United in grief, the two women in Gerry's life

LOSS: Estranged wife Morah and girlfriend of two years Melanie are both feeling the same shock at the icon's untimely passing

Bairbre Power

THE two women in broadcaster Gerry Ryan's life are united in sorrow today following his untimely and sudden passing.

Estranged wife Morah called him Gerard, while his partner of two years Melanie Verwoerd called him Gerry.

Both women were today struggling to come to terms with his sudden death: his separated artist wife Morah (50), who he married in 1981; and his girlfriend Melanie Verwoerd (43), the former South African Ambassador and UNICEF Ireland boss who found him at his Leeson Street apartment.

The 26-year marriage of Gerry and Morah crumbled in March of 2008 -- much to the shock of the legions of Ryan's 2fm show listeners.

Some time after the couple announced the split, Gerry publicly stepped out with new love Melanie.


Soon the trio were inextricably thrown under an intense media spotlight after the Ryan's 26-year marriage broke up in March 2008.

The DJ wasn't comfortable with all the attention it attracted, but he was pragmatic and conceded: "I'm big and I'm bold and I can get through the latest publicity. But it's been difficult for my family so I'm living in the land of 'no comment'."

The Ryans' shock split attracted above-average attention because they were a golden couple on Ireland's social scene -- A-listers on the best party circuit.

RTE listeners, of course, felt they knew the Ryans.

Gerry was forever telling his 2fm morning audience about 'Mrs Ryan' and life in the Ryan household -- something that Morah didn't relish and, as a result, she never listened to her husband's radio show.

The country knew what a romantic Gerry was.

He had proposed to Morah Brennan just six weeks after they met , stealing a kiss the first night they met when he brought her out from a party to see kittens in the garden.

There were no clues that the Ryans' marriage was in trouble in June 2006 when Morah happily threw her husband a surprise 50th birthday, with 75 friends and family joining him at his favourite restaurant, Shanahan's on St Stephen's Green. That day -- June 5 -- was also the couple's 24th wedding anniversary; and although they reached their silver wedding anniversary, they had called it a day nine months later.

He met Melanie through her work with UNICEF.

She was the youngest woman elected to South Africa's first democratic parliament in 1994 and was very visible on the social scene after she was appointed executive director of UNICEF Ireland in 2007.

Separated like the Ryans, she has a 20-year-old daughter, Wilme, and a 17-year-old son, Wian; and counts broadcaster Marian Finucane as one of her closest Irish friends.

Morah's many friends had been delighted to see her out and about celebrating her 50th birthday last year.

A party was thrown by Caroline and Denis Desmond at their Killiney home. Morah is also back sculpting -- with looks that most 30-somethings would love to have.