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Joy turns to tears as news of Gerry spreads

LEINSTER rugby fans have reacted in complete shock as the news of beloved broadcaster Gerry Ryan's sudden death spreads across Toulouse.

The Clontarf father-of-five was a staunch Leinster supporter and regularly spoke of his love for the team, attending most games both at home and abroad.

As details of his death reached the French city, dozens of shocked fans were eager to share their fond memories of the popular TV and radio presenter with the Herald.

Devastated Maeve Farrell, who is friendly with Mr Ryan's children, admitted she still can't believe the news.

"I'm from Clontarf so I know his kids. My sister was in school with Lottie. My dad texted me to tell me and I thought it was a joke. I couldn't believe it.

"As soon as I got that text I rang my boyfriend at home and he checked online but there was nothing about it up at that stage except Miriam O'Callaghan confirming on Twitter that it was true.

"He was too young to die and you know he had a lot of highs and lows recently from the break-up of his marriage to the success of Operation Transformation. It's just so hard to believe.

"If something goes wrong in Ireland, people ring Gerry Ryan.

"I can't imagine not hearing him on the radio every morning.

"It would be really lovely if the team get past Toulouse today just because it would be great to have some positive news this weekend.

"Sport is what people turn to in times of hardship.

"I'm sure the team are definitely in shock just like anyone else," she added.

Helena Knox from Kilkenny told how she has been a regular listener of Gerry's 2FM show since she was a small child.

"When we heard rumours first I just didn't believe it until I rang home to check. We're really shocked. He is so well known, someone we've all grown up with over the years.

"I remember he was big into Leinster rugby so it's a very sad start to the weekend to hear such a high-profile fan has died.

"He has young children and my heart goes out to them. It would be lovely if the team makes some reference to him maybe because he was a celebrity in Ireland who backed Leinster rugby all his life.

"I think the team must be shocked as well, probably even more so than the fans, because a lot of them would have had close encounters with Gerry over the course of their careers. I'm sure even some of them know him on a personal level so I'm sure it has affected them," said Helena.

Sam Troughton-Smith from Lucan, who knew Mr Ryan from her time working in his local bank, said her eyes filled with tears as she heard the news of Gerry's passing. "I have very fond memories of him. He was a lovely guy and just so charismatic. It is impossible to believe."

Ryan Tubridy's shocked brother Garrett, who works for the European Rugby Cup, declined to comment on the death of their close family friend.