Prominent Ryans

There were Ryans who bore this illustrious name with honour and distinction in all walks of life. "The Ryan Dynasty" refers to a remarkable family of twelve from Tomcoole in the fertile farmlands of Wexford, were of the Leinster Branch, descendants of the Ryans of Idrone.

Dr. James Ryan, a Fianna Fail member of the Dail (the Irish Parliament) for Wexford, was a senator and, as member of De Valera's Government, held at different times the post of Minister of Agriculture, Health, and Social Welfare. Kate married Sean T. O'Kelly who became President of Ireland and held office from 1945 to 1959. Phyllis, her younger sister became his second wife after Kate's death. Other members of this talented twelve were farmers or priests and the women married into politics and medicine.

The Owney Ryans also had their outstanding family. The Ryans of Knocklong, County Limerick, have records going back to the 17th century. A Thaddeus Ryan fought at the Battle of Aughrim and the Siege of Limerick. In the present time Thaddy Ryan has been Master of the Scarteen Hounds, the great Black and Tan foxhounds which his family has bred for more than 300 years.

From this area was the rapparee, - Eamonn Riain -, author of the famed Irish song "Eamonn O Chnuic" (Ned of the Hill), which is in fact a song about the author himself who was a well known outlaw or "Raparee" as they were known at the time. He is said to have been a Jacobite officer who took to these hills after the Treaty of Limerick (1691) and preyed on the English planters (Englishmen / Scotsmen granted title to confiscated Irish land) in North Tipperary. According to legend he was finally murdered by a Family Member, for the reward placed on his head by the English, but when they went to claim the reward they found that the English had granted him a pardon, lifted the declaration of outlawry, and the reward no longer applied.

There are now Ryans in every county in Ireland, but the main branches of the family are associated with the provinces of Leinster and Munster, and more particularly Munster.

Text by Ted Ryan