Paul Ryan of Cullawn, Knock, Roscrea – An Appreciation

Paul Ryan of Cullawn, Knock, Roscrea – An Appreciation

On Sunday 5th November 2017 when God called Paul Ryan to his eternal rest, it sent shock waves through the community.

Paul a native of Cullawn, Knock, Roscrea was the youngest of the Ryan family numbering five boys and three girls.

He was educated in Knock National School and Thurles Secondary School.

Paul was the first from his parish to be trained as an Artificial Inseminator in 1967. After working for some time with the Department of Agriculture, Paul was called to work on A.I. in the Roscrea area in 1969. The following year he was transferred to the Clonaslee/Mountmellick/Ballyfin area.

In 1975 he was transferred to the Montrath/Abbeyleix area. As the job of an A.I. man was very seasonal Paul had a job in the meat plant in Rathdowney during the winter months. Paul was one of the first in Ireland to be trained to do embryo transfer in the commercial cow herd. As years went on Paul was appointed as Laboratory manager with responsibility for the processing, freezing and distribution of semen in Dovea A.I. station. Paul’s work is surely summed up by his poetic wit and genius in his poem “The Bull in the Bottle” and I am sure many people all across the Laois/Tipperary area recall Paul’s friendship over the years.

Paul was fond of all sport and he played hurling, tug of war, weight throwing and rugby. The indoor sport he played was draughts. His early hurling was with Knock N.S. and then for parochial reasons Paul and his mates played with Kyle in the Laois championships.

Paul had a huge part to play in the famous Knock tug-of-war team which went on to win many honours. Paul’s poem “Eleven in a Row” captures just how good they were in winning eleven competitions in a row in 1987.

Paul’s interest in athletics came from his involvement with tug of war. He competed in the early stages with Premier A.C. then went on to join Templemore A.C. He won several County Championships, Munster and All Ireland medals at both the 56lb weight throwing and Shot putt.

His All Ireland medal hall included seven championships, plus two National League medals and held the record in Templemore with a throw of the 56lb weight to a record 7m and 77cm. He was also a rugby enthusiast and played junior with Roscrea from 1969-1974. Paul also enjoyed playing in many draught tournaments.

Paul and the Ryan family were steeped in Irish tradition and folklore and his unique gift as a writer and poet surely was passed to him by his father Jim.

Paul was a gifted songwriter, poet and storyteller and published two books called “Ballads and Rhymes from The Rare Old Times” (2008) and “Stories and Rhymes From Forgotten Times” (2015). Also some of his songs have been recorded and are aired on local radio. I have many fond memories of visiting Paul both in Abbey St and Parkmore Heights where he and I discussed many a piece of writing that either he or I were doing. Paul gave great encouragement at all times to all his fellow scribes.

One of his greatest legacies was as founder of Roscrea Speakers Club in January 2007 with his two great friends, Larry Lyons and Sean Dwan, Paul brought public speaking to a higher level with his encouragement, wit and humour.

What a rich legacy he has left to those (of whom I am one) who were privileged to have joined this unique group no longer fearing public speaking.

Unfortunately, in latter years Paul fell victim to Parkinson’s disease which he fought gallantly as he did in his sporting life not giving up until the referee blew the final whistle.

I will end with Paul’s own words with some verses from his poem called ‘Parkinson’s Disease’.

“I thank the Lord for all the days,

I walked and talked with ease;

Till the day I fell victim

To Parkinson’s Disease.

By the time I had discovered,

I could barely write my name;

Every muscle in my body

Had deserted me the same.

Parkinson’s can shorten life’

Some wish it always did;

When a lifetime chasing happiness

Finds misery instead.

Lord through my failing muffled speech’

Just two last favours please;

Ease the pain and grant a cure

For Parkinson’s Disease”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

- John Brown