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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 2, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    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.

    • Éanna Brophy says:

      Your tribute to Gerry Ryan is generous and well expressed, but it is a pity, Deaglán, that you did not listen more to his programme, which embraced a far wider spectrum than populism and vulgarity. As for politics, Gerry frequently did interviews and analyses that were far more trenchant and penetrating than any you’d hear on current affairs or news programmes.
      The other aspect of his broadcasting that deserves highlighting is not just his empathy with listeners who phoned in with their problems – but the fact that he offered them far more than mere words of comfort: he went out of his way to organise practical help to people in distress, drawing on his own and the programme’s extraordinary range of contacts.
      Indeed Ni bheidh a leitheid arís ann … and not only is RTE, but Ireland all the poorer for his tragic passing.

    • Hugh says:

      A fair assessment Deaglán, and a lot more balanced than what I’ve read and heard from the Irish media so far.

    • Brian Mc says:

      Gerry, in his early days of radio was very funny, fresh and had his finger on the pulse of the nation…….however, his television appearances became more and more nauseating as time went on until, personally, I found him completely unwatchable.

    • Ray D says:

      He was intelligent and well educated but so were millions of others. He made no impression whatsoever on me and I can’t say I suffered from his complete absence in my life.

    • XXfactor says:

      The despicable feeding frenzy of the carrion crows of ‘Grub Street’ says everything you need to know about the twitterati…Talk is cheap…Chirpy chirpy cheap cheap…

    • Deaglán says:

      The public reaction to Gerry Ryan’s death has been extraordinary. I am sure he would be astonished by it himself. It tells us something about ourselves. Would any serving politician get a send-off like that? Clearly he should have gone into politics himself!

    • XXfactor says:

      Unlikely … it appears GR was well liked..!

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