Pat Kenny

Patrick Kenny (born 29 January 1948) is a veteran Irish broadcaster, who currently hosts the daily radio show The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk and the current affairs show Pat Kenny Tonight on Virgin Media One.

Pat Kenny
Kenny in 2011
Patrick Kenny

(1948-01-29) 29 January 1948
EducationO'Connell School
University College Dublin,
Georgia Institute of Technology
Known forToday Tonight
Kenny Live
The Late Late Show
Today with Pat Kenny
The Frontline
The Pat Kenny Show
Pat Kenny Tonight
Eurovision Song Contest 1988
WebsiteThe Pat Kenny Show

Prior to this, Kenny had a 41 year high-profile career at RTÉ, in which he was their highest paid presenter for several years. He presented radio show Today with Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1 each weekday morning between 10:00 and midday until 2013. He hosted The Late Late Show from September 1999 until May 2009, however returned as a stand-in host in January 2013.[1][2][3] He presented the current affairs programme, The Frontline,[4] each Monday night from 2009 until its axing in 2013.

He was the co-host of Eurovision Song Contest 1988, as well as numerous other television shows, including Today Tonight, Saturday Live and Kenny Live, and has worked for both RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2fm, sometimes simultaneously, in a career that has spanned five decades. He is the holder of a Jacob's Award and was perennially cited as the highest paid employee at RTÉ. He was named 23rd most influential person of 2009 by the magazine Village.[5]

Early career

Kenny was educated at the O'Connell School[6] and obtained a chemical engineering degree from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1969, Subsequently, he was a postgraduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology and then a lecturer in Bolton Street College of Technology in Dublin.[7] He began his broadcasting career in parallel to his academic "day-job" by working as a continuity announcer on RTÉ radio in the mid-1970s. He subsequently became a radio disc jockey.

In 1986, Kenny won a Jacob's Award for his "unusual versatility" in presenting three diverse radio shows: Saturday View on RTÉ Radio 1, and, on RTÉ 2fm, The Kenny Report and The Outside Track.[8]

Television career

Today Tonight, Eurovision, The Pat Kenny Show, Saturday Live, Kenny Live!

Kenny became a television broadcaster on RTÉ's Today Tonight, a current affairs programme in the mid-1980s. He moved in an unexpected direction for a current affairs presenter when he filled the role of co-presenter of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. This he did alongside Michelle Rocca at the Royal Dublin Society's Simmonscourt Pavilion. Kenny continued to be associated with Eurovision, providing television commentary for Irish viewers of the event on nine occasions from 1991 to 1999. He was criticised for referring on-air to the transsexual Israeli singer Dana International as "he, she or it" during the 1998 edition of the contest and later refused to apologise for the remark.[9]

He presented The Pat Kenny Show. Subsequently, he had a guest slot on the weekly chat show Saturday Live. He went on to host the show permanently and its title was changed to Kenny Live!. There was a much publicised rivalry between Kenny Live!, broadcast on Saturday nights and The Late Late Show, broadcast on Friday nights. Saturday Live, latterly Kenny Live!, had been conceived as preserving the weekend slot on a Saturday night to prevent loss of viewers and corresponding loss of advertising revenue.

The Late Late Show (1999–2009)

Gay Byrne retired from presenting The Late Late Show in 1999. Kenny was announced as Byrne's replacement on 24 May 1999.[10] He was in Israel for the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest when the announcement was made that he was taking over at the age of 51.[11] Kenny became the new host, but not without criticism of his style during his tenure; Sunday Independent columnist Eilis O'Hanlon expressed this sentiment in 2006, writing:

"In the same way that Gay Byrne's Late Late can now be seen, looking back, as a reflection of the man's character, then Pat's Late Late is a reflection of his. And that's the problem. The switches from light to dark and back again are now handled too clunkily to convince; the exaggerated mateyness with the audience is cringemaking, making Pat look like the class geek who's too desperate to be seen as one of the lads. At the same time, he can never quite let go of that urge in him that we know how smart he is."[12]

