Charlie Bird says he ‘kept away’ from RTÉ payments row, speaks warmly of Ryan Tubridy

Former RTÉ journalist says he is receiving hospice care and calls for support for September coffee morning in aid of hospice services

Broadcaster Charlie Bird has spoken warmly of former RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy, but said, given his illness, he has “kept away from the current row”.

Communicating through an app that clones his speaking voice and was organised for him after an appearance on RTÉ’s Late Late Show, Mr Bird said “Ryan Tubridy, and the Late Late Show provided great support for me and ClimbwithCharlie on the run up to the climb. This support was vital to the success of our climb of the holy mountain”.

Mr Bird, who revealed he is now receiving hospice care as part of his battle with motor neuron disease (MND), made his remarks at the Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow, where he unveiled the Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice, that takes place in September.

But, he said, “given my deteriorating health situation and the fact I have no voice I have not got involved in the RTÉ row. Also I am gone from the broadcaster for over ten years now so I did not get involved”.


Mr Bird said while at RTÉ he had tried to “extend the hand of friendship to everyone”. He said: “I have a death wish: To all politicians, I want public service broadcasting to continue.

“Given that I worked for the public service broadcaster for 38 years I still believe in public service broadcasting, I believe it plays an important role in our democracy” he said. “Yes, I am really worried about RTÉ’s future. But I want to see the role that all broadcasters play to continue. The press and all broadcasters serve this country very well.”

He also said he was concerned about the future of newspapers.

Turning to his own condition Mr Bird said “every day is a struggle for me now”.

“I want to make one thing very clear: when my time comes, I want to pass away at home surrounded by my family – and the hospice care team say they will look after me there.”

He said “I live each day at a time. My MND has deteriorated, especially affecting my mobility.”

Accompanied by his wife Claire and beloved dog Tiger at the Powerscourt event, Mr Bird urged businesses and communities across Ireland to host a coffee morning to help raise €2 million to support the work of Together for Hospice, the National Hospice Movement.

The former RTÉ chief news correspondent (73) particularly asked coffee shops, hotels and other businesses to join what is expected to be Ireland’s biggest coffee morning on September 21st. But he said even two people sharing a coffee at home can help.

Two years after his diagnosis in autumn 2021, Mr Bird vowed to continue to support groups and charities “as long as I have a breath in my body”.

He said he has been receiving care from Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services at his Wicklow home. But this service, along with 25 other hospice and specialist palliative home care providers across Ireland, needs further support to continue its “brilliant” work, he said.

“None of us knows in this life when we might need hospice care. So please, please extend the hand of friendship and support the hospice wherever they are in the country.

“To those newly diagnosed with MND, I would advise: live each day at a time and fight as hard as you can. There are many great supports there to help us, so please use them.”

His wife Claire said hospice is providing a lifeline to the couple. “They listen and take so much time and care looking after both Charlie’s physical and mental needs and also my needs as Charlie’s wife and carer.

“They never give up on us and their visits to our home give us hope that this dreadful journey can be made less stressful by letting them into our lives,” she said.

Businesses and the public can register to host a coffee morning, supporting their local hospice either on September 21st, or on a date that suits them, on or call 0818 995 996.

Donation can be made at

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist