Tuesday 23 May 2017

Pulling out of play gave first sign of illness

Jason O'Brien and Ken Sweeney

AMONG the first signs that something was amiss came when Gerry Ryan broke his usual routine.

The latest episode of his successful show 'Ryan Confidential' was due to air on television at 10.15pm on Thursday, and there had been a lot of publicity concerning Ryan's spiky interview with Heather Mills.

'Ryan Confidential' is in its eighth season, and it had become a tradition for friends, colleagues and production crew to gather in Ryan's home or elsewhere to watch episodes air.

Something similar had been planned for Thursday night, but Ryan contacted the series producer David Blake-Knox to say that he wasn't well enough.

"I was supposed to meet him, but he called to say that he wasn't feeling up to it," Mr Blake-Knox told the Irish Independent last night.

"The first I heard of what happened was this afternoon. He was a very talented and loyal friend, an immensely talented broadcaster. It is unbelievable."

The 53-year-old had also been due to attend the Gate Theatre for the opening night of 'Krapp's Last Tape', but sent word to Gate director Michael Colgan that he would not be able to attend.

Mr Colgan said he was "absolutely devastated" at the death. "He genuinely made this country of ours a better place to live," he said.

Late on Thursday night, Ryan also contacted Alice O'Sullivan, the producer-in-chief of his radio show, to tell her that he felt he was too ill to host the show the following morning.

Broadcaster Fiona Looney was drafted in to replace him.

"When he spoke with people to say he wouldn't be in today, they obviously expressed concern and asked did he need a doctor or anything like that," Claire Duignan, managing director of RTE Radio, said.

"But he said no, he was fine, but he wouldn't be in today."

Among the things he didn't cancel was a planned rehearsal session with the RTE Orchestra and musician Jerry Fish yesterday afternoon.

Poignantly, he was due to rehearse a version of 'All The Time In The World'.

Ryan and Fish were due to perform in the National Concert Hall next Wednesday in 'Mooney Tunes', a special concert of songs picked by listeners to the Derek Mooney show.

It was while en route from his home in Co Carlow that Fish said he realised something was wrong.

Wondering

"I switched on 2fm this morning expecting to hear him on his show but Fiona Looney was replacing him instead. I was wondering what was wrong," he told the Irish Independent.

Arriving at RTE, the former singer with An Emotional Fish said he had been unable to contact the broadcaster.

Leaving RTE he was called by sources at the station telling him the news. "I'm absolutely devastated. I still can't really take it in," he said.

Fish said he intended to keep his date in the concert hall next Wednesday and perform the track in tribute to Ryan.

Leave a message or tribute to Gerry Ryan

Irish Independent

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