Limerick’s Fr Liam Ryan is gone but not forgotten

DOnal O’Regan

Reporter:

DOnal O’Regan

Fr Liam Ryans brother Fr Seamus Ryan, sisters Enda O'Mahony, Mary T Ryan and niece Eanna O'Mahony in Maynooth
AT THE 2010 launch of As Time Goes By - A Photographic Record of Cappamore, the late Fr Liam Ryan quoted the son of Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

AT THE 2010 launch of As Time Goes By - A Photographic Record of Cappamore, the late Fr Liam Ryan quoted the son of Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

“There’s no statue to him, there’s no monument to him, there’s only a simple Latin description given by his son: ‘Si Monumentum um requires circumspice - if you want a monument look around you’,” said Fr Ryan.

At an event to celebrate the life of the professor emeritus in Maynooth University this December all the attendees had to do to see the achievements of Fr Liam Ryan was look around them. Family, friends and members of Cappamore Historical Society travelled to Meath for the evening, one which they will never forget.

Fr Liam, who passed away in May aged 79, had many gifts - a hurler [the youngest ever winning captain of a Munster senior hurling championship team] songwriter, historian, sociologist, author, storyteller to name but a few. Many stories about him were retold in Maynooth.

Eilis Duggan, a great friend and fellow Cappamore Historical Society member, said Fr Liam was “simply an amazing man”. She said the occasion in Maynooth was “absolutely beautiful”. A booklet of people’s recollections and stories of Fr Liam was spec-ially printed.

“There was a display at one end of the room of photos, books, articles and memor-abilia of his life. There was a massive screen continually playing photographs. Mary P Corcoran, professor of sociology, opened it. It was done in Quaker style - anyone who wanted could go to the podium and speak which was really lovely.

“Most of the people had submitted articles for the booklet. They shared their recollections, it was fascinating.

“It could have gone on forever but it went on from 6pm until 8pm,” said Eilis. Cappamore parish priest Fr Dick Browne sang John Hayes of Cappamore, composed by Fr Liam. Bernard Kennedy treated the audience to the Fair of Cappamore.

Fr Liam spent nearly all of his working life in Maynooth, teaching and advising generations of students. The group from Cappamore didn’t know that Fr Liam had instigated a number of departments including social sciences, anthropology, adult and continuing education.

“We knew he was head of sociology and he brought that into the modern era but he also started all these other departments. We weren’t aware of that. His sister Enda said, ‘We thought we knew our brother’ and the historical society would say the same. We knew Liam but we never knew him fully,” said Eilis. He was such a modest man that he never spoke of his countless achievements.

It all goes back Fr Liam’s own quote about if you want a monument look around you – and that was there for all to see in Maynooth.