Raidió na Gaeltachta presenter Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí dies, aged 53

Charlotte McLaughlin, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta presenter Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí has died at the age of 53, the broadcaster has announced.

The host of afternoon radio show, Ronan Beo, died at his home in Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal, on Tuesday following a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2019.

In the early 1990s, Mac Aodha Bhuí began his career on RnaG, before going on to host his on show and win various awards for presenting.

Kevin Bakhurst, director general of RTÉ, said he was “deeply saddened” before adding: “He was a passionate torch-bearer for Irish-language broadcasting, a radio pioneer whose flair for invention and innovation will influence broadcasters in any language for years to come.

Ronan Mac Aodha Bhui (RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta/PA)
Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí (RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta/PA)

“His death is a great loss to his family and friends, his colleagues across the organisation, and Irish-language broadcasting in general.  May he rest in peace.”

Born in Cork, Mac Aodha Bhuí moved when he was three months old to the Gaeltacht community of Gaoth Dobhair, where he spent most of his life.

After beginning on pirate radio stations in Dublin and Donegal and broadcasting in the 1980s, he worked on Century Radio and RTÉ Irish language programmes.

He then worked as presenter of their afternoon show Cois Life for three years and also spent time at news show Barrscealta and music series Cúl an Tí and Geill Slí.

He played RnaG’s first song with English-language lyrics in 2005 after listeners chose Blister In The Sun by The Violent Femmes.

Aodh Máirtín Ó Fearraigh, RTÉ RnaG regional manager in Donegal, said: “Rónán was a superb broadcaster. He was inquisitive, empathetic, clever, unafraid and daring. He was unequalled and he’ll be greatly missed.

“I would like to extend my condolences to his wife Bernie, his daughter Fionnuala, his brother Cian, a former colleague, and all his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”

Since 2006, Ronan Beo has featured interviews to live music, entertainment, health segments, cookery, news stories, and comedy sketches and has broadcast live from Irish-language festival An tOireachtas.

He won radio personality of the year at the Oireachtas Festival for three years between 2009, 2010 and 2016 along with winning radio show of the year at the event.

Mac Aodha Bhuí was also named radio personality of the year at the Celtic Media Festival and his show received radio series of the year at the PPI Radio Awards.

Both Irish-language organisation Glór na nGael and social and cultural body Conradh na Gaeilge presented him with special awards for his work for the Irish language.

Gearóid Mac Donncha, who leads RnaG, said: “It’s difficult to put into words the influence that Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí had on his community, and the love and esteem in which he was held.

“That community is wide and varied and includes people in the Gaeltacht and Irish-language communities, musicians, artists, writers, farmers, fishermen, doctors, solicitors, young and old, at home and abroad, and all will be deeply-saddened today at the news of his death.”

In 2014, he acted as an MC for a protest march demanding Irish-language rights by Northern Irish campaign group, An Dream Dearg.

Mac Aodha Bhuí is survived by his wife Bernie, his daughter Fionnuala, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends.

RTÉ RnaG will broadcast three special programmes in his memory this week.