News of the death of Frankie Ryan was heard of with extreme regret in the Bennettsbridge community and beyond. Frankie died on 11th February at his home in Woodlawn surrounded by his family.
Born in 1937, he was one of a family of seven children of Edward and Margaret Ryan, 17, The Ring, Bennettsbridge. He was predeceased by his sisters, Kit (Cook), Berry (Fogarty), Lily (Conway) and his nephew Eamon.
Of the family of seven, two sisters, Kit and Berry made their homes in England while Lily settled in New York. Frankie, Edward and Noel moved to Woodlawn while Michael stayed in the home place.
Frankie and Lila married in 1964, they spent a number of years in London. Back in Kilkenny the couple, with their daughter, Caroline, eventually made their home in Woodlawn. A real family man, his joy knew no bounds when his granddaughters, Jessica and Abbie came on the scene. He was so proud of all their achievements.
A valued member of the community he was involved in the Bennettsbridge Credit Union for many years and was a supporter of all parochial activities.
He was recognised as one of the finest youth hurlers throughout the fifties. In 1953, he won a minor championship with Dicksboro, after which he represented the Bennettsbridge club at County minor level for two years in the mid-fifties. Four senior titles followed, beaten for a fifth by Tullaroan in 1958. He also played for Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final when they were beaten by Tipperary. He was to pick up two more senior titles with the ‘Bridge, 1960 and 1962 before emigrating to England.
An all-round sportsman, he played squash, tennis and golf with considerable success. Soccer played a major part in his life.
Frankie had a varied working life including, time spent as a steel fixer in the building industry in England in the sixties. Back in Kilkenny he worked locally in Mosse’s Mills, Quigley Magnesite, Callan Heat Logs and Tex Tech factory in Purcell’s Inch.
Family, friends and neighbours filed past his coffin in Johnston’s Funeral home on Monday, 13th February. Prayers were recited by Fr, James Murphy, St Canice’s, after which the remains were removed to Bennettsbridge.
A Guard of Honour comprising of GAA, East End Soccer and Woodlawn neighbours of over fifty years met the cortege at the entry to the estate and escorted one of their own on his final journey. A brief stop was observed outside Frankie’s house and the funeral continued to St Bennett’s Church where Fr. Pat Duggan received the remains.
Requiem Mass was celebrated by Canon Pat Duggan and he welcomed everyone, especially his wife, Lila, daughter, Caroline, grandchildren, Jessica and Abbie, extended family and friends to the celebration of Frankie’s life. He extended sympathy to the family on their sad loss. He acknowledged his loyal service to the church, as a collector for many years, a service which began back in the old church where he served as an altar boy.
The lessons were read by Laura Fegarty (niece),and Kevin Connolly(grand-nephew).
Prayers of the Faithful, Susan Cooke, Rosie Ryan, Ryan Connolly, Cliodhna Ryan(family members) and Paul O’Reilly(East End).
The Offertory gifts, with narration by Andrew Fegarty, reflected Frankie’s interests during his life, Margaret Moran brought a book, Eoin Ryan, a remote control and a Tottenham Hotspur scarf, Sandra Ryan brought a family photograph and Alan Ryan a coffee mug. The Water and wine were presented by Lila and Caroline Ryan.
Music throughout the ceremony was provided by Martina and James.
David (Crocky) Ryan, delivered the eulogy paying tribute to a much loved uncle. The following is an excerpt……
“On behalf of Lila, Caroline, Abbie, Jessica and the extended Ryan family we welcome everyone here today and thank you for your kind words and support in these sad days for the family. We would like to extend our deepest thanks to the support team who looked after Frankie so well. It is only when it’s your own family that you realise how professional, dedicated and caring they are. Fr. Duggan, is always like a part of the family when hard times come, we are so lucky to have him in our parish.
:Frankie and Lila married in 1964 and shortly after Caroline arrived in their lives. Frankie never seemed to age and always looked happy because of the two ladies in his life who looked after him so well.
A move to England in the sixties introduced what would become a love/hate relationship for the rest of his life – Tottenham Hotspur and Mullery, Mackay and Greaves. A few good days when Spurs were young, but mostly pain. Lately he had been threatening to give up supporting Spurs but Caroline persuaded him to stay loyal. Surely one of his proudest moments was when Harry Kane broke Greaves scoring record and he saw it on television. Everyone who came into 11, Woodlawn was proudly told this by Lila. So after 58 years of marriage he finally converted her, she is now an expert on the offside rule.
Frankie enjoyed frequent trips to the Aviva with the gang, the soccer wasn’t great under Trapp but the company was great.
When East End was founded in 1972, Frankie and his brothers were instrumental in its formation. Frankie played, managed, worked on committees and was Chairman of the club. His contribution to the 50th celebrations where he received a Lifetime Recognition Award was priceless. One of the clubs greatest achievements was reaching an SFAI All Ireland Youths Final under Frankie’s leadership.
I said earlier that Frankie looked young and was always happy. This was because with the arrival of his two grandchildren, Abbie and Jessica, he now had four ladies looking after him.
To try and condense someone’s 85 great years in three or four minutes is impossible but a gift from Abbie and Jessica might sum it up better than I can…..They presented Frankie with a T-shirt, he looked at it, smiled and held it up in front of himself and posed. It read, “The World’s Last Perfect Man”.
That’s Frankie, the gentleman, leaving us in body today, always in our hearts and he will never be forgotten”.
Frankie was predeceased by his sisters Kit (Cook), Berry (Fegarty), Lily (Conway) and his nephew Eamon.
He is survived by his wife, Lila, daughter, Caroline and grandchildren, Jessica and Abbie. He will be sadly missed by his loving family, brothers Edward, Michael and Noel, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, extended family, neighbours and friends.
Rest in peace Frankie!