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LIFE, LOVES and death of GERRY

In life, he was a genius broadcaster who entertained the masses, a beloved father who adored his family and a middle-aged man who'd found love with a feisty professional woman.

In death, Gerry Ryan has emerged as a troubled figure who was using illegal drugs into his 50s and was desperately worried about his financial situation.

Once the shock of his sudden passing had worn off, Gerry's death become the tale of two women -- the one who loved him for decades of marriage and the one who loved him at the time he died.

Now a new book is going to reopen deep wounds. One woman is writing the book about her life and keeping a promise to her former love. The other has sworn not to read it.

Melanie Verwoerd says she was inspired to write her life story by two men -- Nelson Mandela and Gerry Ryan -- and that the broadcaster made her promise to write it.

True to her promise, Melanie has penned her memoir When We Dance, which will hit the bookstores on Wednesday.

Her publisher, Liberties Press, emphasises the author's role as a human rights campaigner and former South African Ambassador to Ireland.

For the Irish public, however, the key interest will be her account of her relationship with the larger-than-life broadcaster who chose to spend the last two years of his life with Melanie.

She has previously spoken at length of the morning she was forced to break into his apartment to discover him dead in his bedroom.

But the finer details of her life and the happier times she spent with Gerry remain largely untold.



SILENT

The book will also undoubtedly focus renewed interest in Morah Ryan, the woman Gerry loved for so many years, with whom he had five children and to whom he remained married.

Morah, in contrast to Melanie, has chosen to remain silent about her relationship with the man she says she loved from "the moment I set eyes on him".

She is reputed to have turned down several opportunities to earn hundreds of thousands by publishing her own memoirs of her life with Gerry. Friends say she never considered such a move.

In her only interview during an RTE documentary about Gerry's life she paid a moving tribute to her late husband's dedication to the couple's children -- Lottie (27), Rex (23), Bonnie (19), Elliott (16) and Babette (12).

Whatever troubles Gerry may have had in the later years of his life, his absolute dedication to his children was constant.

Friends say Morah fears the book will re-open old wounds at a time when her children are still coping with the loss of their dad.

Melanie had only the briefest of visits to say her last goodbyes to Gerry when he was waked in the family home in Clontarf. Later, at the inquest into his death, it was Morah who was clearly his next of kin and Melanie, who although she had arrived first, waited until Morah was seated before taking her own seat at the opposite side of the Coroner's Court.

The medical evidence revealing that Gerry had cocaine in his system at the time of his death must have brought Melanie to one of her lowest moments. He had promised her he would never use drugs. She slumped, visibly shocked as this evidence emerged, while Morah remained composed with her emotions hidden from the huge media presence in the court.

Melanie did not attend Gerry's first anniversary Mass and later said she had not been invited.



Struggle

The book purports to be a "candid" tale of her life with Gerry but also with her struggle since his death and her high-profile departure from UNICEF Ireland.

Her publisher says Melanie's "tramautic process of mourning" Gerry's death, was "made so much more difficult by the unprecedented public and media interest in their relationship".

It has taken the more than two years since his death in April 2010 for that interest to wane.

It would seem that Melanie, in deciding to publish the story of their time together, is trying to set some kind of record straight.

Friends say she only wants the opportunity to defend the broadcaster.However, in doing so she will be thrust right back into the spotlight.

It will stir up, once again, the public appetite for more information about Gerry Ryan and his life.

'When We Dance', published by Liberties Press, is available from October 10, priced €17.99


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