Olympic Ryan brothers honoured by Alma Mater

Brothers Willie and Ted Ryan were honoured at Scoil Mhuire Community School, Clane for their achievement in representing Ireland in the Olympics, writes Conor McHugh.

Brothers Willie and Ted Ryan were honoured at Scoil Mhuire Community School, Clane for their achievement in representing Ireland in the Olympics, writes Conor McHugh.

At the schools annual awards ceremony the achievements of the two men, past pupils of the school, and natives of Graigues, Prosperous, were remembered and recognised.

And they are inaugurated into the Scoil Mhuire Hall of Fame.

Willie and Ted left what was then the Presentation Convent on the Main Street in Clane in 1972 and 1975 respectively and both entered the Garda Siochana.

“I did my Leaving Cert in June and joined the Gardai in September 1972, “ Willie recalls. “There was a big recruitment campaign at the time.”

In fact, Willie explained that at the time, potential recruits didn’t necessarily have to do their Leaving Cert. There was an entrance exam for the gardai. Despite having done his Leaving Cert, it was on the strength of his results in the entrance exam that he got it.

Four years later, at the Montreal Olympics, he represented Ireland in rowing, and again in 1980, where he was joined by Ted, this time in Moscow.

What is particularly amazing is that, by his own admission, when he left school in Clane, “I didn’t even know there was a sport of rowing”.

“It was only when I joined the gardai that I joined the Garda rowing club,” he explained.

In the 1980 Olympics, his partner in the Coxless Pairs, Pat Gannon had only started rowing in October of 1978, less than two years before the Olympics.

Willie says this astonishing success came from a coach they had at the time called Brendan Dwane.

“It was all down to Brendan. If you had any talent, he could make sometime good out of it. He was a great technical coach.”

What is also interesting is that many years later, in 2008 Willie’s daughter Caroline, also a rower and also a garda, switched her attentions from rowing to cycling, and only four years later, last month, won a bronze medal in the World Track Championships.

In the Montreal Olympics Willie came seventh in the Coxed Fours, and seventh again in the Coxless Pairs in Moscow in 1980.

Ted Ryan came 11th in the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in the Coxed Fours

Both men are now retired from the gardai.