They loved the same man but Morah and Melanie couldn't be more different
Published 11/12/2010 | 05:00
MELANIE and Morah loved the same man, at different times. They called him different names. To Melanie Verwoerd, he was her Gerry. To Morah Ryan, wife for 26 years, he was Gerard.
Both ashen-faced women turned up at his inquest yesterday dressed head to toe in black.
But although they turned up wearing exactly the same combination of clothes -- black coat, boots and leather handbags -- the two women couldn't have looked more different.
Morah's style is more formal -- a Hermes skin bag, cashmere coat with velvet, Peter Pan collar and ankle boots contrasting with Melanie's more contemporary, casual style of leather bag, wool coat and wedge-heeled boots.
The coral blusher applied to their cheeks on a cold winter's day did little to hide their matching emotions.
Diplomatic to the core, the former South African ambassador to Ireland was the epitome of political correctness yesterday when she entered the coroner's court in Store Street.
Melanie walked across to Morah, extending her hand and said: "I just thought I'd come down and say hello." Morah replied: "Thank you", shaking her hand and the two kissed. No matter how dimplomatically it was dealt with yesterday, there was always going to be a frisson of awkwardness. They say talking is a catharsis after death, a purging of emotional tensions.
Melanie spoke about Gerry 's death to her long-standing friend Marian Finucane on RTE, while Morah eulogised life with Gerard to Barry Egan from the 'Sunday Independent'.
Later a family friend of the Ryans revealed how the children were very conscious of some of the comments by Melanie and said: "It is difficult for them to hear a woman who isn't their mother talk about their beloved Gerry."
Melanie told Marian she hoped that "by doing this one interview the media may give us space to mourn Gerry privately".
There was another follow-up interview with 'Irish Tatler' in which the 43-year-old revealed how she "walked around in a daze for the first four months".
Morah and Melanie are not the first women to walk that sensitive thin line that looms like a deep chasm between the first family and new girlfriend.
Morah has not discussed Melanie's comments about Gerry's death, but she reportedly expressed concern about the interview when advised about it the night before by RTE.
While it was Melanie who made the grim discovery, she wasn't aware of the results of toxicology report which spelt out her partner's use of cocaine. It came as a "total shock" and Melanie hastily handwrote a statement.
Meanwhile, Morah's statement was issued on her behalf by a professional PR consultant.