Monday 19 August 2019

Bobby Ryan's son haunted by fears his injured dad was left to starve to death in farm tank

Distraught: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert and Michelle Ryan outside the Criminal Courts of Justice after Patrick Quirke was found guilty. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Distraught: Bobby Ryan’s children Robert and Michelle Ryan outside the Criminal Courts of Justice after Patrick Quirke was found guilty. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Allison Bray and Kathy Armstrong

Bobby Ryan's son is haunted to this day by the thought of his father being beaten and left to starve to death in a concrete tomb.

The adult son and namesake of the murdered DJ known as Mr Moonlight (52) said he still feared that his father was left to die in the tank.

"When Daddy was found, I thought that's what Daddy was doing, that he was thrown in there hurt and just left to starve," Robert Ryan said in an emotional interview airing on Virgin Media One tonight.

His body was found 22 months after his disappearance in a disused tank on Mary Lowry's farm - land that had been leased by dairy farmer Patrick Quirke (50).

Quirke is now serving a life sentence for the murder of the popular father of two after a jury found him guilty last week.

The 15-week trial was the longest in the history of the State.

"When I'm trying to go to sleep every night, I'm turning and tossing, waving my hands and screaming in bed," Robert said in the documentary 'Mr Moonlight: The Trial of Patrick Quirke', which airs at 10pm.

"Every time I close my eyes I think I'm in that black hole, screaming to get out, scraping the walls," he said.

His sister Michelle Ryan spoke of the anguish the family suffered when their father went missing after leaving his girlfriend Mary Lowry's home on June 3, 2011.

"It was that gut feeling kicking in again that we knew he was coming to harm," she recalled of the desperate search for her father following his disappearance. "It was mental torture. Was Daddy tied up? Was he trying to get to his phone? Was he hurt? Was he still alive?" she said.

"For weeks on end, we were going through the woods screaming his name," she said of the futile search for his body in Bansha Woods, where his unlocked van was found parked.

When their father's body was 'found' by Quirke in the disused run-off tank at Ms Lowry's farm at Fawnagown, Co Tipperary, Michelle said she was numb with shock.

"I didn't hear anything after that, I was just paralysed," she said.

Robert agreed, noting the grim find confirmed the family's worst nightmare.

Relative: John Ryan, brother of Bobby Ryan, leaves court after the verdict and sentencing. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Relative: John Ryan, brother of Bobby Ryan, leaves court after the verdict and sentencing. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

"We wanted it for so long, to get Daddy back. That day came and the phone call came and it just took every last bit of us," he said.

Now, almost eight years after they last saw their father, Mr Ryan's children are still struggling to come to terms with their grief.

"It wasn't just Daddy, he was my best friend, he was a granddad, he was our world, the life and soul of everything," Michelle said.

"Our world is gone, Patrick Quirke left us with nothing. We can't look forward to anything because the whole room could be full but the one person we want there isn't there."

She recalled the last time she saw her father at a local gig which she described as a special night, as if "all the years were rolled into one".

"He put on Tina Turner's 'Proud Mary' and he said, 'Come on, Shelly, sing', so I did and his eyes lit up and the tears were coming out his eyes from laughing. That was the last time I was ever going to dance with Daddy or sing with him, the following Friday he was gone."

Irish Independent

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