Belfast Telegraph

Home News

Gerry Ryan: Ex-pirate DJ who rose through the ranks to rule Irish airwaves with a multitude of fans

Gerry Ryan, the popular RTE radio and television presenter, died last week of a heart-attack. He was 53.

Born in Clontarf, Dublin, in 1956, Gerry Ryan was the son of a local dentist Vincent Ryan and his wife Maureen.

He was educated at the Vincentian school, St Paul's College in Raheny, and went to Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied law. He then studied and qualified as a solicitor.

Ryan became an apprentice solicitor at the legal firm of Malone and Potter. But he was also involved in pirate radio, working for a station called Big D.

He started in RTE Radio 2 in 1979, earning £78-a-week. Initially he had a night-time show but in 1988 he switched to the main morning slot.

By the mid-1990s he was well on his way to becoming one of RTE's leading broadcasters — and one of its highest-paid stars. During that time more than 500,000 listeners tuned in to his show.

Ryan married Morah Brennan in 1982. They had met in college and settled in Clontarf.

Over the years, Ryan shared details of his family life with his listeners, sometimes revealing intimate details of his marriage.

The couple had five children — Charlotte, Rex, Bonnie, Elliot and Babette.

But two years ago, after 26 years together, the couple surprised many when they separated and Ryan formed a relationship with a former South African ambassador to Ireland, Melanie Verwoerd, who is now executive director of Unicef Ireland.

After the split he lived in an apartment near the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, which was owned by a friend, and more recently in a house in Leeson

Street, where he was found dead last Friday.

Apart from his long-running RTE 2FM radio show, he was also the presenter of a series of television shows. Most recently he made a series called Ryan Confidential in which he carried out in-depth interviews with celebrities.

He also presented one Late Late Show as a stand-in for Pat Kenny when the latter's mother died. He had a relaxed style and was acclaimed for the way he treated his guests.

He recently signed a deal with RTE to present a Saturday night chat show.

For Ryan, the turn of the century marked a period of personal tragedy. His father died of prostate cancer in 2001 and his mother died on Christmas Day 2006.

He had also suffered health problems earlier in 2006, when he was rushed to hospital after collapsing with a viral infection combined with exhaustion.


Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph