Mary Corcoran, Head of the Department of Sociology at Maynooth College with Dr Brian Conway, co editor of the book - Picture: Keith Wiseman
ONE OF the late Fr Liam Ryan’s favourite quotes was by the son of Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
‘Si Monumentum um requires circumspice’ - if you want a monument look around you.
You just had to look around the community centre in Cappamore on Friday evening to see the standing Fr Liam was held. Over 250 gathered for the launch of Liam Ryan Selected Writings.
Poignantly it was almost two years to the day that he passed away.
The phrase “renaissance man” is often bandied around but that is what Fr Liam was. He was the youngest ever winning captain of a senior Munster hurling championship team, a songwriter, historian, sociologist, author and storyteller to name but a few of the strings to his bow.
Fr Liam was a professor emeritus and former head of the sociology department, Maynooth University. It is fitting the current professor of sociology, Mary Corcoran, travelled to Cappamore to launch the book.
Liam Ryan Selected Writings was edited by Eilis Duggan, Mary T Ryan and Mary Lysaght, of Cappamore Historical Society, with the guidance of Brian Conway, NUI Maynooth.
This new collection assembles a selection of these writings – 17 in all, spanning four decades and covering a wide range of topics and issues – with the intention of bringing them into contact with a wider audience than before.
While there is a diversity of topics the themes of changing institutions and conditions in modern societies runs through them all. Well over 200 turned up for the launch.
Oliver Dillon, chairman of Cappamore Historical Society, said Fr Ryan’s words are as relevant today as they were when they were written in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
“And they will be relevant in 50 years’ time. For example, the whole element of the Irish in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s – that was very significant research.
“That was relevant over the last 10 years, even though you were dealing with a better educated workforce, but people still had to emigrate,” said Mr Dillon.
They were great friends and Mr Dillon “thought he knew him”.
“But we didn’t know the academic side until we went to a presentation on him in Maynooth when we saw the other half of him. He was a very modest man. I think he would be pleased with the book because the unpublished material is very important. He was a unique man,” said Mr Dillon.
Professor Corcoran said: “They say that great actors make acting look easy.”
“The same can also be said of great writers. The apparent ease with which Liam commits words to the page belies the extraordinary skill and talent that he drew upon. He was a great prose stylist: each contribution glows with his sophistication of thought, simplicity of language and succinctness of delivery,” she said.
Professor Corcoran said the sharpness of Fr Liam’s intellect and his prescience are seen in Social Dynamite where he “emphasises the impact of early school leaving not only for the children who exit the system but for its reproduction of social disadvantage across generations”.
On many occasions Fr Liam proved himself way ahead of the curve, she said.
Only 400 copies of Liam Ryan Selected Writings have been printed and they are selling out fast. The books are available in local outlets in Cappamore.