Gerry keeps face after break-up
A brave face and a quick quip as Gerry faces up to the heartache of his sad marriage break-up
Published 11/03/2008 | 00:00
When Gerry Ryan came on the radio yesterday morning, half the nation was probably tuned in expecting him to make some comment on the break-up of his 26-year marriage to his wife Morah, which he revealed last Friday.
At the very least, some listeners expected Gerry to perhaps sound somewhat down in the mouth, just going through the motions. But the truth is that Gerry has never been like that.
Indeed, if anybody could cope with something as traumatic as a marriage break-up, it has got to be him.
In fact, yesterday morning he sounded positively chipper during the course of his three-hour 2FM programme.
He announced that the Ryan Show would be marking its 20th anniversary this Friday and there would be celebrations all week.
He even discussed plans to bring back the Gerry Ryan Suitcase Weekend, where listeners were to be asked to turn up at the airport ready to travel if they won the competition.
Celebrations kicked off yesterday with weekends away to be won and a general air of razzamatazz and joy about the landmark anniversary.
"At the moment all of us here feel 20 years young instead of 20 years old," he said. Ironically the radio show has now lasted nearly as long as his marriage to childhood sweeheart Morah.
The Gerry Ryan I have met down through the years has always been the consummate professional. He has been broadcasting for three decades and certainly did not become the country's second highest-paid broadcaster -- he reportedly earned €558,990 in 2006 -- by not being the ultimate performer.
Part of the eclectic charm of his programme has been personal revelations and chat about his family; he has often talked about "Mrs Ryan" -- as he called Morah -- and his five children.
Yesterday was no exception. He told listeners how he had taken one of his young sons to a football match in Darndale on Saturday morning and how much they had both enjoyed it -- despite the high winds and the fact that some youngsters in the area were doing dangerous handbrake turns in cars not too far from the football pitches there.
In a statement issued by solicitors last Friday, it was stated that, for both Gerry and Morah, their children would remain their priority.
Gerry later revealed on his programme how he had walked along the promenade near his native Clontarf on Sunday night, watching the emergency services making provisions for the high tide and flooding, which in the end never appeared in the area.
This would lend credence to one report that Gerry, who has moved out of the family home on Castle Avenue, is currently staying in the house once owned by his late parents in Clontarf.
His mother Maureen died there suddenly the Christmas before last, and Gerry's younger brother Mike -- who is also separated from his wife -- is believed to be still living there.
Staying there would make sense for the broadcaster, leaving him close-by for visiting his children and taking the toll bridge over the Liffey to work in RTE every morning.
I first met Gerry when he was at college and he was a whirlwind of activity. He adored the music of Genesis and Peter Gabriel, and spent time rounding up musicians to perform their songs in big stage productions in Trinity College. His enthusiasm seemed to suck participants in, no matter what their feelings about the prog-rock outfit.
Gerry and Morah initially lived in an artisan cottage not too far from Dublin city centre. He has often recounted how they had no money at the time. He had intended to practise law, and worked briefly as a solicitor's apprentice, but instead chose a career as a fledgling disc jockey with 2FM, earning the then princely sum of £100 a week.
They later moved to a house in Marino, eventually settling in Clontarf as the family expanded. They now have five children -- Lotti (20), Rex (18), Bonnie (15), Elliot (12) and Babette (10).
The couple married at St John's Church in Clontarf, and famously were later joined on honeymoon by pal Pat Kenny. They subsequently holidayed abroad with close friends Dave and Ursula Fanning.
Gerry has a close network of celebrity pals who will undoubtedly help him through his darkest hours. These include property tycoon Harry Crosbie, nightclub owner Robbie Fox, Bono, Gay Byrne and music promoters Dave Kavanagh and Denis Desmond. Renards owner Robbie actually is close friends with both Gerry and Morah and over the weekend said he would "be there for both of them" if needed.
Gerry and Morah were always seen at social functions and first nights and seemed a very united couple. They liked to party and were part of a clique of well-heeled, bon-vivants. Gerry also frequently acted as MC at numerous events, always providing a quick, humorous turn of phrase and a rapier-like wit.
He frequently took the Michael out of yours truly when we worked together for many years on the 2FM Song Contest, usually staged in Vicar Street. This mainly involved some cutting remarks about the tabloid paper I was working for at the time.
Gerry himself always had a great nose for a news story. I remember travelling to New York with him many years ago to watch an up-and-coming Irish band which was being managed by a mutual friend. The entourage needed two taxis to get to to our hotel and the trip took longer than usual due to pounding rain and lightning storms.
When we eventually met up at the hotel Gerry looked a little bit shaky. "My taxi was hit by a bolt of lightning, it lifted it right up into the air. It was actually pretty scary," he revealed. "That would make a good story wouldn't it. Gerry Ryan cheats death in New York?" he laughed.
Sure enough the paper I was working for at the time included it on page one, and were far more interested in it than the band we had gone to see during their 15 minutes of fame in the Big Apple.
In New York, we visited bars, restaurants, gigs and nightclubs and Gerry was always great fun and good company. We had late nights in Fitzpatrick's Hotel in Manhattan, where we were staying, and generally the trip was more like a holiday than work. Our paths have crossed a few times a year since, and we still recall how enjoyable that particular excursion was.
For well over two decades now Gerry has lived his life in the public eye. From his early days at 2FM, hosting music programmes, he moved on to the talk radio programme that has become the mainstay of the station's schedule -- drawing in 320,000 listeners a day.
Before 2FM he had worked in pirate radio and became a household name after the famous "Lambo" incident in 1987. At the time, Gerry and a group of volunteers were asked by the Gay Byrne Show to survive on their wits in the wilds of Connemara. They told how they clubbed a lamb to death and ate it in order to survive -- and the nation was shocked by their behaviour. But it later turned out to be an elaborate and headline-grabbing hoax.
Besides his radio programme, Gerry has also hosted numerous TV shows including Ryantown and The School Around The Corner, with the most recent ones being Ryan Confidential and Operation Transformation.
They say that if you're going through a hard time emotionally, one of the best ways to cope is keep busy, busy, busy. For Gerry Ryan that's not difficult: he doesn't know any other way to live.
Celebrity marriages -- gone wrong
When it comes to marriage -- and marriage breakdowns -- our favourite movie stars have always done things to excess.
There is some dispute about the shortest celebrity marriage ever -- but Britney Spears must be up there. Within 12 hours of getting married to Jason Allen Alexander in 2004, the unhappy couple filed for an annulment.
But it is reckoned that the 1919 marriage of matinee idol Rudolph Valentino to actress Jean Acker lasted even less time -- just six hours.
Dennis Hopper is also no stranger to short marriages. The bad-boy actor split up from Michelle Phillips just nine days after getting hitched in the 1970s. Cher's marriage to fellow musician Gregg Allman ended after the same number of days.
Hollywood marriages tend to be on the short side, but some of them bucked the trend.
Harrison Ford was married to screenwriter Melissa Mathison for 18 years, but the pair split in 2001. He's now married to actress Calista Flockhart.
Robert Redford's marriage to childhood sweetheart Lola van Wagenen lasted 27 years. They split in 1985 and he hasn't re-married.
Clint Eastwood also had a lengthy first marriage, having been wed to Maggie Johnson for 23 years. He is currently married to TV news anchor Dina Ruiz for 12 years.
When one thinks of Hollywood marriages, Elizabeth Taylor's name always crops up. The veteran actress has been married eight times -- tying the knot with Richard Burton on two occasions. Her last marriage to Larry Fortensky ended in 1996 and she has not remarried.