Among the highlights of Kenny's career in presenting The Late Late Show was his Toy Show interview with comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld remained tight-lipped, even as Pat Kenny referred to him as Jerry Sein-field.[13] Kenny also came under fire after an interview on The Late Late Show with Babyshambles' lead singer Pete Doherty. Kenny repeatedly questioned Doherty over his much talked about drug habits, with Doherty appearing visibly uncomfortable. Doherty, obviously annoyed, stated that Kenny had asked him "about 12" questions about drugs and Kate Moss, but nothing about his music; "I don't know if you could even name a song that I've written", Doherty quipped at one point. "Possibly not", Kenny replied.[14][15]

On 27 March 2009, Kenny announced that he would resign as host of The Late Late Show at the end of the season.[1] Guests on his final night included U2, who presented Kenny with a rare Gibson guitar and a pair of shades. During the final programme, which included an outside party, Kenny thanked the crew for their work during his ten-year reign as host of The Late Late Show.[16]

The Frontline and Prime Time (2009–2013)

In September 2009, Kenny began presenting The Frontline every Monday night on RTÉ One, a topical debate show revolving around the interaction between Kenny, his guests and an invited audience. On 19 July 2012, Kenny appeared as host of Prime Time, the current affairs programme which replaced Kenny's pre-Late Late Show programme, Today Tonight. The Evening Herald called this " a surprise return to a familiar slot... It was a return to his roots for Mr Kenny who made his name as a current affairs broadcaster".[17] The Frontline ended in January 2013 as Kenny became the co-host with long-time main presenter Miriam O'Callaghan of a revamped Prime Time in February 2013 until he departed RTÉ on 31 July 2013.[18]

On-air attacks and interruptions

Kenny has sustained several on-air personal attacks during his career as presenter of The Late Late Show and The Frontline. These include:

  • In November 2006, Paul Stokes, an intruder on the set of The Late Late Show, confronted Kenny live on air calling the show host and his predecessor Gay Byrne "insufferable arseholes". Eight days later Stokes rammed his car into the entrance of RTÉ's television centre and was subsequently charged with harassment after daubing walls near Kenny's home with threatening messages.[19]
  • During an interview with SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor on The Frontline on 2 November 2009, O'Connor suggested that a "reasonable level of tax" should be levied on "trophy houses". When asked to define the term "trophy house", O'Connor replied: "A house like yours, probably", to which Kenny replied, "I built my house in 1988. How is it a 'trophy house'? I don't want this crap coming at me!" O'Connor apologised a few moments later.[20]
  • During an interview with Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin on The Frontline on 9 November 2009, an audience member berated Kenny over the issue of an excessive wage. He compared Kenny's wage to that of the President of the United States for 11 hours of broadcast per working week. He alleged that Kenny had no right to pontificate about social welfare, or people who had no means. When Kenny attempted to resume, he was repeatedly interrupted by the audience member who continued to shout. The attack lasted for several minutes before a commercial break was taken.[21][22]

Departure from RTÉ

On 31 July 2013, it was announced that Kenny would not be renewing his contract with RTÉ after a 41-year presence there,[23] and would be leaving RTÉ to join radio station Newstalk to host a current affairs magazine show on weekdays from 10 am to 12.30 pm, starting on 2 September 2013.[24] It caused some surprise in RTÉ. RTÉ presenters have admitted the defection of Pat Kenny to rivals Newstalk is a "major loss" for the national broadcaster.[25] Gay Byrne described his decision as a great loss for RTÉ;[26] Miriam O'Callaghan said she has learnt greatly from Kenny; saying that he "... is an incredibly talented broadcaster and has shown all of us current affairs presenters how it is done."

Return to television

It was announced in August 2014 that Kenny would return to TV screens in 2015 on UTV Ireland with a new show titled Pat Kenny in the Round, recorded in the Round Room in the Mansion House in Dublin. However the show was axed in September 2015.[27]

In 2016, Kenny joined TV3 to host the current affairs show Pat Kenny Tonight along with Colette Fitzpatrick.[28]


Kenny has been offering support to Linda Graham, an artist with multiple sclerosis, since interviewing her on The Late Late Show. He once returned one day early from a holiday abroad in Portugal to open an exhibition at her behest.[29] Kenny co-led a two-hour cycle around Dublin in aid of suicide charity Console in 2011.[30]

