Gerry Ryan, Irish broadcaster, dead at 53

By Irish Echo Staff

Gerry Ryan, the Irish broadcaster, has been found dead at his Dublin apartment. He was 53.

His long-running phone-in radio show "The Gerry Ryan Show" began on RTE in 1988. He presented several TV shows, including the Eurovision Song Contest that launched Riverdance in 1994.

Ryan reportedly told 2fm station managers on Thursday night that he felt unwell and would probably not do his show today . His body was found at his Upper Leeson Street apartment early in the afternoon. After a doctor examined the body, it was taken at 3:45 p.m from the apartment to an ambulance, which left accompanied by an unmarked Garda car. No cause of death has been released. Gardai have said that foul play is not suspected.

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President Mary McAleese paid tribute to Ryan, describing him as "an extraordinarily talented broadcaster whose unique communication skills and larger than life persona entertained and enlivened a national audience over many years".

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was "deeply saddened" to learn of Ryan's death. “Gerry was a household name and a broadcaster of immense talent and popularity,” he said. “His legion of fans will all be greatly shocked to hear this sad news."

Ryan was reportedly the highest paid earner on RTE television or radio channels after Pat Kenny. Last year, he refused to take a 10 percent pay cut by the station.

The north Dublin law graduate got his start in the late 1970s on pirate radio stations Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) and Big D, where he honed his flamboyant, in-your-face style.

Ryan was separated from his wife Morah. They had five children from ages 23 to 9. The couple made a pact never to discuss their marriage publicly.