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Anna Nolan: What was the point, Melanie? Your Gerry revelations were too soon, to raw, to self-serving

Gerry Ryan always made clear that his ultimate goal in all his broadcasting commitments was to fulfil the remit of public service broadcasting -- to entertain, to inform and to educate.

I wonder if he would have felt any of those were part of the interview with Melanie Verwoerd and Marian Finucane on Saturday morning on RTE Radio 1.

Finucane, in the past, has landed some monumental interviews. The most memorable one, for me, being the interview with Nuala O'Faolain, her close friend who was dying with cancer. It was engaging, depressing, honest and full of the challenges of life. It made me feel alive, which is the saddest element of it because O'Faolain was nearing the end of her life. And boy was she mad about that!

Melanie Verwoerd, also a very close friend of Finucane, came on her show on Saturday morning for two reasons she told us -- she wanted the intrusion by the media to stop, therefore she was willing to go into their relationship, and she wanted to reveal the real Gerry Ryan.

I felt that this was going to be difficult listening, but I tuned in because I wanted to understand why Melanie was doing this.

Her voice trembled at the top of the interview, obviously the loss still being enormous for her to deal with, and she sounded like a woman who was at the very early stages of dealing with grief.

Listening to her talk about finding Gerry Ryan's body was incredibly uncomfortable radio and one could understand the trauma she must have gone through, along with her son who was by her side.

She recounted the movements of the morning -- getting into Gerry's apartment, going through the rooms, having a feeling that something wasn't right, seeing his feet on the floor and finally her son telling the 999 person on the phone that there was no use them trying to revive him.

Finding someone's body must leave an indelible mark on the soul. The seconds leading up to that brutal reality must haunt you forever.


I remember someone telling me that one can always remember, vividly, the moments leading up to hearing about someone's death. Those images become heightened, because in that time life is normal -- seconds later it changes forever. The brain turns up the technicolor level just before everything goes grey.

Melanie mentioned the stress she has been under because of the intrusion by the press. People doorstepping her, going through her rubbish bins -- all the usual tacky procedures by those who want to find the dirt and dish it.

Finally, she spoke about the man she loved. She talked at ease about his children and how they were the most important things in his life. She talked about their love -- an intellectual, happy, low-key love. No crazy nights out, no early mornings partying, just good old fashioned talk and wonderful company for each other.

There was one person missing from this interview.

And that was Morah Ryan.

Melanie said that the first time she had met Morah was after Gerry's death, and no more was said of her.

And just as Melanie was almost peripheral at the funeral of Gerry Ryan, so was Morah excluded from the first interview about the broadcaster.

As the talk between Marian and Melanie ended, I was left with one overwhelming feeling - what was the point?

I think subconsciously she simply wanted to tell the public that she loved Gerry with all her heart and she missed him more than she could cope with.

The one line that stays in my head from the interview is when she said: "I don't have anybody to tell my stories to at the moment, which is what I did to Gerry".

Sometimes a good story is about when you tell it, rather than why you tell it.

It seemed too soon, too raw and too self serving.

This story is sad, tragic and one day in the future it will inform us, educate us and, no doubt, entertain us.