For generations of listeners to Irish radio, Larry Gogan is the avuncular voice that they warmly regard as that of a long-cherished friend. He shares memories of his outstanding broadcasting career and treasured family life, with Shea Tomkins, while also looking forward to what 2018 will bring.
The trademark smile of the effervescent Larry Gogan is beaming warmly around the bustling environs of the RTÉ canteen during the madness of a midweek morning. There are recognisable faces everywhere, but few more striking than the universally loved Larry whose sunny demeanour attracts well-wisher after well-wisher, stopping by his table to ask how he is after a few recent health issues.
The ‘Peter Pan’ of pop music on Irish airwaves immediately orders two cups of tea, and as tempting as he makes it sound, I reluctantly decline his offer of a cream bun to accompany the steaming brew.
Larry then settles back as we begin revisiting his impressive broadcasting career which stretches all the way back to the early 1960s, when the Radio Éireann studio was perched over the GPO on O’Connell Street.
He belonged to a pack of fresh-faced presenters back then who would eventually become household names – one of the most notable being his old pal, Gay Byrne. Those that enjoy listening to Larry on his weekend 2fm shows will testify that he still sounds as fresh as he did all those years ago; his upbeat voice and knowledge on contemporary bands making a mockery of the fact that he has graced our airwaves in six different decades.
“I put the youthful outlook down to my late wife, Florrie,” he says with a smile. “Even when the grandchildren came along, she refused to allow them call us ‘Granny’ or ‘Grandad’. She’d tell them, ‘I’m Florrie, and that’s Larry’.
“I remember one day little Nicki’s mammy couldn’t collect her from the crèche, and I said I’d run down and collect her. When I arrived they asked me who I was and I told them I was her grandad. Then they asked Nicki who I was and she said, ‘That’s Larry’. And then they asked her who Larry was – she had no concept of the word ‘grandad’. They were reluctant to let her out with this peculiar Larry fellow!”
Many would be envious of the environment in which Larry grew up – his family had two sweet shops, and his grandfather and great-uncles were sugar boilers, meaning they produced the aforementioned sweets themselves! He comes from a large family of six boys and two girls, though sadly two of his brothers have passed away in recent years.