Harry Castles, one of the first voices to be heard on Downtown Radio, has passed away in Spain following a short illness.
The popular broadcast journalist from Lurgan started with Downtown Radio in 1976 when the station launched, presenting a Saturday sports show.
Mr Castles continued to present the station’s prominent phone-in show up until his retirement in 2006.
The former head of news at Downtown and C
ool FM had moved to Spain with his wife Liz following his retirement and it was there the 67-year-old passed away, after a short illness, with his family by his bedside.
He’ll be dearly missed by his wife Liz, his children Darren and Julie, grandson Conor and his wide circle of family and friends in which he was held in huge esteem.
His nephew Stuart Castles said: “Harry was the head of our family, my friend, confidant, boating partner, wonderful story teller and I’m proud to have had him as my uncle.”
Mr Castles was a fun-loving and generous man who gave many budding journalists the chance to cut their teeth.
Tributes to Harry were led by former Downtown/Cool FM managing director David Sloan. He said: “A lot of journalists out there started off with Harry and got advice from him.
“When he retired from Downtown he went off to Spain – he got a few good years but then his health started to fail and unfortunately in the last couple of weeks he deteriorated quite quickly and sadly he passed away in the early hours of this morning.”
In the serious business of journalism Mr Castles always had time for a laugh.
Mr Sloan added: “Journalism is a serious business but Harry would always see the funny side of it and there was always a joke to be told, or a mishap, or something that went wrong.
“He was a really good broadcaster. With his easy, relaxed style of broadcasting he made everyone feel as if they were listening to a friend.”
Many journalists and former staff at Downtown/Cool FM also took to social media to express their sorrow at his passing.
David Blevins, Sky News correspondent for Ireland, said on Twitter: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Harry Castles, former Head of News @newsondowntown. A real journalist and a real gentleman. #Mentor”
BBC NI’s Barra Best commented on Twitter: “Sorry to hear this news. Harry gave me my first opportunity at journalism at @officialcoolfm 10 years ago. #RIP”.