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Aoibhinn gives Ryan strength to carry on

Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain was a tower of strength for Ryan Tubridy as he paid a final tribute to his old pal Gerry Ryan yesterday.

The couple faced the full glare of the media for the first time in their year-long relationship.

As Gerry’s body was taken to his final resting place yesterday, the normally composed Ryan finally felt the toll of a week of immense heartbreak catch up on him.

Fighting back the tears, Ryan finally crumbled as Gerry’s body was taken from the church to Dardistown Cemetery.

As Ryan (36) fought to keep his composure, Aoibhinn (27) moved in and provided strength for her man.

Gerry’s nearest and dearest marked his passing with a lavish post-funeral event at the Shelbourne Hotel.

His heartbroken pals and family remained true to the memory of the bon viveur with a sumptuous buffet lunch with free drinks.

The entire ballroom of the venue, which normally stages awards events and weddings, was booked out to make sure there would be enough room.

No expense was spared as an estimated 200 of the 53-yearold's closest family and pals came together to celebrate his memory and toast his life.

And dignified estranged wife Morah, who expressed her sympathies to Gerry’s partner Melanie Verwoerd during his Mass, made sure the Unicef boss was included as the two women united in their grief.

“She wanted it to be all-inclusive and have everyone there who meant something to him.

Melanie stayed for a good while chatting with everyone but is obviously devastated about Gerry’s passing, just like Morah,” said an onlooker.

“His family wanted Gerry to have a proper send-off and there could easily have been €20,000 spent on making sure it was a no-holds-barred affair. It was a lovely way to mark his passing, he would have loved it.”


The invitation list read like a who’s who of Irish society.

Among those were most of RTE’s biggest names including Joe Duffy, Ryan Tubridy, Grainne and Sile Seoige, Marty Whelan and John Kelly.

Other attendees included Denis Desmond with wife Caroline Downey, Adele King with daughter Naomi, celeb agent Noel Kelly, restaurateur Ronan Ryan as well as charity queen Jackie Rafter.

There was also one of Gerry’s best pals, businessman Harry Crosbie, who was shaken by the emotional impact of the day.

He came into the hotel with a walking stick and at times had to leave the church in Clontarf when it all got too much.

Adele King, aka Twink, revealed how she had checked herself out of Mount Carmel hospital to attend his funeral and was still sporting bandages on her wrists.

“I couldn’t not say goodbye to Gerry. He was a pillar of support to me. He used to phone me three times a day to see how I was doing,” she said.

“He has been a rock and said, ‘I’ll phone you every day until you’re out’. The last time I was talking to him, I said, ‘Gerry I just want to say thank you’, and he said, ‘for what? You would do it for me’. When he phoned me, he was debating whether or not to go to The Gate that evening.

“I asked him who his date was for the night and when he told me Dave Kavanagh, I said times must be tough. He seemed so happy and full of life.”

RTE presenter Marty Whelan, his neighbour in Clontarf, said how he was feeling terribly low after the funeral.


“The whole thing was just so full of emotion, I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

Broadcaster Joe Duffy said that the tribute given to him, especially from his family, was especially moving.

“If Gerry’s love for his family could ever have been reciprocated, it was today,” he said.

Today FM broadcaster Ray D’Arcy, who was there with his partner Jenny Kelly, echoed Joe’s comments. “He was a larger than life character,” he said.