Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Derek Davis (died 13 May 2015, aged 67)

Full obituary, which appeared in the Irish Times on 23 May, can be found here.

Derek Davis, who has died aged 67, had a long and distinguished career as a newsreader, reporter and presenter. The flood of tributes that swiftly followed news of his death after a short illness reflected the very high esteem in which he was held by colleagues.


RTÉ director general Noel Curran said that Davis was “a hugely popular man both with audiences and with his colleagues” and “one of the most versatile presenters RTÉ has seen”.


Derek Davis was born in Holywood, Co Down and spent much of his childhood in the resort of Bangor, where he acquired his lifelong love of boats and the sea.


His father, Frederick, was an accountant who had an art and framing shop in Belfast. His mother, Vera Algar, from Bray, Co Wicklow, worked in Bletchley Park (famous for breaking the German “Enigma” code during the Second World War) before marriage. She helped out in the family art shop and was herself a talented artist.


He attended primary school at Bangor Grammar and secondary at St MacNissi’s College (popularly known as Garron Tower), a Catholic boarding school in Carnlough, Co Antrim.


At boarding school, he “practised sarcastic wit” and later “polished the technique” at Queen’s, where he studied law and won many prizes for debating. An argument with a man who turned out to be a BBC reporter led to a suggestion that he contribute to a programme, which in turn led to an audition and to his being trained as a BBC reporter.


Davis got an opportunity in 1974 to do some work for RTÉ, on the recommendation of his friend Tom McGurk, who at the time worked there as a news reporter.


In the following year he was appointed full-time. He worked for 11 years in the newsroom, during which time he helped pioneer the presentation of the two-handed news bulletin with Anne Doyle.


He won a Jacob’s Award in 1984 for the series The Season That’s In It, and hosted his own talk show, Davis At Large. From 1986 until 1997 he co-hosted Live at Three on RTÉ 1 with Thelma Mansfield. In 1991, he won a second Jacob’s Award for his Live at Three special programme to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.


In the late 1990s, he presented four series of the marine programme Out of the Blue, in which he was able to demonstrate his love of boating and sailing and his knowledge of the waters around Ireland.


He is survived by his widow, Úna, sons Michael, Colm and Seán, and his sister Elizabeth Wellman.


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