Tuesday 22 October 2019

'They wouldn't have been happy apart' - Irish couple married for 65 years pass away within hours of each other

Máire and Gerry Ryan
Máire and Gerry Ryan

Kyle Ewald

An elderly couple, who were married for over 65 years, have passed away within hours of each other in Co Kildare.

Máire and Gerry Ryan, originally from Clonmel before moving to Newbridge, County Kildare, passed away surrounded by loving staff and nurses at the Curragh Lawn Nursing Home.

The 93-year-olds were born one day apart in 1924 in Clonmel, and began dating at 17 while attending school together.

The couple married at age 26 and Gerry joined the army and served in the Defence Force, later becoming a staff member at AnCo and FAS, while Máire pursued a career in education.

Assistant Director of Nursing Saritha Binumon told Independent.ie that the couple “filled the nursing home with so much love and affection for the 13 months they were here.”

“I’ve never seen so much dedication between a couple in my life, really the whole staff are heartbroken,” said Binumon. “At the same time, though, I’m happy for them, I don’t think they would be able to be happy without each other.”

The two moved into Curragh Lawn Nursing home after Gerry’s mobility deteriorated and he could no longer care for Máire’s alzheimer's without assistance.

“Gerry was so devoted to Máire, he would read her poetry and sing songs every afternoon and re-tell her stories of their life and travels together every evening," Ms Binumon said.

“Gerry was always telling all the staff how smart his wife was too, he was so proud of her. We all learned so much from their relationship and lost two great people.”

The loving couple were very found of Irish poetry and history and were known for teaching foreign staff about their country’s history and language.

“I never knew anything about Irish politics or history before I met Gerry. I learned more in five minutes from him than all of the time I spent in Ireland before knowing him,” said Ms Binumon.

Education and life-long learning were also strong passions of the couple, leading Gerry to pursue a PhD at the University College, Maynooth after his retirement.

"Gerry always said that he wouldn't have gotten his PhD without Máire, she really helped achieve all his accomplishments."

The Ryans are survived by their daughter Geraldine Parker, grandchildren Alan and Sarah, and Máire's sisters Eithne Symes and Una Power.

The grandparents were reposed today at Anderson and Leahy’s Funeral Home, Newbridge and the removal will be held tomorrow followed by Mass at St. Conleth’s Parish Church, Newbridge at 11am.

The couple’s family have asked for any donations to be made to the Alzhiemer Society of Ireland, Kildare branch.

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