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Priest's touching tribute to our voice of the nation

FATHER Brian D'Arcy today paid tribute to "the voice of a nation" at the funeral Mass of broadcaster Gerry Ryan.

Fr D'Arcy, who had earlier said prayers in the Ryan family home before the final journey to the Church of St John The Baptist in Clontarf, delivered a homily at the funeral mass which paid tribute to Gerry's deep sense of justice and compassion.

He told the congregation that the broadcaster, who he described as "the voice of a nation" was a spiritual man and had held long discussions about the nature of life with Fr D'Arcy, the priest revealed.

"Gerry had his difficulties with the institutional Church as we all have," he said.

He was an "exceptionally good parent" to his children and a compassionate man. "He had a heart as big as a mountain," he said.

Fr D'Arcy said that Gerry had his struggles in life but he "never gave up" on those struggles. He did more good than people will ever know and not just through his radio show or as a parent, he added.

He was "always looking out for people". He fought for justice, he said.

The priest said Gerry had invented a new language of compassion that had not been around before. The people's reaction to his death "took the world by surprise".

The priest said he had never seen such a reaction to the death of a modern icon.

Gerry was "something special" in the minds of the people of Ireland.

He paid tribute to his courage, his sense of justice, and his use of a language that everyone understood.

Gerry Ryan gave faith to people, brought hope to people, and "he was not afraid to love".