Community mourns death of GAA player’s father

A large crowd is expected to pour into the parish of Clara, Co Kilkenny, tomorrow for the funeral Mass of Johnny Ryan, father of All-Ireland winning captain Lester Ryan, who died in a farm accident on Wednesday.

Community mourns death of GAA player’s father

Mr Ryan’s remains were brought to his family’s farmhouse in the Dunbell area of Clane, after an autopsy was performed at University Hospital Waterford.

It is understood that the farmer, 61, died instantly after he was trapped by machinery he had been using with a tractor to spread slurry.

Following private family prayers tomorrow morning, his body will be removed to St Colman’s Church in Clara for funeral Mass at 11am, followed by burial in the local cemetery.

Many tributes have been paid to the popular community figure and lifelong GAA devotee who played for the Clara hurling team when they won the club’s first ever Kilkenny senior hurling championship in 1986 and whose three sons Lester, Liam, and Tom were members of the team when they won their second in 2013.

That victory in 2013 meant Lester was nominated as captain of the Kilkenny inter-county team last year and it was he who brought the Liam McCarthy Cup home to, initially, the city and then the local parish after their All-Ireland replay win over Tipperary last September.

“At the local homecoming in Clara, there was Johnny with his high-vis jacket and him parking cars,” recalled neighbour, farmer, and agricultural journalist Matt O’Keeffe yesterday.

“They told him to go in to Lester, but that was Johnny’s way. When there was work to be done, he did it.”

Local GAA activities have been suspended until further notice as a result of the tragedy, while Kilkenny have pulled out of the inter-county Walsh Cup, due to start this weekend, as a mark of respect.

Mr Ryan is survived by his wife Lilly and three sons.

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