Has Patricia Ryan fallen victim to the Curse of St Munchin?

Back in the year dot, St Munchin was building his church in Limerick and locals refused to help. Strangers who were passing came to his rescue and the church was built.

St Munchin decreed, according to legend, the local in Limerick would never succeed or get recognition from their own for the way he was treated by his own.

Success has come in spadefulls for many Limerick figures, who time after time have been snubbed by their own.

When Frank McCourt attained international success for Angela’s Ashes, I approached a former mayor of Limerick and doyen of the arts. I innocently asked if McCourt would be made a freeman of Limerick.

“Never, never,” he rejoined with bulging eyes.

McCourt was an author whose account of being brought up in abject poverty in Limerick won a Pulitzer Prize. But in his home town, it was met with “never, never” by a leading political/arts know-all.

But he wasn’t the first to pour scorn on great Limerick people who made it onto the world stage in the arts. Richard Harris, the most famous Irishman of his era, got the same treatment.

When I was a junior reporter at the Limerick Leader, and brought up the subject of an honour to Harris, another mayor dismissed the biggest film star of his day accordingly: “That fellow Harris was a blackguard who once jumped from the balcony of the Lyric cinema during a Sunday matinee and one could never give the Freedom of the City to the likes of him.”

His words came to pass, but getting back to Patricia Ryan...

She would not be or expected to be a candidate for the accolade of freeman of the City of Limerick. But she was an accomplished woman in European and Irish political management.

Her role as right-hand woman to Pat Cox played a significant role in his success as president of the European Parliament. Mary Harney engaged her to try and steer her through the morass of the health service. In both roles, she received plaudits.

Ms Ryan, a humble, able woman who never sought the limelight, seems to have made the fatal mistake of trying to ply her talents in her home city of Limerick.

I had to listen to one individual media gobshite in recent days opine: “Isn’t she just a guard’s daughter?”

Yes, the daughter of (the late) Det Sgt Christy Ryan. One of the finest.

A great servant of the Limerick public, just like his daughter.


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