'Mick is our strength,' says Co Clare family of Ethiopian Airlines plane crash victim
The sole Irish victim of a doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on take-off earlier this year is still here in spirit, say his heartbroken family.
Michéal 'Mick' Ryan, a native of Lahinch, Co Clare, was among 149 passengers and eight crew members on board the Boeing 737 Max aeroplane that crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10.
The 39-year-old father of two was due to celebrate his 40th birthday in Rome with his wife Naoise Ryan just a fortnight after the tragedy.
But speaking on RTÉ Radio One's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' yesterday, his widow said she believes the spirit of her late husband is still very much with her and his beloved family.
"He's around us all the time," she said. "He's telling us to keep going. For me, he's there all the time. He's our strength."
His mother Christine Ryan, who made a pilgrimage to the crash site five days after the tragedy, also said she felt the spirit of her son was at the site, reassuring her.
"I felt he had a certain sense of peace even though the area [crash site] was traumatic," she said. "I spoke to him and it really helped me."
The family said unsubstantiated media reports last week claiming that all of the victims of the crash had been identified through DNA samples was very upsetting.
There is still no official confirmation that all of the crash victims have been identified.
The false hope of finally being able to put the UN aid worker and civil engineer to rest had been an emotional roller coaster ride, said Mr Ryan's family.
Christine said she never imagined her son would meet an untimely death by taking a routine flight.
He had witnessed an earthquake while in Afghanistan, had worked with people battling the deadly Ebola virus and had been to dangerous hotspots around the world.