herald

Friday 24 November 2017

Family are focusing on 'fitting send-off'

Much-loved RTE icon's funeral set to take place on Thursday after delay. By Caitlin McBride

Arrangements for Gerry Ryan's funeral are expected to be revealed later today following a post-mortem examination.

As the bank holiday weekend prevented a post-mortem from taking place until today, the RTE star's family are preparing to begin saying their final goodbyes this evening.

Gerry's body will be returned to the Clontarf home where his children were raised later this evening, and his partner of 18 months Melanie Verwoerd has also been invited to attend his wake.

His estranged wife Morah and their five children, Lottie (24), Rex (20), Bonnie (17), Elliot (14) and Babette (10) are preparing to give him "a fitting send-off".

A source close to the family said: "Yesterday was the first day Morah and the kids had a chance to be by themselves and make the necessary plans for the funeral.

"They are, of course, all still extremely distraught but they are also determined to make sure Gerry gets a fitting send-off.

"They are reluctant to release any exact funeral details until they know they are definitely getting him home today but the plan is that the funeral will take place on Thursday."

The iconic broadcaster's funeral, which is being carried out by Stafford's Funeral Directors, is expected to take place at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf.

U2 and Westlife are expected to jet in for the "joyful celebration" of Gerry's life, as is Colin Farrell, Roger Moore and Chris Evans.

Hundreds of friends, fans and his RTE colleagues will be making their way towards North Dublin in the coming days for his funeral service.

"Planning is in the early stages but everyone is of the opinion that is should be full of music and joy -- a real celebration of Gerry's life," a family source revealed.

"He loved his partner, his family and his music, and all of this will be reflected in the ceremony. Gerry was passionate about music and that will definitely be reflected in the funeral."

However, his high profile has sparked concerns about security in the church as gardai are reportedly planning on erecting barriers in the area to keep the thousands of expected mourners at bay. "There's bound to be many people who felt like they knew Gerry and want to say a final goodbye to him -- but the family must be granted as much privacy as they wish for in the ceremony," said the source.

"So the challenge really is how to manage the funeral in relation to Gerry, the public figure, and Gerry, the father and family man. They have been gathering so much comfort from all the messages of support from people across the country, and the main focus now is on getting him home and planning the funeral.

"Giving Gerry the send-off he deserves is the main focus of the children now. They are full of ideas about poems, readings and songs that their father adored.

"There's also talk of a video or audio tribute with his best bits from over the years."

cmcbride@herald.ie

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