Politics and Activism

Kenny supported Miriam O'Callaghan when she came under fire from Sinn Féin for challenging Martin McGuinness of his past misdeeds during the 2011 presidential election campaign in a Prime Time debate, saying "I wouldn't criticise Miriam for doing what she did".[31]

Kenny was also critical of Seán Gallagher after the presidential candidate objected to a tweet Kenny read out on The Frontline days before the 2011 election. Kenny told Gallagher to get over Tweetgate and get back to what he was "supposed to be good at"—creating jobs, and said he was "judged by the public not to be worthy."[32]

In 2018, Kenny lent his support to a Health Service Executive campaign to educate the public on harm reduction concerning cocaine. While using his radio slot to read out practical advice regarding drug use, Kenny also warned listeners that cocaine "lines the pockets of criminals", despite a perception of the drug as "party central".[33]

Kenny has spoken out against Ireland's historic censoring of Provisional IRA figures in broadcast media, describing the practice as "unsuccessful".[34]


Kenny was the highest-paid presenter on RTÉ in 2008 earning €950,956. His pay was reduced to €729,604 in 2009[35] due to the economic climate. Director-General of RTÉ Cathal Goan, commenting on the salaries paid to the top stars, said: "There's no question that by today's standard, they were excessive. I have to repeat that they were set at a different time in a different competitive reality where some of this talent might be up for poaching by other organisations and in RTÉ’s view at the time, they delivered value for money". Kenny issued the following statement: "I am satisfied that the significant reduction in the fees paid to my company takes account of current economic circumstances while also reflecting my experience over 37 years in broadcasting at RTÉ".[36] His high salary was strongly denounced on live television, while Kenny was hosting.[37] He is not technically a member of RTÉ staff but is paid through a separate company, enabling Kenny and RTÉ to reduce the amount of tax paid on his salary.[38]

Kenny has defended himself by saying he was working harder than ever, that "I've done my bit" and that he would never "put a gun to RTE's head".[29]

In March 2013, it was revealed he had earned €630,000 in 2011.[39]


In September 2012, Kenny was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by University College Dublin for "exceptional contributions to public service broadcasting." In 2016, he received a lifetime achievement award by the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA).[40]

Styles of Byrne and Kenny

Kenny's career has been extensive, having been a continuity announcer, radio disc jockey, television current affairs presenter, subsequently anchor and chat show host. His early radio career mirrored that of Byrne's. However Byrne focused always being in entertainment and never in current affairs. Byrne described himself as an entertainer first.[41]

Initially Kenny was perceived, by a critic, as being unsuited to the field of light entertainment as this description of Kenny Live! stated: "The fact is that Pat Kenny, is unsuited to the type of showbiz knockabout which Gay Byrne is so at home with.":[42]

Kenny has described his style:

"Do you want bland television where everything you hear reinforces your own view, or do you want to be challenged? I favour the latter. I like to challenge people. You might get angry and pick up the phone to Joe Duffy, or you might complain to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission; that's great. It means you're involved in the argument in some way".[43]

Due to his long association with the show, Byrne in his autobiography[44] seemed to almost have proprietarial rights, having been both producer and presenter of the show. Kenny was the subject of much media criticism for his takeover from Byrne.

In autumn 2003, The Late Late Show had a competitor in the Friday evening time slot, with the arrival of competing television chat programme, The Dunphy Show, hosted by controversial broadcaster Eamon Dunphy on RTÉ's main rival TV3. However, The Dunphy Show failed to achieve expected viewership figures and was scrapped in December 2003 after 14 episodes.[45]

In October 2011, Gay Byrne said the idea that he and Pat were competing in some sort of rivalry was "bloody rubbish".[46] John Bowman's history of RTÉ Television contains a quote from chief executive Vincent Finn from when Kenny asked for to be paid more money. "In many ways," Mr Finn told the RTÉ Authority, "he believes he is better than Gay Byrne."[47] Bowman stood by this in a radio interview on Kenny's show, saying that the revelations in which Finn said Kenny “feels very strong about the Gay Byrne thing” were contained in the RTÉ Authority archives.[48]

