Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Eileen Fox, who unwittingly rocked 1960s Church, has passed away

Gay Byrne has led tributes to the woman behind the ‘Bishop and the nightie’ incident.
A WOMAN WHO unwittingly sparked one of the best-known controversies in Irish television history - which came to be known simply as the ‘Bishop and the Nightie’ incident’ – has died.

Gaybo on the Late Late

The family of Eileen Fox confirmed her death last week, and broadcasters Joe Duffy and Gay Byrne paid tributes to her.
The controversy
Eileen and her husband Richard appeared on the Late Late Show in 1966 and took part in a quiz item for married couples.
When asked by host Byrne what colour nightie she had worn on the night of their honeymoon, she replied that she hadn’t worn any.

Laughter followed, and the show continued as normal.
However, the Bishop of Clonfert, Dr. Thomas Ryan, was less than amused and phoned The Sunday Press to announce that he planned to denounce the item in a sermon at Loughrea Cathedral.


The paper ran with the frontpage “Bishop slates TV act” and the country exploded into a frenzy of controversy which would keep tongues wagging and newspaper columns filled for months.
“Lord rest her, I never saw her from that day to this but it truly was one of the great moments of showbiz,” Byrne said this afternoon.

The former Late Late host said the coverage had continued, particularly in the Irish Times “for about two months, till it just died away”.

“It was very very strong for a while. It wasn’t a joke.

The couple themselves weren’t bothered by the coverage, Byrne said:
“The only reaction we had from them was that they were highly amused by the whole thing.
“I never heard of any bad repercussions on her or the family.”
Byrne issued a statement saying it hadn’t been the show’s intention to embarrass viewers as the fallout continued. He said it was a late-night show designed for adult viewers.

Audio of the 1966 Late Late exchange can be heard via the RTÉ Archive. Video footage has not survived.

Bishop and the Nightie[edit]

Gay Byrne, pictured on the set of The Late Late Show in 1966, around the time of the Brian Trevaskis and Bishop and Nightie affairs

A minor furore erupted in 1966 when the Bishop of Clonfert condemned The Late Late Show as immoral and Gay Byrne as a promoter of "filth". The condemnation stemmed from a small item on the show in which Byrne was interviewing a number of couples to see how well they knew each other. Byrne asked a Mrs. Fox from Terenure if she could remember what colour her nightdress was on the first night of her married life to her Mr. Fox.[1] The woman first implied it was "transparent" before revealing that she might not have worn an item of clothing to bed that night at all.[1][18] This response was received with laughter by Byrne and the studio audience, with Mrs. Fox then revealing her nightdress had been white.[1] However, the Bishop either misheard or ignored this, feeling the need to protest against this "filthy" programme and the "filth" which was being televised into the nation's homes.[18] The Bishop of Clonfert sent a telegram: "Disgusted with disgraceful performance",[1]prompting a swift RTÉ apology which the Irish Examiner states was similar to the apology the same broadcaster issued during the Brian Cowen nude portraits controversy in 2009.[19] Meath VEC said it was "anti-national", whilst Loughrea Town Council described it as "a dirty programme that should be abolished altogether".[1] The furore died down after a number of weeks, but is still remembered. When the topic featured on the 2008 documentary How The Irish Have Sexbroadcast by rival channel TV3, the Irish Independent‍ '​s Damian Corless said Éamon de Valera "won't be turning on, but will instead be turning in his grave".[1]


  1. Pat, Ryan all to well reflected the prevailing mood of the time when almost every aspect of life in the Republic came under the watchful eye of the hierarchy. Subservient governments,the legal and medical professions paid due attention lest they get a belt of the crozier.. The Catholic bishops wielded power on an unbelievable scale in their role as the guardians of people's actions and even their thinking. Probably the most active and prolific of the bunch was none other than tha Cavan born John Charles McQuaid, Lord Archbishop of Dublin who actually destroyed the chances of free medical care for mothers and children because it didn't suit his vision of social medicine. He also had the sale of Tampax banned in case women got " aroused" when inserting one. Like so many bishops he was eventually exposed as a hypocrite with a fondness for young boys.
    Dalriada Dick

  2. Thomas Ryan was private secretary to John XXIII and was completely mad.

  3. Did you hear the one about the alleged condom machine in an alleged pub in Charlestown (Mayo) once upon a time. The story goes the machine was always empty and the Landlord (Pub Owner) rarely if ever filled it up. The boys were too embarrassed to ask for their quids back. Anyway I contributed to a chat on the then North West Radio in Sligo-now Ocean FM Boy was my old PP like Thomas The Tank Engine for a week or two-shouldent be allowed-(May the good lady above rest in peace)

  4. Another enterprising Irish man - after the Bishop Casey affair - started up a company fitting condom machines in pubs. He called his machines and condoms - "Just In Casey" :-)

    1. Open Minded Parishioner6 November 2015 at 22:50


    2. Hi pat, I heard of this website through a conversation I shouldn't have been in recently. But I'm glad I did. How wonderful to hear from someone who finally agrees that we don't need Jesus forgiveness and we are all equal. Personally I have always thought that asking forgiveness from him was redundant and unnecessary. All of us are equal and thanks for promoting this!!

  5. I read in a book not so long ago that Vatican bank was a major shareholder in the durex firm . It leaves me a bit puzzled are we to buy them but not use them or is a long term plan to slowly get rid of protestants

    1. Interesting, anonymous at 12:43. Now, I'm guessing you don't remember what book that was? Would love to read that one.

    2. The Vatican Bank probably wanted to stop the proddies increasing and multiplying

    3. It possibly was the book about pope john paul 1 by David yallop

  6. Her Funeral Mass is on Sat Morning at 10am in Kimmage Church. God rest her soul.

  7. Always remember the advice of the late Maureen Potter to bride's on their wedding nights: "Take a tip from one who knows - tie your nighty to your toes" :-D

  8. The photo of Bishop Ryan shows a man with a strange look and a glint in his eye !!!