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Thursday 23 November 2017

I know there'll never be another like Gerry Ryan

YOU could never believe the fun you could have with Gerry Ryan. He could turn absolutely anything into a five-minute routine which would have you on the floor.

His favourite word was 'spoofer' -- because he was the biggest spoofer in the world.

You never stopped him though, because he included you in the story and always made you look great.

Let's be honest about this. Gerry could be a bollocks, too. No question about that. He was self-centred in many ways.

At the same time, he could be incredibly generous.

He liked the best things in life. Gerry Ryan. Bigger. Bolder. Brasher.

He didn't think he was to the manor born, but if it was there, and there was an opportunity to take it, he would.

We often holidayed together and I remember once staying with him in Disneyland in the most amazing hotel.

While we were there I remember Gerry pointing up at this tower in the sky, saying "that's where Donald Trump stays . . . that's where we're staying next year".

But the funny thing about Gerry was he never wanted to be 'the next Gay Byrne' or even a big star.

I met him about 1978 in a pirate radio station called 'Big D' in Dublin. What drew us together was, unlike the other DJs, we'd been to college, Gerry in Trinity and me in UCD.

When RTE started 2fm the following year, all the pirate DJs applied, hundreds of them. Someone must have liked us because we both got jobs.

Gerry was given a Saturday show and then an evening slot next to mine. Along with Mark Cagney, we were the night-time guys on 2fm and it turned us into stars for a little while.

The way I see this business, something like that is akin to getting left a lot of money. You get an opportunity and if you don't blow it, you can continue to have a great life.

Bill O'Donovan in RTE was the one who decided Gerry should move to daytime in 1988. I really didn't want our night-time gang broken up. I was also worried the Irish public wouldn't be able for the kind of surreal 'Monty Python' madness Gerry did in the morning.

I was wrong. They took to Gerry in their droves. In the first few months he interviewed a guy who was supposedly underground in a coffin, but who was actually in the studio with him eating a banana. But no one copped.

I saw Gerry every day at work between 1980 and 1999; socially, we'd go on holiday together.

We were such good mates that in September 1995, myself and my wife Ursula moved into Gerry and Morah's home while our own house was being built.

This was no small undertaking. At the time I had two kids under two, Gerry had three kids.

Every day he would do his morning radio show, I'd do my evening show, while Ursula worked as a researcher on 'The Late Late Show' for Gay Byrne. I don't know how Morah coped with the mayhem. It was all our worlds thrown together but it was wonderful sitting around listening to Gerry.

In many ways, I was always his scapegoat.

I'm not a food person but I've been in more restaurants than you have ever seen because of Gerry. I always did what had to be done because I never cared about what I ate. In Florida, Gerry once ordered alligator for me to prove it.

I'm still really in shock over his passing, but I know there will never be another Gerry Ryan. It could never happen. What the man had was a combination of total mischief and massive intelligence. He had a brain and an intellect better than yours and mine. That combination was 100pc unique.

Gerry Ryan lit up a room and because he was completely insane and bonkers, no one else had to be. RTE aren't stupid enough to think they could ever find a new Gerry Ryan.

He's gone.

But the fun he gave us will last forever.

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