Tragic star on €600,000 was borrowing cash from his friends
FEW of those who knew him well were shocked by the news that cocaine probably triggered the heart attack that killed Gerry Ryan.
Most of them were more surprised by inspired leaks shortly after his death last April, claiming that toxicology tests from the autopsy had shown no traces of cocaine.
It was a disingenuous lie no matter how well intentioned and it only added embarrassment to the sorrow of those who loved him most.
When the news from the inquest broke at lunchtime yesterday, text messages and emails were exchanged just as they were at lunchtime on April 30, when his body was discovered. It was the most talked about water-cooler topic yesterday and everyone wanted to know more of the details emerging from Dublin City Coroner's Court.
The late Gerry Ryan's unnerving instinct for what people want to gossip about would have meant his own inquest would have filled most of his three-hour show on Monday.
He would have looked up the meaning of the coroner's verdict "Death by misadventure", ORIGIN Middle English, from Old French mesaventure, from mesavenir 'turn out badly.'
And even Gerry Ryan couldn't have argued that his misadventures with narcotics did turn out badly -- and left a swathe of sorrow in its wake.
Five children without a father, extended families distraught and the equivalent of two widows picking up the pieces of their lives.
Like most cocaine users, Gerry Ryan only spoke about his secret pleasurable vice with others who shared it -- and when he did talk about it in public, he was neutral, neither approving nor disapproving. For such an intelligent man, he avoided the obvious truths about the regular use of cocaine: it warps judgement, distorts personality and maxes out credit cards.
And while cocaine probably caused his death, according to the coroner, it didn't dominate his life -- although it must have added to the three major causes of the stress that accelerated the decline of his health.
Those who knew him well could see his health was failing as his anxiety levels were rising.
Money, family and career worries dogged Gerry Ryan in the year before he died. He had borrowed money from friends, he told reporters about calls from his bank manager about repaying loans and was negotiating a marriage separation.
An estranged wife and the upkeep of his five children had to be paid for, along with supporting a millionaire lifestyle with his new partner. It could not be easily accommodated even with his annual payment of €600,000 from RTE and he regularly despaired about his financial crisis.
Wealthy friends were both generous and kind, helping him with accommodation, support and advice ... but the square could not be circled financially or emotionally. He was angry at RTE limiting his sick leave, although contractors earning over €600,000 should not be surprised when they threatened with their pay being cut for time not served.