Tributes have been paid to former Fianna Fail councillor Ger Ryan, who served on both Nenagh UDC and North Tipperary County Council.
The fruit and vegetable merchant from Mitchel Street spent over 30 years serving the people of Nenagh, He was chair of Nenagh Urban District Council, which later became Nenagh Town Council, in 1973/74, 1977/78, 1981/82, and 1989/90. Mr Ryan served on the county council twice, being first elected in 1974 and holding on to his seat in 1979. He failed to get elected in 1985 and 1991.
At his funeral Mass in St Mary of the Rosary this Monday, Fr Des Hillary, PP, and Killaloe diocesan administrator, drew on the theme of Ni neart le cur le cheile - that strength is very much in the family and the community.
“Nenagh has a strong community and a strong sense of identity, but Mitchel Street has an even stronger association and identity within the town,” he said. “It was there Ger was born, reared, and, he said to me, would be buried from.”
Fr Hillary said Mr Ryan, who was 91, was a vital part of that community and was always proud of his roots and of being a Nenagh person.
“He was also involved in the greater picture that is our nation so that this country would be a better place and a stronger Ireland than the one he was born into,” said Fr Hillary.
Reflecting on the Easter story, Fr Hillary said that while Ger died in the shadow of the empty tomb, and while his wife Peg, will feel the emptiness of his going, “may the story of Easter carry you like we are sustained by the great message of Easter: He has risen”.
Mr Ryan’s son, Joe, on behalf of the family, said that his father’s life could have been so different after their house on Mitchel burned down in 1929 and he was lucky to escape.
In the 1940s, his father joined the British RAF and was posted to the Middle East and the Balkans.
“He came home in the 1950s and by accident his doctor thought he did not look well. He was later diagnosed with TB and survived the sanatorium in Roscrea,” he said.
Recalling how his father was once a smoker and liked a drink, Joe said that he gave both of them up and took up politics instead, spending over 30 years on the town and county council.
“He was most proud of being the driving force behind the installation of the three statues to Nenagh’s Olympians in the courthouse,” he said.
Referring to his father’s recent illness, he praised his mother and sister, Florence, for the care they had given Ger.
“I have no doubt that their care prolonged his life,” he said.
Tributes were paid to Mr Ryan by his former town council colleague Maire Hoctor, who said he was “an exemplary citizen. He had an innate sense of civic duty which he lived out himself to the full in his participation in public life.”
The former Junior Minister and TD said that Ger was a hard and committed worker for the people whom he served as a diligent public representive.
Mr Ryan, who was predeceased by his grandson Conor, is survived by his wife,Peg; sons Joe, Philip, Paul; daughters Majella and Florence; sister Nancy Hayes (Dublin); grandchildren Eoin, Orla and Aine, daughters-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, extended family, cousins, relatives and friends.
Following his funeral Mass in St Mary of the Rosary he was laid to rest in Lisboney Old Cemetery.