Brian Farrell (broadcaster)

Brian Farrell
Bernard Brendan Farrell

(1929-01-09)9 January 1929
Manchester, England
Died 10 November 2014(2014-11-10) (aged 85)
Dublin, Ireland
Education University College Dublin,
Harvard University
Years active 1957–2004
Spouse(s) Marie-Thérèse Dillon
Children 7

Bernard Brendan "Brian" Farrell[1] (9 January 1929 – 10 November 2014[2][3][4]) was an Irish author, journalist, academic and broadcaster.[5][6][7][8][9][10] He presented programmes such as Today Tonight, and Prime Time on RTÉ.[11][12][13]

Early life

Born in Manchester, England to Irish parents, Farrell moved to Dublin, Ireland during the Second World War.[citation needed] He was educated at Coláiste Mhuire, Dublin; University College Dublin and Harvard University.[citation needed] He married Marie-Thérèse Dillon in April 1955 while attending Harvard.[citation needed]


He is survived by his wife Marie-Therese and seven children, Naomi, Bernard, Miriam, David, Rachel, Theo and Brian. Two of his sons followed him into academia: David Farrell is Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin,[14] and Theo Farrell is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor(Education) at the University of Wollongong.[15] Brian Farrell's wife, Marie-Thérèse, is the daughter of Dr. Theo Dillon, one of the sons of John Dillon the Irish nationalist politician. Her uncle was James Dillon, the Leader of the Fine Gael party from 1959 to 1965.[16]

Academic career

In 1955 he joined the administrative staff of University College Dublin became director of extramural studies and in 1957 assistant to the registrar. In 1966, he began lecturing in the Department of Ethics and Politics there and went on to become senior lecturer in politics. In the early 1980s, having run the Department of Ethics and Politics for a number of years since the death of the departmental head, Professor Rev Conor Martin, Farrell was controversially denied the post of department head and professor. The post instead was given to Professor John H. Whyte of Queen's University Belfast (QUB). In 1985 in compensation he was made Associate Professor of Politics, where he became the senior lecturer in Irish government. He retired from academia in the mid 1990s.[17]

He wrote a number of books on Irish political history, including Chairman or Chief (regarding the office of the Taoiseach), The Founding of Dáil Éireann and a biography of Seán Lemass.

Broadcasting career

Farrell also had a successful career as a media commentator.[18] He wrote articles for The Irish Press and the Irish Independent. During the 1950s he worked with Radio Éireann[19] and in 1962 he joined the newly established Irish television station, Telefís Éireann. He presented RTÉ's main programmed of comment and analysis - Broadsheet, Newsbeat, 7 Days, The Politics Programme, Frontline, Today Tonight, Farrell and Prime Time - into the new millennium. He also continued to work on radio from time to time until his retirement in 2004.[20]

Farrell covered major events at home and abroad, starting with the visit of the American President John F. Kennedy to Ireland in 1963.

He presented the results programmed for ten Irish general elections. He interviewed several US Presidents, including this interview with Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Farrell was honored twice by the national press TV critics for his work in RTÉ current affairs programming. He received his first Jacob's Award in 1968 for his presentation of 7 Days. His second was awarded for his central role in RTÉ's coverage of the 1977 general election results.[21]

In December 2000, he presented an Irish historical program 100 Years, a retrospective of events in Ireland over the 20th century.

In 2004 he presented a documentary Lights, Camera, Farrell!, that looks back at the election archives from television, highlighting some of the great moments from programmed and campaigns in Ireland.[citation needed]


On 10 November 2014, Farrell died after a long battle with Parkinson's disease at the age of 85, he was surrounded by his family.[22]

President Michael D Higgins described Farrell as "an outstanding broadcaster and political commentator" who "set the standard for others to follow".[11]

Prime Time presenter Miriam O'Callaghan said "Brian had a vast knowledge of Irish politics and history.[23] He could reference events that happened 100 years ago as clearly if they had happened last week. But he never showed it off or flaunted it." Ms O'Callaghan went on to say that Farrell had the ability to "destroy and fillet politicians - but in the nicest possible way. There was no ego with Brian and that's very unusual in our industry. He was a true gentleman and one of the good guys".[24]

