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When I saw Terry Wogan on Thursday he was quite ill and I knew it wasn't long, says old pal Fr Brian D'Arcy

By Brian Hutton

Published 01/02/2016

Great friend: Fr Brian D’Arcy
Great friend: Fr Brian D’Arcy

God is "way off" if self-declared atheist Sir Terry Wogan does not have a place in heaven, his friend Father Brian D'Arcy has said.

In an emotional tribute, the Fermanagh priest said he spent a "family day" with the broadcaster on Thursday and the pair, who worked together for decades, said their final goodbyes.

"He was quite ill at that stage and I knew it wasn't long," the priest said.

"We prepared for the worst, and thank God Terry got out of his suffering."

Fr D'Arcy, a regular contributor to Wake Up To Wogan for 20 years, was a friend for more than four decades and officiated at the weddings of Sir Terry's children.

Despite the late broadcaster's professed atheism, the priest said he was "certainly the most spiritual, faith-filled man in the world".

"He was filled with love, he was filled with charity, he helped so many people in a quiet way," he said.

"Honest to God, if there is not room for Terry Wogan in heaven, well then, the God I've been preaching is a way off.

"He put it into practice, whether he could agree with religious institutions or not is an entirely different thing. But he had certainly a great deal of faith."

Sir Terry spoke in recent years about not believing in God, saying that he had privately railed against faith after the death of his three-week-old firstborn daughter.

Sir Terry Wogan as he announced he was stepping down from his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, he told listeners of the long-running and much-loved Wake Up to Wogan' that he would be stepping down at the end of the year to be replaced by Chris Evans.
Sir Terry Wogan as he announced he was stepping down from his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, he told listeners of the long-running and much-loved Wake Up to Wogan' that he would be stepping down at the end of the year to be replaced by Chris Evans.
Sir Terry Wogan (second left on middle row) in 1967 with fellow disc jockeys ahead of the launch of the BBC's new Radio 1 and Radio 2 networks at Broadcasting House, London
Wogan presenting Blankety Blank in 1979
Sir Terry Wogan and his wife Helen with their baby daughter Katherine at three weeks old in 1972
Sir Terry Wogan in 1973 sampling an oyster at a reception to celebrate the opening of the oyster season at Scott's restaurant in London
Larry Hagman (left) with Sir Terry Wogan during his Radio 2 Breakfast Show in 1980
Sir Terry Wogan in 1981 with Diana Ross when she was a guest on his early morning BBC Radio 2 programme
Sir Terry Wogan (back) with Britain's entry into the Eurovision Song Contest Bardo (centre left and right), and members of pop group Bucks Fizz in 1982
Security men pretending to frogmarch Sir Terry Wogan from Broadcasting House in London as a humourous finale to his 12 years hosting the early morning BBC 2 radio breakfast programme in 1984.
Sir Terry Wogan popping up through a TV screen to the amusement of a policeman after he accepted 100 TV sets on behalf of the NSPCC from Phillips marking the making of the company's 100 millionth TV set (1984)
Sir Terry Wogan (centre) with his chatshow guests Tina Turner and Elton John in 1985
Sir Terry Wogan trying on a kilt before hitting the high road to the BBC pro-celebrity golf tournament at Turnberry, Scotland in 1985
Duke of Edinburgh (left) appearing with Sir Terry Wogan on the 'Wogan' chatshow in 1986
The interview on September 19, 1990 when Belfast footballer George Best appeared drunk as a guest on 'WOGAN'
Sir Terry Wogan (right) revealing his waxwork on his television show 'Wogan'
BBC's Ken Bruce (left) and Sir Terry Wogan enjoying an extra hour in bed before presenting their radio programmes from Millstreet, Ireland, the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993
Sir Terry Wogan meeting Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997
Sir Terry Wogan and his daughter Katherine at the Savoy Hotel in London, in 2001
Sir Terry Wogan with his wife Lady Helen, after the radio and television presenter collected his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2005
Sir Terry Wogan celebrating being given the Freedom of the City of London by single-handedly raising Tower Bridge
Sir Terry Wogan with fellow Eurovision host Natasha Kaplinsky (left) and winner Javine in 2005
Sir Terry Wogan with Pudsey the bear during a Children in Need photo call in 2008
Sir Terry Wogan meeting the Prince of Wales (left) at the Irish Embassy in London, in 2010
Sir Terry Wogan with a life-size cake replica made to mark the 30th anniversary of his presenting BBC Children in Need in 2009
Sir Terry Wogan (right), winner of 'Digital Radio Personality of the Year', with Chris Evans at the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries Club) Annual Awards, in 2010
Sir Terry Wogan with (left to right) Tess Daly, Alesha Dixon and Fearne Cotton during the BBC Children In Need Appeal 2011
Terry Wogan presents BBC One's in 2011
Sir Terry Wogan with a collection of Pudsey Bears designed by celebrities which were auctioned for Children in Need in 2013
Terry Wogan launching Children In Need on November 1, 2015 at the Landmark Hotel in London

Fr D'Arcy said that Sir Terry's family had always been the centre of his life.

"Lady Helen was the love of his life," he added.

"If you go into Terry Wogan's house you won't see a picture of any star - you'll see pictures of his children and grandchildren festooned around the walls.

"You'll also see a picture of the certificate he got for the Freedom of Limerick."

Fr D'Arcy regularly linked up with Sir Terry live on air from his monastery in Co Fermanagh as part of his breakfast radio show's Pause for Thought segment.

The presenter used to joke that Fr D'Arcy wouldn't get out of bed to join him.

"We used to have great banters," said the Passionist priest.

"I'm sure half the 10m that were listening to us hadn't a clue what we were talking about, because he would break into Irish, break into Latin, he would break into all sorts of funny things along the way.

"It was just a joy to work with him."

Fr D'Arcy also spoke about death threats against Sir Terry during the Troubles.

"He had to work through a terrible time as an Irish voice when terrible things were happening in the name of Irish people," Fr D'Arcy said.

"He got threats from various organisations. He lived through it all, he kept quiet."

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