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Thursday 8 December 2016

Tributes as veteran TV presenter Derek Davis (67) dies after a short illness

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Veteran broadcaster Derek Davis has died after a short illness.

Mr Davis (67) was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital last night. It's understood that the former Live at Three host suffered a stroke at the weekend and died this morning.

Last Sunday, Mr Davis, a well known RTE broadcaster, appeared on the Marian Finucane show where he spoke about his battle to lose weight and health issues.

His death was announced at noon today leaving many fans and former colleagues stunned.

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Shortly after midday, RTE played Johnny Cash's song, Folsome Prison Blues, in tribute as to Davis who regularly sang the song at social occasions.

The married father-of-three was hugely popular among radio and TV audiences, and presented popular daytime programme Live At Three in the 90s alongside Thelma Mansfield.

Mr Davis had worked for American network ABC and BBC Northern Ireland before moving to RTE.

He presented the Rose of Tralee on two occasions. In 1984, he introduced US President Ronald Reagan to a massive reception in Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary.

He suffered health problems in recent years but was always open and forthright on the subject.

Last year he underwent gastric surgery, after which he lost five stone.

He spoke about his weight battle in an interview with the Sunday Independent just last weekend.

"I became a granddad. He was born at two pounds and when he survived, I thought 'Someone needs to teach this boy the important things in life, like picking a decent bottle of wine and casting a fly'.

"It was really his coming into this world that made me want to cling on a bit longer. I reckon I had about two years to go," he said.

RTE producer Larry Masterson, who produces The Saturday Night Show, said Derek's passing was desperately sad news.

"I worked with Derek on a number of programmes over the years.

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"We had planned on having him back on the show this weekend to talk about his weight loss. We got a fantastic response the last time he was on the show," Mr Masterson said.

"He was a television colossus; people loved watching him. People really genuinely had a great gra for him.

"He suffered a stroke and was taken to Vincents' and sadly passed away this morning," he said.

"He was a great raconteur a great storyteller, he had it all, he was terrific.

"He was conscious all his life that he was carrying weight, from the first time I met him 30 years ago.

"He had a weight issue, it in many ways defined his personality. He was always the funny man - get in first with a joke before someone said something cruel.

"He was deeply sensitive that he did have that weight issue. It defined him to a large extent sadly," Mr Masterson said.

Derek's former RTE colleague Pat Kenny today said: "I saw a photo of him recently he looked fantastic after his weight loss. We shall sadly not see his like again."

Former RTE sports broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy also paid tribute to Derek.

"I didn't know him very well, but I thought he was an extremely good presenter and an excellent serious newsreader," he told the Herald.

"I know that he was a most enthusiastic person. I just saw a picture of him on the paper at the weekend and he looked very thin I thought."

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