Barry, Vincent, Martina and Holly Cusack Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE LATE Ryan Cusack was looking down from heaven recently with a broad grin on his face as his family and friends marked his 21st birthday.
The talented young jockey was taken from his loving family – mum and dad, Martina and Vincent and siblings, Barry and Holly – in a tragic farm accident aged just 17.
About a year and a half ago a friend of his mum suggested organising a fundraiser in memory of Ryan because he was so well-liked.
“At the time I said if I was going to do it, I would time it to coincide with his 21st because it would be my way of coping with the 21st. I wanted something that he would have had a connection with. One day I was in town and I went in to get a Mass card in the Knock Shrine Bureau,” said Martina.
She met a lady who was working in the Dyslexic Support Centre when Ryan was attending there. He was diagnosed as dyslexic when he was in first class and went until sixth class.
Now it is called the Dyslexic Action Centre and Martina decided to raise money for that as they do “brilliant work” and “get no funds”.
The Castle Oaks House Hotel was booked for Saturday night, Ryan would have turned 21 at midnight. They came up with a theme for the 21st birthday party – pink socks and sunglasses.
“Ryan always wore sunglasses. The pink socks came from the night of his debs. He had a bet that he wouldn’t wear pink. He said to me when he was going out, ‘I’m not going to lose the bet’. He pulled up the leg of his pants and he had a pair of pink socks on. He tucked the pants inside the socks and he danced the night away with them on show. The socks were a sign of his personality and sense of humour,” said Martina.
On Saturday night the pink socks were put in a frame along with a photo of Ryan taken at his debs with his tie and cufflinks.
“We had that on display. We had all his helmets displayed, a picture of him with sunglasses on, all his rosettes and the JP McManus colours,” said Martina. The famous silks were from when Ryan rode the Enda Bolger trained Far and Away. As a rising star in horse racing, spacehopper pony races were organised.
“Every race was sponsored by a company. We had 26 ponies and each one was sponsored for €100. There was pandemonium, it was a great laugh,” said Martina. Over 250 attended and incredibly in excess of €10,000 has been raised for the Dyslexic Action Centre. They were hoping for €6,500. The huge sum says a lot about a teenager who touched the lives of so many during his short 17 years on this earth.
“I would have always thought there was something special about Ryan, he was my first child. But then at the funeral when people spoke to me, everyone that Ryan ever came across – he made an impression on. It was then I thought there is something special about him. He had a very special way. And I suppose that’s why he wasn't here too long,” said Martina.