Youngest ever captain of a Munster championship winning team dies

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Man of deep intellect who had the common touch: Fr Liam Ryan
CAPPAMORE lost a fine priest, sportsman and scholar this Wednesday – but most of all a decent and kind man.

CAPPAMORE lost a fine priest, sportsman and scholar this Wednesday – but most of all a decent and kind man.

Fr Liam Ryan went to his God in the care of Milford Care Centre at around 8am. The 79-year-old’s health had been failing but his sudden passing was unexpected. There was a deep sense of shock in the parish where he had assisted Fr Browne for the last decade.

Fr Liam, as he was affectionately known, was a keen historian and his own sporting legacy will last forever. He remains the youngest-ever captain, at just 19, of a Munster championship-winning side, Mackey’s Greyhounds of 1955. Fr Liam was joined by his brother, Fr Seamus Ryan, aged 18, on the team.

Sadly Fr Liam wasn’t well enough to travel to Thurles to see Limerick beat Clare with his great friend Oliver Dillon. They have travelled to matches together for years. Fr Liam would have been reminded of himself watching 19-year-old Cian Lynch.

Mr Dillon said Fr Liam Ryan was a tremendous character.

“He is only in hospital less than a month. Everybody is saddened by it. It is a shock to all of us in Cappamore. We were all very close to him,” said Mr Dillon.

Fr Liam spent 40 years in Maynooth where he became Professor Emeritus of Sociology. Fr Liam returned to East Limerick in 2003.

“I always regarded Cappamore as my home and they say you should retire with people you know,“ Fr Liam told the Leader last year.

His loss will leave a hole that cannot be filled. Fr Liam was president of Cappamore Historical Society and famously wrote a song for John Hayes when he won his 100th cap for Ireland.

He had a rare trait - despite his keen intellect he had the common touch.

Great friends to Fr Liam were the Duggan family. Eilis Duggan said they are deeply saddened and will miss him forever.

“We can never measure the gift of his presence amongst us,” said Mrs Duggan. Her daughter, Diane, lit two candles in a chapel in Italy where she is travelling.

They have countless warm memories of Fr Liam including him concelebrating the wedding ceremony of Colin Duggan and Fina Dalton on May 1 in Bere Island.

“He was absolutely determined he was going to that wedding,” said Mrs Duggan. Fr Liam said his last Mass on May 3. Sadly, his funeral Mass takes place in Cappamore on Saturday at 2pm; lying in repose in Lynch Kelly’s funeral home from 6pm to 8pm on Friday evening.

Fr Liam will be sadly missed by siblings Mary T Ryan, Fr Seamus Ryan, Enda O’Mahony, extended family and wide circle of friends. May he rest in peace.