Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan’s mother, Mary, died after the “horror of a tragic accident” on Inishbofin Island on a much-anticipated holiday during which she was due to return to her native Bantry Bay in Co Cork, her funeral has heard.
Prayers were said for the staff of the Inishbofin House Hotel at their funeral service on Saturday morning at St Joseph’s Church in Sandycove, County Dublin, where “dedicated Catholic” Mrs Ryan attended Mass regularly.
Green Party leader Mr Ryan and his siblings John, Robert and Marion took turns delivering emotional tributes to their mother, whose 86″.
President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Vardakar and Attorney General Paul Gallagher were among those in attendance.
Fighting back tears, Mr Ryan told the mourners: “We would have liked to have said ‘We love you’ one more time. But as someone said in the last few days: “She already knew that”.
“Such love is never lost and does not fade away.”
Mr Ryan said his mum and dad Bob – “an artistic, spiritually loving man” who also died in 2017 aged 86 – met while colleagues at Munster and Leinster Bank on Dame Street in Dublin met. Their love “was the cornerstone of our lives,” he said.
Although Ms Ryan missed her native West Cork, she “always said the people of Dublin are the decentest people you could meet”.
She was the “last generation of Irish women to have had to quit their jobs to get married,” but her business acumen lingered after she was a director at Mr Ryan’s bike touring business and sold her husband’s paintings to gift shops across the country during the bank strike.
She also played a “huge role” in his father’s “outstanding career,” he added.
Mr Ryan got the gathering laughing as he recounted one of his fondest memories of his mother sitting at the bottom of the stairs as a child and listening to her talk to friends on the phone.
“The only thing we could hear was her encouraging running comment on the other person’s story: ‘No.. no.. no.. you don’t say.. no.. no.. tell me’.
“We didn’t understand then how much such listening means. Her words of wisdom and support for close friends were her tools of the trade.”
Thanking the dignitaries for showing up, John Ryan said the Ryans are “by default a political family” because of his brother Eamon, but added that “politics is a big part of family”.
“The last few days have been very difficult for us,” he said. “This death came as a complete surprise to our very healthy, alive mother.”
His mother was adventurous and inquiring, excelled at school and “could have excelled in any career in another era – but the priorities of Irish society in the 1940s and 1950s were not along those lines.”
Describing his mother as a “natural mom who is devoted to her family,” Robert Ryan apologized for his upset, adding, “Mom would be happy I’m crying by the way.”
“Although we put her to rest this week – a week in which we learned she was turning 86 – we find little comfort in her long life. She wasn’t ready to leave the crime scene and we certainly weren’t ready to let her go,” he said.
“To us, she was a fun, energetic, forward-thinking, curious woman who was an integral part of all of our lives. We expected it to remain so for many years to come and we’re struggling to come to terms with what happened.
“We miss her terribly and the emptiness will be felt for many years to come.”
Marion Ryan said her mum was “so excited” to go to Inishbofin and “then to her beloved West Cork” last weekend.
“Life brought her last Tuesday, a great day, full of evening dinner plans and a very keen interest in taking part in a local pub quiz. It shouldn’t be,” she said.
“Even through the horror of a tragic accident, we find comfort that her beautiful granddaughter Isabella was so close and her calm and loving hands were on mum, followed very soon, as always, by Robert and Eamon.
“We’re lucky that we were with Mama as she slipped so peacefully into the next world,” she said.