DEATH OF A LEGEND – Charlie Bird 1949-2024

One of Ireland’s best-known and beloved journalists has died aged 74 after a long battle with Motor neurone disease.

Charlie occupied a special place in the affections of Irish news consumers, having reported on some of the biggest stories during his 40-year career with RTÉ, including the Stardust fire, the Troubles in the North, the NI Peace Process, and the 11th of September terrorist attacks in the US.

But it was his immense courage and grace after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease that so impressed the nation, not least through his Croagh Patrick 'Climb with Charlie' campaign, which was announced on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show.  On the 2nd of April 2022, thousands climbed peaks around Ireland in support of Charlie as he made his own pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick. The campaign raised over €3million for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and mental health charity, Pieta.

In 2002, he wrote a bestselling book, Time and Tide, which documented, with searing honesty, the challenges of living with terminal motor neurone disease. The book won Biography of the Year at the 2022 An Post Irish Book Awards, and few who were there will forget his grace and courage while addressing a large audience in Dublin – something he was able to do with the aid of a device specially designed to enable communication through his iPad.

Towards the end of his life, Charlie posted a message on social media which was typical of the man; it read, “I keep promising while I have a breath in my body I am going to continue to extend the hand of friendship. Love you all."

Charlie Bird kept that promise, and his loss will be deeply felt throughout Ireland. He is survived by his wife Claire, daughters Orla and Nessa, grandchildren Abigail, Charlie, Edward, Harriet and Hugo, and his three brothers.

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