As an Irish person, this is what Terry Wogan meant to me

He inspired a new generation of Irish people like me to follow my dreams, emigrate to Britain and forge my way into broadcasting

Ciara Riordan
Sunday 31 January 2016 16:53 GMT

I got to meet Terry twice. The first time was when I was a broadcast journalist with BBC World News in London. I had a very brief encounter in the lift (of all places) in BBC's New Broadcasting house in 2014.

The elevator was full but I got very excited and blurted out in front of everyone that I was Irish and so was he! I'm sure he could have guessed that but he laughed and we had a little chat about our shared nationality and he told me he was in the building to prepare for Children in Need. The lift stopped at his level, he had to leave and I was so disappointed that I didn't get a photo with him to show that I had met one of my broadcasting idols.

Fortunately, I got the opportunity to rectify the photo situation when last year he appeared on BBC Breakfast where I now work. After his interview, I felt the same butterflies in my stomach and went up to him. I couldn't help myself and felt the urge, again, to tell him I was Irish...from Cork....Cork near Limerick where he was from! He immediately laughed and said "I won't hold that against you!” We had a lovely chat. He was genuinely interested in what an Irish journalist from Cork was doing in the BBC, asking me questions about how I was getting on living in the UK , like a relative would, and then we had our photo taken.

He will be missed by people in the UK, by people in Ireland and also by the Irish who made the journey over to Britain. He was an inspiration to so many who left Ireland when times were tough and proved that if he could make his way, so could they.

And he didn't stop there, he inspired a new generation of Irish people like me to follow my dreams, emigrate to Britain and forge my way into broadcasting.

He was proud to be Irish and never hid that fact. His soft accent was charming, he didn't feel a need to change it and he was accepted for who he was here.

The Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny has been leading tributes and has said that Terry Wogan acted as a bridge between Ireland and Britain. His warm dry wit, his use of phrasing and his genuine friendliness, all traits of what it means to be Irish, made us feel special.

I'm not sure he knew what an effect he had on the Irish diaspora in the UK but speaking from one Irish person who he had a huge impact on, he made me feel proud to be Irish. And we were proud of him. An Irish broadcasting giant. A "leg-end" - as he would say.

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