Fitzgibbon, Denis (‘Din Joe’) (1921–98), businessman and broadcaster, was born in Cork city. He was reared and educated locally in a traditional catholic environment, attending Presentation Brothers College, Cork. He was a noted rugby player for the Dolphin club and for Munster. His personal honesty, engaging and uncomplicated personality, and large size marked him as a down-to-earth, popular figure, well suited to a business career in marketing and public relations. He studied accountancy after leaving school and worked for some time at Batchelors Foods in Dublin before concentrating on the motor trade and joining Ford's Smithfield Motors dealership in the mid 1940s. After several years of relative obscurity in accounts he was attracted to sales, where his talents were better recognised and rewarded with promotion in the marketing department. He remained with Ford till 1957, when he left to join Volkswagen. He became its sales director in 1960, achieving outstanding success, till in 1975 he became managing director of Toyota Ireland.
He was a legend not only in motor sales but in an unrelated and entirely different career: popular broadcasting. His interest in traditional music and amateur variety performance led him in the early 1950s to Radio Éireann, appearing on a quiz show panel chaired by Joe Linnane. Fitzgibbon, known by his Cork nickname ‘Din Joe’, was thus introduced to a listening public. ‘Din Joe’ had a distinctive voice with a clear Cork accent, once heard never forgotten. By 1953 he was hosting his own recorded live radio entertainment show, ‘Take the floor’, whose main feature was Irish dancing (music supplied by the Garda ceili band) but included music, storytelling, and decidedly wholesome humour. His programme, hosted at venues throughout the country, made house hold names of the Rory O'Connor Dancers, harpist Kathleen Watkins, and actor Eamonn Keane (qv). ‘Din Joe’ became internationally renowned for hosting the only programme to present Irish dancing successfully on radio. His live style was so vivid that it seemed audio-visual. His other radio shows, less enduring than ‘Take the floor’, included ‘Round the fire’ and ‘Can you beat it?’, a series that inspired his book of humour Laughter unlimited with ‘Din Joe’, published in Cork (1957) by Mercier. His stories and anecdotes took a wry look at aspects of Irish and international life. Fitzgibbon knew his strengths: he disliked an experimental involvement with television in the late 1960s and returned to radio. Long after his show ceased in 1978, mere mention of ‘Din Joe’ or ‘Take the floor’ would evoke the bemused question of Irish dancing on the radio and its extraordinary success.
Keeping his radio and business interests separate, he worked with success in the motor trade. Known as a man with the ‘right and honourable’ response to any given situation, he established his own business, was a director of other related motor companies, and was for a time chairman of the Marketing Institute of Ireland. He belonged to a number of golf clubs, notably Elm Park, Milltown, and Hermitage. He lived for many years at Green Gables, Tallaght, Co. Dublin, and retired in 1986. Fitzgibbon's family life was of central importance to him. He and his wife, Emer (m. June 1948) had five daughters and one son (business journalist Frank Fitzgibbon), all of whom survived him at his death in Rathgar after a short illness, 23 November 1998. His funeral took place from St Joseph's church, Terenure, to Glasnevin crematorium. Noting his passing, Sunday Independent columnist Declan McCormack commented (29 November 1998) that ‘Michael Flatley may have made Irish dancing sexy but it was “Take the floor”’s Din Joe (RIP) who made it auditory. He put it on the radio and wonderfully enlivening it was.’