DEIRDRE Ryan of Lace Cottage, Ringabella was guest of honour at the recent unveiling of a plaque to her late husband, the writer, artist and broadcaster, John Ryan.
John, who died in 1992, was founder of Envoy literary magazine, and benefactor to Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh and many impoverished writers of the 1950s.
The plaque in Dublin’s Duke St was unveiled by Senator David Norris and writer Brendan Lynch. John Ryan’s father was Seamus Ryan, a south Tipperary senator, who founded the Monument Creameries chain of restaurants. John’s sister, Kathleen Ryan, was a film actress who appeared in such films as Odd Man Out.
Mrs Ryan, who was accompanied by her daughters Triona and Anna Livia, said it was a great tribute to John and an opportunity for her to see many faces from the past, including Ben Kiely’s widow, Frances.
Also there were writers John Sexton, Peter Costello and Philip Donleavy, whose father, Ginger Man author J P Donleavy, a great friend of John’s, died recently.
In his speech, Brendan Lynch remembered: ‘In the late 1950s, I lived in the heart of Dublin’s Bohemia in Upper Mount Street. The climate could not have been more inimical to creativity. Censorship reigned, barefoot children shouted ‘Herald a’ Mail’ at street corners, Georgian homes sank into tenement dilapidation.
‘Yet a golden literary age thrived, with Corkmen Frank O’Connor and Sean O’Faolain, James Plunkett, Behan, Kavanagh, Flann O’Brien and poets John Montague and Paul Durcan, and hard working artists such as John Behan, Nevill Johnson and Pauline Bewick. Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press, Alan Simpson’s Pike Theatre, the unforgettable Parsons Bookshop.
‘And at the heart of this flowering was John Ryan, whose largesse and encouragement nourished so many of them. And whose Envoy campaigning helped end the ludicrous censorship, which had sent the likes of Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett and John McGahern into exile. John also organised the first Bloomsday celebration of James Joyce in 1954.’