Tributes pour in for Irish journalist and LGBTQ+ ally Charlie Bird who passed away

Charlie Bird is remembered as one of RTÉ’s most renowned correspondents and "a great ally to the LGBTQ+ community".

Former journalist Charlie Bird, looking at the camera while sitting in nature.
Image: Via X - @IMNDA

Former RTÉ journalist and fierce LGBTQ+ ally Charlie Bird has passed away aged 74 following a long battle with motor neurone disease. Tributes are pouring in from all over Ireland as people remember Bird’s activist spirit and his incredible work.

Charlie Bird is remembered as one of RTÉ’s most renowned correspondents, having joined the broadcaster in 1972 as a researcher before moving to the newsroom. He went on to report on some of the biggest stories in Ireland and internationally throughout his 40-year career, including the Stardust fire, the National Irish Bank tax avoidance scandal, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks to name a few.

He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2021 and spoke publicly about his illness to raise awareness. In April 2022, as part of the “Climb with Charlie” campaign, which Bird launched by making a personal pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick, thousands of people climbed peaks all over Ireland and abroad. The campaign raised €3.4 million, which was donated to a number of charities, including the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and suicide prevention organisation Pieta House.

Charlie Bird was also a fierce LGBTQ+ ally, having campaigned for marriage equality in 2015. He was also the author of A Day in May, a powerful collection of personal interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community and their family and friends recorded during the marriage equality referendum. The book was later adapted into a play by Colin Murphy.

In an interview with The Irish Times in 2022, he spoke about the book, saying, “I knew people in RTÉ who were gay or lesbian going back many, many years and I have put my arm around those people. One person I knew very well died of Aids.”

He continued saying that he wished “we collectively could have been more supportive (of LGBTQ+ people). So when I had left RTÉ and was asked by (former presidential adviser) Bride Rosney if I would be the MC of the press conference of the Yes for Marriage Equality campaign, I didn’t hesitate.” He shared that working on the book was “one thing I am very proud of.”

He added that he wished his friends from the LGBTQ+ community would speak at his funeral “and place a Pride flag on my coffin”.



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Un post condiviso da Dublin Pride (@dublinpride)

Following the news of his passing, tributes have started to pour in on social media from people who remember Charlie and his tireless work.

In an Instagram post, Dublin Pride wrote: “We were saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Charlie Bird. Charlie was a great ally to the LGBTQ+ community, a dear friend of Dublin Pride and we worked closely together on different events over the years. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and everyone who knew him or who was inspired by his life and work.”


President Michael D. Higgins released a statement in memory of the former journalist, writing: “It is with the deepest sadness that all of the Irish people, and particularly all of those who were his allies in campaigning for so many significant causes, will have learnt of the death of Charlie Bird. An exceptionally talented broadcaster, Charlie was a truly remarkable man driven by a deep sense of social justice in the most positive sense.”

He continued, “As President of Ireland, may I express my deepest condolences to (his wife) Claire, to Charlie’s daughters Orla and Nessa, and to all his family, colleagues and many many friends. Síocháin síoraí dá anam lách uasal.”


Tánaiste Micheál Martin also remembered Charlie for his incredible career, sharing: “Charlie always had the public interest at heart. He represented public service broadcasting in Ireland at its very best. Over the past few years, Charlie captured the public imagination, nurturing a true spirit of solidarity through his Croagh Patrick ‘Climb With Charlie’.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 Today, singer Daniel O’Donnell, who was friends with Charlie, said: “It’s a shock. I just can’t believe that he’s gone, albeit we knew that this day would come. When Charlie reached the top of Croagh Patrick, it was one of the most emotional experiences that I ever had in my life. His strength was just inspirational.”

He added, “He deserves his rest. Of course, I am sad that he’s gone. But I’m happy that he doesn’t have to struggle or suffer anymore. He has done everything that man could do.”


RTÉ’s Samantha Libreri also paid tribute to Charlie, remembering him as her “mentor and friend.” She added: “I learned so much from Charlie Bird and was so lucky to have his support and friendship. I’ve never met anyone with his passion, energy and excitement for a story.

“I’ll miss him so much but carry his words and wisdom with me every day that I do my job.”


Rest in power, Charlie Bird.

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