Tánaiste Joan Burton said he was "a formidable interviewer for politicians to have to face".[13]

RTÉ's Director General Noel Curran described Farrell as "a fantastic colleague. Wise, witty and supportive".[11]

His Funeral Mass was held at 10.30am on Friday 14 November 2014 in the Church of the Holy Cross, Dundrum followed by cremation at Mt. Jerome, Harold's Cross.[25]


  • Chairman or Chief? (Studies in Irish Political Culture), (1971), ISBN 0-7171-0535-0, Editor.[26][27]
  • Founding of Dáil Éireann, (1971), ISBN 0-7171-0536-9.[28]
  • Seán Lemass, (1983), ISBN 0-7171-1074-5.[29]
  • Communications and Community in Ireland, (1984), ISBN 0-85342-727-5.[30]
  • Consensus in Ireland: Approaches and Recessions, (1988), ISBN 0-19-827545-5,[31] Foreword.
  • Child Poverty in Ireland, (2000), ISBN 1-86076-183-6.[32]

See also


  1. ^ "Brian Farrell ·". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  2. ^ Collins, Stephen. "Former RTÉ presenter Brian Farrell dies aged 85". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Former RTÉ broadcaster Brian Farrell dies". 10 November 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Renowned ex-RTÉ broadcaster has died". 10 November 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Broadcaster was 'definition of kindness' - colleagues pay tribute to Brian Farrell". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Rich life of Brian Farrell celebrated". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  7. ^ O'Connell, Hugh. "'A pioneering political broadcaster': Former RTÉ broadcaster Brian Farrell has died". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  8. ^ News, Clare FM-; Limited, Dreamglade (10 November 2014). "Rormer RTÉ Presenter Brian Farrell has Died". Clare FM. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Colleague Brian Farrell - Funeral Arrangements." Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  10. ^ Bardon, Sarah (10 November 2014). "Tributes flood in for veteran RTE broadcaster Brian Farrell who has passed away aged 85". irishmirror. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b c "Former RTÉ presenter Brian Farrell dies aged 85". The Irish Times. 10 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Former RTÉ broadcaster Brian Farrell has died at 85". Irish Independent. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  13. ^ a b "'A pioneering political broadcaster': Former RTÉ broadcaster Brian Farrell has died". The Journal. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Jesuit's role in Brian Farrell's life revealed". 15 November 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Brian Farrell book prize". PSAI. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Tributes paid to 'master interrogator' and 'true gentleman' Brian Farrell". 11 November 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Tributes paid to former RTÉ Radio presenter Brian Farrell". RadioToday. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Brian Farrell Broadcaster". World News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  21. ^ Newstalk. "RTÉ broadcaster Brian Farrell dies aged 85". Newstalk. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  22. ^ tippfmnews; Limited, Dreamglade (10 November 2014). "Former RTE presenter Brian Farrell has died". Tipp FM. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  23. ^ "RTÉ's Brian Farrell dies aged 85". Breaking News. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Broadcaster was 'definition of kindness' - colleagues pay tribute to Brian Farrell". Irish Independent. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  25. ^ "Brian Farrell · The42". The42. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  26. ^ Farrell, Brian, 1929- (5 May 1971). Chairman or Chief? The role of Taoiseach in Irish Government. [Dublin]: Gill and MacMillan. ISBN 0717105350. OCLC 752961.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ Farrell, Brian (1959–1995). "Brian Farrell Papers". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  28. ^ Farrell, Brian, 1929- (25 May 1971). The founding of Dáil Éireann; Parliament and nation building. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 0717105369. OCLC 582805.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Farrell, Brian, 1929- (1983). Seán Lemass. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 0717110745. OCLC 10380463.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ Communications and community in Ireland. Farrell, Brian, 1929-. Dublin: Published in collaboration with Radio Telefís Èireann by the Mercier Press. 1984. ISBN 0853427275. OCLC 14167687.CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ Consensus in Ireland : approaches and recessions. Townshend, Charles. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1988. ISBN 0198275455. OCLC 17841901.CS1 maint: others (link)
  32. ^ Nolan, Brian, 1953- (2000). Child poverty in Ireland. Combat Poverty Agency. Dublin: Oak Tree. ISBN 1860761836. OCLC 46620472.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

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