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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Morah carefully pinned a ribbon to celebrate her time with Gerry

She preferred to eschew the limelight, but the nation got to know 'Mrs Ryan' through the doting husband who loved her so dearly, writes Jerome Reilly

Morah Ryan stood beneath the wisteria vine embracing the front door of her home and carefully pinned a purple ribbon that would serve as a wreath for her beloved husband.

No sombre black for her. It was clear that the bright silken bow was a call to celebrate Gerry's life rather than mourn his death.

Then her friends who had arrived at the Clontarf home to share the burden of grief came out to join her and there was touching embrace with Gerry's dearest friend Dave Fanning and hugs with members of her family.

For years, Morah eschewed the limelight and cringed at the thought of Gerry talking about her on his radio show -- so much so that she rarely listened to her husband's daily addresses to the nation.

Yet through him we got to know her -- "Mrs Ryan", as he insisted in calling her, and their clan of five beloved children; Charlotte, 24, Rex, 20, Bonnie, 17, Elliot, 14, and Babette, 10.

We got to know the ups and downs of the Ryan family in all its intimate detail. And they were the same worries, concerns and absurdities that affect all families. It was one of the reasons why Gerry Ryan was loved by the women of a nation.

He was a 21-year-old law student when they met. She was an artistic and beautiful waif four years his junior and on his part at least, it was love at first sight. "I saw my wife before I met her -- this extraordinarily radiant woman, probably the most beautiful creature I had ever seen."

Their love blossomed when they were invited to the same dinner party.

"I remember holding her hand underneath the table and it was just like touching a high-voltage cable. It was nothing to do with sex. It was instant falling in love. I remember she was wearing a floating white muslin dress.

"She didn't look like any woman I had ever met or even seen before. I held her hand under the table and I remember thinking: This. Is. It."

He proposed to her six weeks after they met.

Pat Kenny recalled this weekend how the two were flat broke when they got married. "Going on holiday penniless at the time in Crete, they spent their honeymoon with me. God help them!"

In the latter years they enjoyed the trappings of fame and money. For Gerry's 50th birthday, Morah threw a lavish surprise party in Shanahan's on the Green.

In fact, it was Gerry's own honesty about the ups and downs of family life that created the strong bond with his female audience.

In the final years of their marriage, Ryan revealed: "Morah still seems like a girlfriend to me. . . she's a constant source of surprise."

When lawyers of the couple announced their split in March 2008, Gerry moved out of the family's period home on Castle Avenue, Clontarf.

It was an incredibly painful period for both of them, but they remained on good terms. The last two years had healed some of the wounds but a deep sadness remained for both of them.

"I don't see my marriage as a failure," Morah said.

She added: "You don't walk away from somebody after 30 years.

"Two people don't -- that's like a lifetime -- do that without a lot of thought. And when there are so many people involved."

Sunday Independent

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