Ní Bheidh a Leithéid Arís Ann
Deaglán de Bréadún
It was a pity the late Gerry Ryan never did political programmes. He was intelligent and well-educated but with a good sense also of where the ordinary punter was coming from. What did Kipling say? To walk with kings nor lose the common touch.
Gerry Ryan 1956-2010 (Photograph by Cyril Byrne)
I knew him slightly and when we met at various functions around the town we swapped the usual pleasantries and observations on the passing scene. I had meant to remind him jokingly sometime that, in his pirate radio days, I wrote a glowing review of an excellent documentary programme of his in this newspaper.
My intended quip was that he owed his “shtart” to me! Sadly, that conversation will now never take place, at least not in this world. I met him on the street about a week before he died and we traded the kind of perfunctory but friendly greetings that people exchange who are on their way to appointments that seem important at the time.
Although he was a highly-intelligent and talented fellow, I confess I did not listen regularly to his 2FM radio programme: I couldn’t follow him across that line between populism and vulgarity. Nor did his one-to-one television interviews particularly appeal to me. But I believe he would have been excellent as the compere of a political discussion or Questions-and-Answers type of programme.
The tributes from the Taoiseach and other senior politicians reflected his more serious and political side. As a Northsider who, I believe, hung out with the Haughey children, his tendencies were most likely Fianna Fáil. But the tributes came from all sides of the political spectrum.
He had a reckless streak which was part of his public appeal but which must have caused anxious moments to the management in RTE. This was seen most dramatically in the “Lambo” episode where he was leading a group who were meant to be living off the land in Connemara and Ryan concocted a yarn to the effect that they had killed a lamb and cooked it for dinner.
It is shocking that someone so full of life and vibrancy could pass away at such a young age – just weeks short of his 54th birthday. We know not the day nor the hour. With his financial success and his taste for the finer things in life, he personified the exuberance of the Celtic Tiger era, Ireland’s answer to the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
Many people have been touched by the fact that this hugely-popular man died a lonely death. He was famously devoted to his children and deepest sympathy goes to them and to all his loved ones. It is certainly safe to say, in the time-honoured words, that we shall not see his like again. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.