| 4.7°C Dublin

Melanie's poignant blossom tribute to Gerry


Bouquet left by Melanie on Gerry's Herbert Park bench. Photo: Ray Cullen

Bouquet left by Melanie on Gerry's Herbert Park bench. Photo: Ray Cullen

Bouquet left by Melanie on Gerry's Herbert Park bench. Photo: Ray Cullen

MELANIE Verwoerd marked the third anniversary of her late partner Gerry Ryan's death yesterday by placing a bunch of pink cherry blossoms on a memorial bench in Herbert Park, Dublin.

She was not among friends of the late RTE star at a memorial Mass but chose to visit the bench dedicated to his memory in Donnybrook's Herbert Park.

Melanie (46) placed a simple bouquet of cherry blossoms and a white satin ribbon entwined at its base, early yesterday.

Friends close to the former South African ambassador said she had been unaware of a Mass in Clontarf, which was attended by Gerry 's wife Morah and children. The former UNICEF boss was said to be "too upset" by the anniversary to make any public comment yesterday. However, in her 2012 memoir When We Dance, Melanie had revealed that in the midst of his financial problems in 2010, she and Gerry had promised to laugh about their troubles the following year under a cherry blossom tree in their garden.

"I reminded Gerry that even in the darkest times there is beauty around us and I assured him that the horrible time he was going through will also pass.

"Then we made a promise: next spring, when the cherry blossom tree flowers again, we will have champagne under the tree, laugh about the difficult times of 2010 and celebrate a new future. The cherry blossoms will forever remind me of Gerry."

However, tragically, just two days later, she found him dead in his apartment.

A spokesperson for the Ryan family said that "no one" had been invited to the service in Clontarf and that the 10am Mass – where a funeral was also taking place – "had not been for Gerry". The priest led prayers for Gerry during the funeral Mass of a local 97-year-old woman.


Impresario Moya Doherty and her partner John McColgan, as well as actor Joe Taylor and hotelier John Fitzpatrick, shared two pews with the Ryan family in the church.

Afterwards, Ms Doherty said: "It's just lovely to take a moment out to reflect, to reflect on a very special life and a special man." Mr McColgan added: "It was a lovely service and the priest handled it very well. And it was nice to sit with Gerry's family and remember him."

Morah Ryan walked from the church arm in arm with family friend and PR guru Joanne Byrne, who indicated that Morah and the family did not wish to make any comment.

Meanwhile, Gerry's friend and successor on 2fm, Ryan Tubridy, stressed on air yesterday how his "thoughts were with Gerry and his beautiful children".

He added: "I know lots of you will text or email in and you'll add at the end of your email something about Gerry, or how you miss him, or are thinking about him, or you're not as good as him.

"But I totally get it... he's always here with us and he's always in this station. He casts a long shadow and a very welcome one. We often say when we're having a meeting, 'That was so Gerry'."