Monday 19 February 2018

Broadcaster enjoyed a meteoric rise in radio


Gerry Ryan was born in Clontarf, Dublin, in 1956. He 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.

Gerry 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 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.

Gerry Ryan married Morah Brennan. They 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 which was owned by a friend, and more recently in a house in Leeson Street, where he was found dead on Friday.

Apart from his long-running 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.

In 2007, he committed to RTE for another three years, in a deal which was worth €550,000 a year. Because he was on contract, he was asked to voluntarily take a pay cut -- which he reluctantly agreed to after initially refusing.

Sunday Independent

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