Richie Ryan’s ‘generous’ public service recalled at funeral Mass

Former Fine Gael minister for finance and MEP died on Sunday aged 90

 

Richie Ryan, a former Fine Gael minister for finance, MEP and member of the European Court of Auditors, made “a wonderful and generous” contribution to Irish public life through his work, his funeral Mass has heard.

Mr Ryan died on Sunday aged 90. He was one of the last remaining members of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government that sat from 1973 to 1977.

Members of his family and friends were joined at the Church of St Thérèse in Mount Merrion, Co Dublin by former colleagues from that government including Tom O’Donnell (92), the oldest surviving cabinet member, and Paddy Cooney (82), who was minister for justice.

Mr Ryan was predeceased by his wife Mairéad and was mourned by his children - Declan, Cillian, Ultan, Aoife and Bláthnaid - and his surviving brothers, Jim, Mark, a priest based in Australia, and Mícheál. Also present were sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

President Michael D Higgins attended with his wife Sabina and aide de camp Col Liam Condon and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also present.

Welcoming the congregation, chief celebrant Fr Paddy O’Byrne said Mr Ryan had been “very spiritual” in life and was a regular Mass-goer at St Thérèse’s.

Pleasures

The symbols of his life brought forward included a collage of photographs from his 90th birthday, which was celebrated just three weeks ago. There was a basket of gardening tools and flowers, representing one of his great pleasures, and a framed scroll marking his appointment as an honorary silver patrol of the National Concert Hall, marking his love of music.

Other gifts included a marine peaked cap worn during Mr Ryan’s 40 years as a Commissioner of Irish Lights; a crossword book in acknowledgement of his and his wife’s love of the Irish Times crossword; and finally, a volume of his budgets from 1973 to 1977.

“We celebrate a wonderful life of a great man and a great politician,” said Fr O’Byrne. “Richie contributed in a wonderful and generous way to Irish society through his political work.”

The readings came from the Prophet Isaiah (The Lord will destroy death forever) and St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Alive or dead, we belong to the Lord).

Mr Ryan’s daughter Bláthnaid, together with daughter-in-law Fiona and Aisling, sang On Eagle’s Wings (Joncas). Niamh McCormack sang Ave Maria (Schubert), Panis Angelicus (Aquinas)and Lascia ch’io Pianga (Handel).

There was no eulogy but Mr Ryan’s coffin left the church to the strains of Going Home (Dvorák/Fisher).

Many political figures attended the funeral including former taoiseach John Bruton, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Ministers Paschal Donohoe, Richard Bruton, and Mary Mitchell-O’Connor; former ministers Barry Desmond, David Andrews, Alan Dukes, Pat Carey, Nora Owen (with her sister Mary Banotti) and Frances Fitzgerald.

Also in attendance was George Birmingham, President of the Court of Appeal, former senator Maurice Manning, former Fine Gael public relations adviser Frank Flannery, and members of Liam Cosgrave’s family, including the late taoiseach’s daughter Mary and son Liam jnr.

Mr Ryan was buried in Newland’s Cross Cemetery.