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Broadcaster Ryan makes final journey


06.05.10

Gerry Ryan made his final journey from his family home today as friends and colleagues gathered at his funeral.

Hundreds of fans stood in silence as his five children and ex-wife Morah took him back to the north Dublin chapel where he was baptised and married.

His two sons Rex and Elliott, his two brothers Mick and Vincent, filmmaker David Blake-Knox and Michael O'Connor carried Ryan's coffin was carried into St John the Baptist Church, Clontarf.

Poignantly, the Mass was being held in the same church where the radio presenter was baptised in 1956, where he married his former wife Morah, where their five children were christened and where his family held the funerals of his father Vincent in 2001 and his mother Maureen just three years ago.

The chief mourners included his children Lottie, 23, Rex, 20, Bonnie, 17, Elliott, 14, and Babette, 10 and his partner Melanie Verwoerd and her children.

The String Quartet from the National Symphony Orchestra performed as mourners - which included President Mary McAleese, a friend of the well-loved broadcaster who lectured him in Trinity College, and friends and colleagues from RTÉ.

Among the famous faces in the congregation were also pop mogul Louis Walsh, Boyzone's Keith Duffy, and Westlife.

Ryan, 53, died suddenly last Friday from a suspected massive heart attack.

His body was found by Ms Verwoerd on the floor of his Dublin apartment, which he moved into after he split from his wife after 26 years of marriage in March 2008.

His funeral Mass was being celebrated by family friend Fr Michael Collins, Fr Dermot McCarthy, Local Parish priest Fr Cormac McIlraith and a school friend of Gerry's, Fr Jack Harris.

The small church was packed with the DJ's friends, including close RTE colleagues Pat Kenny, Ryan Tubridy and Joe Duffy, who sat alongside Government ministers Eamon Ryan and John Gormley and General David Ashe, acting Chief of Staff for the Irish Defence Forces.

As Ryan was remembered through a simple service, his life was also celebrated.

Fr Brian D'Arcy - a close friend and regular contributor to Ryan's long-running radio show - told the congregation he felt lonely and broken, like the entire nation.

"None of us who ever knew Gerry Ryan will ever let him die," he said.

He told mourners to comfort one another with Ryan's innumerable stories and to weave them together in fabric in a great compassionate coat of many colours which Gerry's life undoubtedly was.

He then recalled his own personal memories about the infamous broadcaster and revealed how only last week he discovered he was the godfather of one of Ryan's children.

"I knew Gerry for well over 30 years," he continued.

"In all that time I admired him, was in awe of him, counselled him, was counselled by him.

"He had a heart as big as a mountain. His vision had no limits. His intelligence was at times bewildering, to him and to me."

Prayers of the faithful were then read by Ryan's children Babs, Elliott and Bonnie, and his nephew and godchild Lucas.


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