Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gerry died alone, wrapped in his bedclothes and lying on the floor

Edel Kennedy

HE could provoke, sympathise and entertain in equal measures.

But although Gerry Ryan had hundreds of thousands of listeners every day, he died alone, wrapped in his bedclothes and lying on the floor of an apartment near Dublin city centre.

Just hours before he had been socialising with friends in the Four Seasons Hotel which he once described as his "canteen".

His friend of 30 years, Dave Kavanagh, said they met at the hotel at 4pm as arranged. Mr Kavanagh, former manager of Clannad, said his girlfriend joined them and they decided to go together to Town Bar and Grill on Kildare Street.

"The form was good and it was a very enjoyable evening," he said at yesterday's inquest into the death of the 53-year-old.

Mr Ryan didn't stay late because he had recorded an interview for 'Ryan Confidential' and he wanted to go home and look at it.

"He stood up...said goodnight...and went to get a taxi."

When questioned about Mr Ryan being under pressure, he agreed.

"That was why we met up, to talk about that ongoing matter of concern that was putting him under a lot of pressure."

He was also asked by Coroner Dr Brian Farrell if Mr Ryan had taken "any medication or any other substance to your knowledge".

"No," he replied.

Another man, Willy Power, said he had received a call from Mr Kavanagh who asked if his girlfriend and Mr Ryan could join them at their pre-arranged dinner on Kildare Street. He said Mr Ryan was "no more (tired) than anyone else".

Even the taxi driver who brought Mr Ryan home agreed that he was in good form.

"During the trip he was in good form, we had a discussion about the taxi business and other issues," he said.

"I could tell he'd had a few drinks but he wasn't drunk or in a bad way."

But later that night Mr Ryan made two phone calls to tell people he was very unwell.


The first was to his partner, Ms Verwoerd, at around 11.40pm to say he was very tired and wasn't sure if he was going to go into work the next day. He had spoken to her earlier in the evening after she got a call from his concerned accountant saying the broadcaster didn't seem well.

He considered taking a sleeping pill but Ms Verwoerd warned him to be careful.

She also said she offered to go over and stay with him -- but he said he was already upstairs in bed and had locked the doors.

He then rang his series producer, Alice O'Sullivan, because they had an agreement that it was okay for him not to go into work -- but only if he rang her the night before and told her.

He woke her at midnight and left a message -- and when she called him back she told him to have a good rest over the weekend. She said there had been a vomiting bug outbreak in their office and she thought perhaps he had caught it.

It was a bank holiday weekend and he and his partner, Ms Verwoerd, were due to go to Athlone to an RTE event.

Ms Verwoerd said she became concerned when she didn't get a text from him on the Friday morning as he always contacted her first thing.

"The next morning I assumed he took the pill too late," she said, adding that she called to his apartment at 8.20am to find the chain on the door.

"But when I spoke to the programme (producers) I felt a little better."

She also said she felt relieved because she presumed he was getting much needed sleep.

However her concern grew as the time went on and she didn't hear back from him. She texted him numerous times, as well as calling 14 times.

After noon she returned and tried to open the door but couldn't so she called through the door to try and wake him.


She called her son, who joined her on Upper Leeson Street, and they attempted to remove the chain with a screwdriver.

Plumber Alan Paul was working three doors away and Ms Verwoerd told him they were locked out.

He tried to cut the chain but he had to return with a hacksaw before he got it open and let Ms Verwoerd and her son in.

She said she "had a moment of relief" when she saw Mr Ryan wasn't in bed.

"But then on the left I saw his feet, I noticed they were a strange colour. It looked like he rolled onto the floor and the bedding went with him."

She called the ambulance and attempted to revive him.

Aine Haughey, a paramedic, told how she checked for vital signs but found none.

"There were obvious signs of rigor mortis and blood was pooling." She said she connected him to the defibrillator, which is standard practice. "There was no cardiac activity," she added. Dr Farrell attempted to establish when Mr Ryan had died but said it was anywhere between six and twelve hours before he was found.

No one knows how long he lay alone.

Irish Independent

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