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Gerry's death 'leaves ache at the heart' of RTE

The death of Gerry Ryan has left an emptiness in his station that will be impossible to fill, a grief-stricken colleague said yesterday.

Presenter Pat Kenny said there was an ache at the heart of RTE after the sudden loss of his friend.

Ryan, 53, was found dead on the floor of his bedroom on Friday in the Dublin flat he moved into after splitting with his wife Morah.

A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out today to establish the cause of the father of five's death, which gardai are not treating as suspicious.

Opening his show on RTE Radio One, Kenny said staff could not take pleasure in the glorious Bank Holiday sunshine.

"I'm still shell-shocked at the sudden and premature death of my dear friend and colleague Gerry Ryan," he told listeners.

"There's a sort of an ache at the heart of everything we do in here.

"It's an emptiness which will be impossible to fill."

Kenny paid tribute to Ryan, whom he called the giant of Irish broadcasting.

He said his colleague was a true original who was fearless, perceptive and intelligent.

"He saw his principal role to entertain, to add to the gaiety of this nation and whenever I was finding the going a bit tough, he could always raise my spirits and always raise my game," continued Kenny.

"He was no saint, nor would he want that said, but I'm happy for my part to canonise him in the hierarchy of broadcasting greats," he added, before playing the Beatles song Golden Slumbers.

Ryan, an often controversial DJ, was given his popular eponymous chat show on 2FM in 1988 and went on to become a household name, attracting a daily audience of more than 300,000 listeners.

Over the years he also hosted several television series including Secrets, Ryantown, Gerry Ryan Tonight, Gerry Ryan's Hitlist, Ryan Confidential and Operation Transformation.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalised for the presenter, who announced the separation from his wife in March 2008 after 26 years of marriage.

About 4,000 people signed books of condolence over the weekend at the capital's RTE Radio studios, including Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin and former taoiseach Albert Reynolds.

It has been moved to the Mansion House, the official residence of lord mayor of Dublin Emer Costello, where fans can pay their respects to the outspoken DJ until Wednesday.

The lord mayor said her heart went out to Mr Ryan's family and his partner, Melanie Verwoerd.

"So many people are just in shock. He was part of the fabric of the nation," she said.

Tributes have poured in for Ryan from political leaders, friends and former colleagues.

U2 frontman Bono described Ryan as Ireland's weathervane.

"I don't know how the country can fill this hole that's left," the rock star said.

"Any room was brighter when he was in it."

© Press Association