Sunday 28 May 2017

Painful rift over Ryan is plain to see

Gerry's lover mourns alone after being snubbed for family's Mass

Gerry Ryan's widow
Morah and daughter Lottie arrive at the Mass. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Gerry Ryan's widow Morah and daughter Lottie arrive at the Mass. Photo: Gerry Mooney
OLD FRIENDS: Arriving at the memorial mass for Gerry Ryan in Clontarf yesterday were Bono and Ali Hewson. Photo: Gerry Mooney

NIAMH HORAN Entertainment News Reporter

ONE year on and the rift between Gerry Ryan's two lovers appears deeper than ever.

As his widow Morah laid flowers on his graveside yesterday morning, alongside her two daughters Babette and Bonnie, across the city his partner Melanie Verwoerd was putting flowers in the back of a taxi to ferry them to the service in Gerry's memory.

Melanie was not invited to the family celebration in Clontarf and it was a day spent mourning Gerry's passing on her own at home. But a heartbroken Melanie still managed to make her mark on his anniversary.

A solitary wooden bench displaying a simple bronze plaque stands in honour of the couple's memories, under a cherry blossom tree in the middle of Herbert Park.

The small romantic inscription of lyrics from the song Come What May from Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge reads: "Seasons may change, winter to spring, but I love you till the end of time."

The love note has been signed simply 'Melanie'.

Little did Melanie know how cruel the fate of their all-too-short relationship would be -- and what would eventually come to pass.

Shortly before Gerry died, the South African sat in the same spot with the radio presenter, who was going through a difficult time, and reminded him that even in the darkest times there is beauty all around us.

In a tribute this week, she recalled: "I assured him that the horrible time he was going through would also pass.

"Then we made a promise next spring, when the cherry tree flowers again, that we would have champagne under the tree, laugh about the more difficult times and celebrate a new future.

"He died two days later."

Last week, it was not the bright time that those close to Gerry had imagined and it was obvious that the distance between the two women continued to rage on.

In a statement to mark the anniversary of his death, Ms Verwoerd said: "My children and I have not received an invite to the Mass. Furthermore, I wish to commemorate Gerry in my own personal way and have made arrangements to do so privately."

At the Mass, other absences were also noted.

Gerry's best friend, property developer Harry Crosby, was not in attendance. He was also a close friend of Melanie's and he and his wife would socialise with Gerry and his partner during the final years of his life.

It is not the first time since Gerry's death that his girlfriend has been left out of the fold. Melanie was left reeling after being asked to take part in a documentary on his life -- just two days before the late broadcaster's inquest.

The Unicef Ireland boss was forced to turn down producers of the RTE programme, who wanted her to go before cameras the following week.

She was also reportedly unaware of Gerry's cocaine use or that it would be a factor in his inquest. She wept silently as the medical expert's report was read out.

In a statement released this weekend, the heartbroken South African spoke of the role the DJ played in her own children's life.

Encompassing both families, she said: "On this anniversary of his death, my heart goes out to all those who loved Gerry, but in particular to the children that shared his life.

"He was a great father figure, not only to his five children but also to my two children. I know that they all miss him beyond description."

At a Mass at St John the Baptist church in Clontarf, the creme de la creme of the Irish showbiz world turned out to help his family pay tribute to his memory.

Bono, Gay Byrne, Ryan Tubridy, Dave Fanning, MCD promoter Dennis Desmond and his wife Caroline, Agent to the starts Noel Kelly, music mogul Louis Walsh and others joined his family -- including Morah Ryan and his five children Rex, Lottie, Elliot, Bonnie and Babette -- at the small private gathering.

Speaking outside the service, the U2 frontman paid tribute to the star saying: "I was just thinking today that his flaws were so obvious and common place and we all shared them, but his talent was so rare."

2fm star Dave Fanning added: "A year ago we lost the funniest man I have ever met in my entire life and my best friend."

Louis Walsh spoke of the sense of loss in the industry saying: "He was a good friend and a great man for our business. 2FM will never be the same without him."

Joe Duffy remarked about the fans that he touched who have still remained loyal to this day: "I went out to the grave this morning and there were fans up there who never met Gerry but who listened to him every morning. He was such a brilliant broadcaster. And that's what we're here to remember today."

Meanwhile, gardai have failed to find the drug dealer who supplied Ryan with cocaine prior to his collapse.

Extensive inquiries were carried out after medical evidence at his inquest indicated cocaine had been the trigger of his death, but it now looks unlikely that anyone will face a prosecution.

Sunday Independent

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