Personal life

Kenny is married to Kathy. She has publicly defended him against the criticism he receives over the amount of money he is paid by RTÉ.[29] They live in Dalkey, Dublin, in a house built in the early 1990s on a site purchased in 1988.[49] They have two daughters, and Kenny is also the father of another child from a previous relationship, whom he sees regularly and supports financially.[50] Kenny's family home was on Infirmary Road, Dublin. Kenny's father, Jim, died in 1982 at the age of 74. Kenny's mother, Connie, died and was buried on 23 October 2008. Kenny's mother's burial received media coverage as it led to Kenny's non-appearance on an edition of The Late Late Show that was aired that same evening.[51][52][53]

Off-screen personality

A current RTÉ employee, who has "regular dealings" with Kenny says he is "really good at what he does" and "works very hard to make both his radio show and the Late Late as good as possible." Kenny was said to be "very good at doling out praise and encouragement, particularly to younger members of staff". When he was attacked live on air in 2006, Aoife, daughter of the attacker, Paul Stokes, and by coincidence a researcher on the show at the time, was consoled by Kenny.[54]

2008 High Court case

In April 2008 Kenny and his neighbour went to court over the issue of who owned a nearby field. Kenny's case was that he had entitlement of 'Gorse Hill' through adverse possession sometimes known as squatters rights. During proceedings it was claimed that Kenny placed a lock on the field without telling his neighbour. It was also claimed that Kenny came at him with 'fists raised' and 'jostled' or fought with him. Kenny also claimed damages for his neighbour's assault on him.[55] The case was settled with Kenny buying the land for an undisclosed sum and both sides paying their own costs.

Unauthorised advertisements

In February 2019 Kenny became a high-profile victim of the fake news phenomenon when it was reported that unauthorised advertisements for erectile dysfunction cures bearing the presenter's likeness had been circulated online. Taking to his Newstalk radio show, Kenny blasted the adverts as "a scam" and advised listeners not to "buy [erectile dysfunction medication] with [Kenny's] imagined recommendation".[56][57]

See also


  1. "Pat Kenny to step down as Late Late Show host". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  2. "Pat Kenny to leave Late Late Show". RTÉ Arts. RTÉ. 27 March 2009. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  3. "Pat Kenny to return to Late Late". The 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013. Pat Kenny will make an unexpected return to the presenter's chair of the Late Late Show this Friday evening...
  4. "RTÉ Television unveils new season". RTÉ Arts. RTÉ. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  5. "Ireland's Most Influential 100, 2009". Village. 4 November 2009. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  6. "OCS History". O'Connell Primary School. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  7. Browne, Vincent (31 January 2008). "Pat Kenny at 60". Politico. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  8. "Pat Kenny wins award", The Irish Times, 3 April 1982.
  9. "Kenny unapologetic at 'it' jibe over Euro winner". Irish Independent. 10 May 2007.
  10. "Pat Kenny to take over the Late Late Show". RTÉ News. RTÉ. 24 May 1999. Retrieved 24 May 1999. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. "The Late Late Show goes on". BBC News. 24 May 1999. Retrieved 24 May 1999. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. "Sorry, Pat, but you're no Gay Byrne". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 27 August 2006.
  13. "Pat Kenny vs Jerry Seinfeld – Toy Show". Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  14. "Pete Doherty's poetry beyond Pat Kenny". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  15. "Pete Doherty meets Pat Kenny". Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  16. "Pat bids farewell to the Late Late with a little help from his friends". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 30 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
  17. Murphy, Cormac (20 July 2012). "Here is the old news ... in RTÉ team blunders". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 20 July 2012. Meanwhile, Pat Kenny has made a surprise return to a familiar slot as he hosted RTÉ's Prime Time. [...] On one famous occasion, he introduced top US comic Jerry Seinfeld onto the Late Late as Jerry 'Seinfield'.
  18. "All eyes on tonight's revamped Prime Time as O'Callaghan and Kenny to co-host first show". Irish Independent. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  19. Reid, Lorna (27 December 2006). "'Paul Stokes is still here, but Pat Kenny won't be soon'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  20. O'Keeffe, Alan (3 November 2009). "I was right to use C-word says Kenny after live TV bust-up over house taunt". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  21. "Outburst over Kenny earnings on show". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  22. "Heckler defends Frontline outburst". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  23. "Pat Kenny to leave RTÉ after 41 years". RTÉ News. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  24. "'I want a new challenge – and I hope my RTE colleagues will remain my friends' – Pat Kenny". The Independent. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  25. Colleagues admit that presenter's move 'a massive loss'
  26. It was about a change, not the cash, insists Pat
  27. "Pat Kenny's 'In the Round' show axed by UTV". The Irish Times. 7 September 2015.
  28. "TV3 launches 'Pat Kenny Tonight'". 4 October 2016.
  29. "Pat Kenny: I'm working a lot harder for a lot less now – RTÉ star insists: 'I've done my bit'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  30. "Pat Kenny leads 'life cycle' for suicide charity". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  31. Finn, Melanie (14 October 2011). "I back Miriam but won't take same line, vows Kenny". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  32. Byrne, Luke (4 September 2012). "'Get over Tweetgate and create jobs', Pat Kenny tells Sean Gallagher". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  33. "Pat Kenny pushes cocaine line to surreal limits". Irish Times. 21 July 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  34. "Pat Kenny says he's opposed to censoring people as he prepares to host Peter Casey debate". 7 May 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  35. "Pat Kenny highest paid RTÉ presenter in 2009". RTÉ News. RTÉ. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  36. Clarke, Denise (10 October 2009). "Kenny tops the RTÉ richlist". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  37. "You get €600,000 for 11 hours a week, audience member rants at Pat Kenny in show tirade". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  38. McConnell, Daniel (7 February 2010). "Tax squeeze on high-paid TV stars". Sunday Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  39. O'Connell, Hugh (27 March 2013). "RTÉ reveals stars' salaries: Ryan Tubridy was paid €723,000 in 2011, according to figures released by the State broadcaster this evening". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  40. "Pat Kenny receives Ifta award for lifetime achievement". The Irish Times. 7 October 2016.
  41. Byrne, Gay and Purcell, Deirdre. The Time of My Life: An Autobiography, Published by Gill & Macmillan (Dublin 1989). ISBN 0-7171-1615-8.
  42. "Television View (Live if not kicking)", The Irish Times, 17 October 1988. TV critic in The Irish Times, in 1988, Godfrey Fitzsimons, in his review of an edition of Kenny Live broadcast in October 1988.
  43. "To whom it concerns..." RTÉ. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  44. Byrne, Gay and Purcell, Deirdre. The Time of My Life: An Autobiography, ISBN 0-7171-1615-8.
  45. "Highs and lows of the year in media". The Sunday Business Post. Thomas Crosbie Holdings. 28 December 2003. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  46. Sweeney, Ken (17 October 2011). "Gaybo says claims of rivalry with Kenny are 'rubbish'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  47. "Mirror, mirror on the wall ..." Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  48. McGreevy, Ronan (18 October 2011). "Bowman stands by Kenny RTÉ pay story". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  49. Healy, Tim (10 April 2008). "Kennys 'have to prove they took possession of land'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  50. "Doctors Feared That She Had Had Stroke". Daily Mirror. 12 May 2002.
  51. Prone, Terry (23 October 2008). "Gerry's love of chaos may be a ratings winner for the Late Late Show stand-in". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  52. Byrne, Ciaran (23 October 2008). "Ryan takes on 'Late, Late' as Kenny mourns mother". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  53. Gittens, Geraldine (24 October 2008). "Final farewell to Pat Kenny's mother". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  54. Meagher, John (12 April 2008). "'If only the viewers could see his funny, feisty off-screen personality'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  55. Healy, Tim (9 April 2008). "'Kenny ran at me with fists raised'". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  56. "Pat Kenny used in fake ads for erectile dysfunction drugs". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 21 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  57. "Pat Kenny seeking legal advice over fake erectile dysfunction ads". Irish Examiner. Irish Examiner. 17 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
Media offices
Preceded by
Viktor Lazlo
Eurovision Song Contest co-presenter
(with Michelle Rocca)
Succeeded by
Jacques Deschenaux & Lolita Morena
Preceded by
Jimmy Greeley and Cliona Ni Bhuachalla
Eurovision Song Contest Ireland Commentator
Succeeded by
Marty Whelan
Preceded by
Gay Byrne
Host of The Late Late Show
Succeeded by
Ryan Tubridy
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