The death has been announced of popular novelist and broadcaster Deirdre Purcell.

The 77-year-old died on Monday morning as a result of a stroke, and is survived by her husband Kevin Healy and sons Adrian and Simon Weckler.

Deirdre originally started out her professional life as an actress in the renowned Abbey Theatre, before she moved into broadcast journalism.

After a number of years reading the news on RTÉ, Deirdre turned her hand to writing fiction. Her novels include A Place of Stones, Love Like Hate Adore, Tell Me Your Secret , The Husband and The Christmas Voyage.

She is probably best known for writing the novel Falling for a dancer, which was turned into a four-part mini series by the BBC in the 1990s and gave Oscar nominee Colin Farrell his big break.

In more recent years, Deirdre returned to the national airwaves where she was a common fixture on the It Says In The Papers segment on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

Her colleagues in RTÉ were among the first to pay tribute to Deirdre.

Radio presenter John Creedon tweeted ‘So sorry to hear of the passing of the remarkable Deirdre Purcell. A brilliant author, actor and journalist, Deirdre was also very kind. She encouraged me on many occasions when I was ‘the new boy’ around the radio centre @rte. Thinking of Kevin and all of those closest to her.’

Radio presenter John Creedon tweeted ‘

News presenter Sharon Tobin said ‘Terribly sad news. The glint in her eye and wicked sense of humour was so refreshing on early mornings in the newsroom. A real lady and a pleasure to work with’.

In a statement Deirdre’s family said they were ‘deeply grieving the sudden loss of Deirdre. To the day before her death Deirdre was as full of plans, schemes and dreams as she always was. Deirdre made friends wherever she wen t and will be remembered by so many as a vibrant, clever and caring companion.

‘The talent, vivacity and sharp mind that made her an award-winning journalist, a globally successful fiction writer and, in her youth, a talented Abbey Theatre actress never left her. She was a force of nature, and we will miss her desperately.’

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