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Gaybo reveals secret struggle: I'm going deaf

BROADCASTER Gay Byrne has revealed that his hearing is fading and he is likely to go deaf.

The former Late Late Show host has spoken for the first time about a private battle to save his hearing.

"My left ear is very dodgy and my right ear is going the same way," he said.

"I find it quite difficult to hear in a crowded room and I will need to cup my ear to hear what somebody is saying."

Gaybo (77) made the revelation after the launch of the Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards in association with the Irish Deaf Society.

"I have to do something about it fairly soon," he said.

"I suppose I could blame 50 years of radio broadcasting and wearing earphones and all of that, but I don't think that's the reason.

"I think it's probably genetic because my mother had hearing difficulties, my sister had hearing difficulties from an early age and then my three brothers, who are all dead, had hearing difficulties. So that's the way it is, it comes with age."

Despite retiring from the Late Late Show over a decade ago, Gaybo remains active as head of the Road Safety Authority.

He also continues to present a radio programme on RTE's Lyric FM once a week and was at one point feted as a potential future President.

While revealing his hearing difficulties, Mr Byrne said that he is just one of "thousands of people" suffering from hearing loss.

"I am told that the incidences of deafness are growing because our population is older and we are surrounded by more loud sounds."

However, Mr Byrne said he was heartened by the stories of the award winners. "They just did not allow this disability to stand in their way.

"Through all the years I've learned one thing and that is the value of quiet persistence. If you just keep plugging away, you have a dream, you work towards it and it will work in the end," he added.

kdoyle@herald.ie