RTÉ broadcaster Colm Murray has died from Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 61.
Mr Murray was one of the Ireland’s best known sports presenters and was particularly loved among those in the horse racing community.
Originally from Moate, Co Westmeath, he was diagnosed with MND three years ago and had battled the illness for some time.
His death was announced this morning and was immediately followed by a host of tributes.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Mr Murray as the voice of Irish racing for many years, praising his passion and enthusiasm for covering horse racing.
He said: “I had the pleasure of being in Colm’s company recently and could see he was a proud Westmeath man who brought out the best in those around him with his affability and gift for storytelling.”
“I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Ann, and daughters, Patricia and Kate, and sister, Mary.
“He is also a huge loss to all in RTÉ and my thoughts are with all who had the pleasure of knowing Colm during his lifetime.”
Many friends and colleagues of Mr Murray took to Twitter this morning to express their shock and sympathies at the news including friends from the horse-racing world.
Trainer Ted Walsh too to RTÉ Radio and described Mr Murray as “great company”.
He added: “He loved to have a bet, loved to do the auld jackpot. He wasn’t a big compulsive gambler, but he loved a bet and loved going racing.
“He was just a joy to be with. He wasn’t one of those fellas who when you went into a room you wanted to buzz away and sit somewhere else.
“You wanted to sit alongside him and get the stories. He was enthusiastic. He was just one of nature’s gentlemen.”
Mr Murray survived by his wife, Anne, daughters Kate and Patricia and his sister, Mary.
He was a teacher before joining RTÉ as a continuity announcer
A graduate of University College Galway, where he earned a BA degree in French, English and History in 1972, Mr Murray taught for three years at secondary schools in Athlone and Tullamore, having completed his Higher Diploma in Education at Maynooth University.
In 1975 he moved to Dublin where he taught French, English and History in Ballymun Comprehensive School.
He changed career direction in 1978 and moved to RTÉ Radio as a continuity announcer.
Then having presented various programmes he became a newscaster in 1983.
In 1988, when RTÉ introduced its hour-long Six One News format, he moved into sports broadcasting as a sports presenter and a founding member of the sports news unit on the Six One News.
Over his sports broadcasting career, he covered a large number of national and international events, including the Cheltenham Festival since 1990 and the Olympics and Paralympics in Sydney, Athens, and Beijing.
Best associated with Horse Racing, such was his contribution to the sport that he was honoured with an industry award by Horse Racing Ireland in 2010 for “his engaging and eloquent reports, illuminating the sport in a constantly positive and entertaining manner”.