There were a lot of things that people didn’t predict were going to happen before the curtain went up on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Few thought Ireland would claim its third victory with the two rock’n’roll kids and nearly bankrupt RTÉ. And even fewer thought that Riverdance would become one of the biggest shows in the world.
But, there’s one thing that I can guarantee that no one predicted – Gerry Ryan’s untimely death. Ireland lost one of its most beloved broadcasters on Friday at the young age of 53. Hosting the contest with Cynthia Ní Mhurchu that night in the point was one of the highlights of a glittering career.
He died exactly sixteen years after that night in Dublin when he oversaw the proceedings that brought Ireland its record breaking three in a row and an internationally famous dance act. Both of which helped to boost the spirits of the Irish people, something which Gerry managed to do on a daily basis on his morning radio show. It is sad to think that on the 16th anniversary of the 1994 contest the man who was so dear to so many people left this world.
His generosity and personable manner came across on his many radio and television programmes. The top brass of Irish broadcasting paid tribute to him on a Late Late Show special, the very night of his death. Both Pat Kenny (1988 Eurovision host) and Ryan Tubridy (2010 national final host) talked about him with a sadness only matched by their love for the man.
Some of his closest friends and colleagues spoke about his relationship with his family. They painted a clear picture of a man who lived for his children and would do anything for them. It’s hard to find someone who has touched so many people in such a profound way. Even in his death he continues to bring emotion and joy to the people of Ireland.
It’s almost impossible to measure the sum of a person’s life, but one way, which was the main theme of the film, Bucket list, was that you “can measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.” If that is the case then the sum of the late Gerry Ryan’s life is too big for anyone to ever fully comprehend.