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Stars that died 2010

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cathal O'Shannon, Irish journalist and television presenter, died he was 83.

Shannon interviewing Muhammad Ali
Cathal O'Shannon[1] was an Irish journalist and television presenter. He was a former journalist with The Irish Times newspaper and a former TV reporter and presenter for RTÉ.[2] He was probably best known for presenting documentaries on Irish history, produced mainly for Irish television viewers and broadcast by RTÉ.
On 12 January 2007, after producing his most recent documentary, he stated that he had fully retired.[1] In a 2008 television documentary he "outed himself as a serial womaniser who cheated repeatedly on his wife".[3] He was awarded lifetime membership of the Irish Film & Television Academy in 2010 when he said it was "particularly gratifying that it occurs before I pop my clogs".[4] He died the following year.

(1928 – 22 October 2011)

Early life and private life

O'Shannon grew up in Dublin, the son of Cathal O'Shannon (Sr.), an Irish socialist and republican.
As a 16-year old he joined the RAF in Belfast near the end of the Second World War and travelled to Burma,[5] when he was aged sixteen.[6] He was stationed in Burma,[2] operating as a rear gunner on Lancaster bombers, but saw little action.
His wife, Patsy, whom he met while working for The Irish Times in London, died in 2006. They had been married for more than 50 years.

Media career

O'Shannon first became a journalist with The Irish Times in 1947. Later he joined RTÉ. In 1972 O' Shannon recorded one of his best remembered journalistic coups - interviewing Muhammad Ali, the famous boxer, for Irish television.[7][8][9] He made a 1976 documentary film, Even the Olives are Bleeding, on the involvement of Irish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War.
In January 2007, his documentary, Hidden History: Ireland's Nazis, was broadcast by RTÉ as a two-part series. It explored how a small number of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators from Occupied Europe went to live in the Republic of Ireland after the Second World War[5]— the best known of whom was Otto Skorzeny, who lived for a period in County Kildare. Others included such Breton nationalists as Alan Heusaff, Yann Fouéré and Yann Goulet, as well as two Belgians, Albert Folens and Albert Luykx.[10]

Public relations career

In 1978, he left RTÉ to join Canadian company Alcan which was setting up an aluminium plant at Aughinish, County Limerick Ireland in 1978. He was head-hunted to become the director of public affairs, an important post at a time when there were environmental concerns about the effects of aluminium production.
He admitted frankly that he was attracted by the salary, “five times what RTÉ were paying me”. But he also indicated that he had become unhappy with RTÉ and said in an interview that: “The real reason I got out of RTÉ was that they wouldn’t let me do what I wanted.” He had submitted plans for a series on the Civil War and also on the wartime Emergency period.
While he enjoyed the social life with lavish expenses which his public relations duties involved, his friends believed that he missed the varied life and travel of journalism. He retired early from Aughinish in 1992 but returned to making some memorable television documentaries with RTÉ.[11]


O'Shannon died on 22 October 2011, aged 83.[12][13][14][15][16]
Director-General of RTÉ Noel Curran said O'Shannon had brought into being "some of the great moments in the RTÉ documentary and factual schedule over the past five decades."[17] His funeral took place at Glasnevin Crematorium Chapel on 26 October 2011.[18]
In tribute, RTÉ One showed the documentary Cathal O'Shannon: Telling Tales on 10 November 2011. It had originally aired in 2008 to mark his 80th birthday.[19]

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