'I will miss my dad greatly,' says Gerry Ryan's son
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.
After communion, boy band Westlife moved to one side of the altar where they performed their hit single You Raise Me Up with members of the gospel choir.
Ryan’s brother Vincent, also known as Manno, and his two eldest children, Lottie and Rex, then paid tribute to the broadcaster in a touching eulogy.
“Where can we begin to describe a man that the nation already seems to know so well,” said Lottie.
“You all knew Gerry Ryan as the motormouth broadcaster, but obviously what we’re more familiar with is him as our loving dad and as our dad he was pretty much a text book super dad.”
Lottie told how Ryan would drop anything for his kids, was her best friend and a free guidance counsellor throughout her life.
“To quote one of dad’s favourite films Blade Runner ’the light that burns twice as brightly burns twice as fast’ and how brightly he has shone,” she continued, fighting back tears.
“I guess a lot of people would probably feel robbed of losing a dad so soon, but I can speak on behalf of myself, my brothers and my sisters when I say that we are honoured to be part of the Gerry Ryan show for as long as we were.”
Rex described how the DJ was the definition of a cool dad, a rock during his teenage years and a walking encyclopaedia who seemingly knew the answer to every question.
“We had a true father-son trust that stayed strong always,” said Rex.
“As I got older I became more fascinated by my dad. The way he entered a room and instantly injected energy to it. The way he captured an audience.
“This was a man who was too big for this world. He shone more brightly than anyone I’ve come across in my life.
“He was a true believer in cherishing and enjoying life and making every second count, which he most certainly did.
“I will miss my dad greatly and I’m so proud to be his son.”
Rock group U2, Ryan’s favourite group who he supported throughout their career, then sent a special message from New York.
“Calling from New York on the Ryan Line, Ryan Line still open,” said Bono before the band performed their track 'With Or Without You'.
“Goodbye Gerry, see you down the road,” the band’s frontman added at the end.
Tens of thousands of fans across the country listened to the funeral Mass live on 2fm, the radio station where Ryan became a household name over the last 30 years.
After the moving service, his remains were taken to Dardistown Cemetery where he will be buried in a private service alongside his parents in the Ryan family plot.
The pipe player Neillidh Mulligan will perform 'Barr Na Cuille' (Wings of my Soul) at the graveside.