day, about 30 years ago, Charlie Watts was there when I called. Charlie, of course, was as famous for his sense of style as his musicianship. So there I was with Louis and Charlie having this big conversation, not about music, but about clothes."

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Charlie Watts (Jane Barlow/PA)

Charlie Watts (Jane Barlow/PA)

Charlie Watts (Jane Barlow/PA)

As well as presenting his RTÉ radio shows that include The Collins Collection, which features artists talking about their life in music, Ronan is also a singer and has enjoyed huge success covering the songs of his old friend Joe Dolan.

"I love doing live shows, not for financial gain because there's very little money to be made in Ireland, but it's the emotional rewards you get from performing and having a connection with an audience, whether it's one person listening or a thousand. It's why people keep doing it.

"As well as getting a kick out of performing live, I also love the company of musicians. I'm looking forward to getting back on stage - and my first show will be in Killarney on Saturday, October 17, at Stars in the Kingdom."

Ronan plays an eclectic mix of music on his daily radio show, but rarely features Irish country artists.

"I have a good relationship with the country music artists and I know a lot of them, and what strikes me about them is how sincere and honest they are about their work," Ronan says.

"But their songs are for dancing and they don't fit what I do at that time of the day. I've played them all many times singing love songs, but once I hear it's jiving or a quick step I don't play them."

• Ronan Collins will join stars including Red Hurley, Paddy Cole and Linda Martin at the music weekend, Stars in the Kingdom, in the INEC, Killarney, starting Friday, October 15.

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