1st May 2010
Gerry Ryan died yesterday. And it’s the first time I have felt remotely homesick since I arrived here. It’s a strange thing, that need to get into a huddle with your own when something like this happens. Maybe it’s an impulse to be reminded that you are still living, breathing. Anyway, I phoned some friends in Dublin and, sure enough, they were all gathered in Grogans pub, obeying that same impulse.
For those of you who never heard of Gerry Ryan he was a national radio, and sometimes TV, broadcaster in Ireland. Some felt he was a national, if very irreverant, treasure while others couldn’t abide the sound of his voice. Either way, he stood out head and shoulders above anyone else on air. He dared to break boundaries: scatalogical, social and political.
He understood women, and talked many of them through major crises on his daily morning radio programme. He could switch from outrageous slagging to full-hearted empathy in a finely-judged flash. And he challenged his listeners to think beyond the box, to never accept the obvious. He ranted, he raved and he gleefully subverted.
There was a huge outpouring of grief on Irish radio today. Because love or loathe him, you could never ignore Gerry. He was part of our culture. Reflected back to us who we are. Was there to listen and was not afraid to challenge what he felt was unjust or support the energies of those who gave it a go. And he knew when to take the piss – was a master at it.
If he was alive now to read what I’ve just written he would probably say: ‘That’s a load of old shite”. And that would be the start of an exhilarating conversation.