Updated: 09/04/18 : 05:47:41
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RTÉ tributes to late Sligo colleague, Justin Nelson

By Eugene McGloin

RTÉ COLLEAGUES have paid tribute to retired senior producer  and innovator Justin Nelson.

A native of Calry, Co Sligo where his father was school principal, Nelson spent half a century working with the national broadcaster.

His cremation in Mount Jerome took place on Friday last after Mass of the Resurrection in St Brigid’s Church, Cabinteely.

The eulogy was delivered by well known RTÉ Radio One producer, Aonghus McAnally.

Most Successful

Said McAnally: “His television CV is an inspiration to us all, having worked on All Ireland finals, US Presidential visits and the 1979 Papal visit. 

“He created some of the most successful programmes RTÉ ever produced. 

“Without Justin we would have had no Bibi Baskin, Iron Man and Superstars series, or Faces and Places.

Accomplished Photographer

Mr Nelson was chosen to train in the summer of 1961 as a camera man -— ‘the club of 27’ — just before Telefis Éireann, Ireland’s first TV station came on air.

The Sligo man was then already an accomplished photographer, working with the Clonmel Nationalist in Tipperary since 1955.

Aonghus McAnally summarized Nelson as: “A trailblazer, a pioneer and a creative force in a new and emerging medium called television as it was when he started.

Kennedy Visit

Michael O’Carroll, later senior sports producer and director, was also one of the ‘club of 27’ who helped put the new television station on air.

He recalls: “Soon Justin Nelson was manning cameras on all sort of event, including President Kennedy’s visit. 

“Not surprisingly, he was good at that aspect of television, but he had other ambitions that soon took him to Producer and Director level – two aspects of the business where he excelled.

Several Books

“Not only did he Produce and Direct, but he devised new streams of programme material, whether he was working in Sports or other programme departments.”

O’Carroll succinctly summarized the Sligo man’s in a tribute penned for colleagues: “Yes, Justin left his mark in RTÉ.  

“Despite the onset of Parkinsons 17 years ago, he was the author of several books as well as being involved with Cabinteely Parish, including Active Retirement,” said the tribute.

RTE Testimonials

Among the books he published was an autobiography and pictorial memoir “Why Me” which included his viewpoints on Parkinsons.

That book also included testimonials of Justin’s significance to RTÉ from Jimmy Magee, Bill O’Herlihy, BIbi Baskin from Donegal, Fred Cogley, Aonghus McAnally and Kathleen Watkins.

                                              Justin Nelson's book, Why Me

Sports Series

Justin Nelson also penned two other books - “Michael Collins - The Final Days” and “Michael Collins - A Fitting Farewell.”

Nelson’s own estimate was that he oversaw 18 All Ireland finals in Croke Park.

Locally, he is synonymous with several sports-themed series, some of which RTÉ filmed on location in his native Sligo.

Television series developed by Nelson included the Nissan Cycle Classic, the All Ireland Triathlon and Superstars.

The late Mr Nelson is survived by wife, Loretto (a deputy head of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) and three daughters: Aisling, Niamh and Tara.

Other surviving relatives include his sister Minnie, in Sligo.