Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
His legacy
His Eulogy  
Read by his mother, Rhian, at his funeral

Ryan. A small name for such a huge character, but in Gaelic it means “little king” and from a very early age, Ryan commanded people’s attention—not always positively! He could be the most exasperating child and when he set his mind to something it was nearly impossible to distract him. When he was going through the terrible twos, I used to walk around the house chanting “I will not negotiate with terrorists.” He was always full of mischief, whether it was teaming up with a friend to capture farts in a jar, or pouring my French perfume into one of his potions of various disgusting things in the hope that the potion would smell better. That sense of fun, mischief and adventure was an integral part of who he was. His friend, Roxanne, summed up his character perfectly. She said that “he had no walls. No hidden agenda. He was just out there saying ‘hello world, this is me, take or lump it.’”

And so he was, out there, on his own terms. It was often Ryan who was chosen to host his class assembly, often Ryan who came home from sports day with more ribbons on his chest than any other child and usually Ryan who was in more trouble than anyone else. As parents, we rapidly discovered that it was very easy to get angry with Ryan but impossible to stay that way. He was always out there grabbing life (and his brother) by the throat, trying to shake them into submission. Sometimes life (and Aidan) bit him back but, mostly, they would have to submit.

Ryan had the gift of charm and the intelligence to go with it; and that is a heady combination. It was not only the young women who fell at his feet, but anybody of any age. That was because his ability to charm grew from his genuine interest in people. He loved people and so they loved him. He was fiercely loyal and, although he gave Aidan a hard time, he told me that he would always defend Aidan if it was ever needed. Also, he was never afraid to admit his mistakes and apologise. For some years I sometimes felt that the only words I heard Ryan say were “sorry Mum—or Dad.” And the trouble was that no matter what he did, he always somehow made you feel it wasn’t that bad. That included rescuing him and a friend from a park in Kardinya at 2am after he stole the family Commodore and flattened the battery. The RAC took an hour to come so I had time to read the riot act, but we were soon laughing together about anything and everything.

There were many other occasions when we had to rescue Ryan, but one incident was far more significant than the others. Ryan was always interested in the world around him and as a teenager he became more aware of his place within it. He was passionate about many different issues and was prepared to speak out about them. Sometimes too loudly and for too long! Martin Luther King, Jr., said that, “the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of love and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.” And that was very true of the young man whose life we are here to celebrate. Ryan was charged over the burning of the Australian flag in the anti-Iraq war rally in 2003. I was called to the police station to bail him out, which felt very serious at the time. However, as with most incidents involving Ryan, the whole thing was like a scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. (Did they get the name wrong?) As I arrived, the young folk sitting outside began to chant “it’s the mother, it’s the mother” and I had the uncontrollable urge to say “he’s not the messiah he’s just a naughty little boy!” But he wasn’t little and he wasn’t naughty, he was a young man with the courage to stand up for his convictions and the courage to take the consequences. And that, more than anything else, epitomises the man he had become.

It was those passionate beliefs, and his dissatisfaction with the world in which he lived, that led to his obsession with Hip Hop music. Hip Hop is the protest music of the 21st century and it was here that Ryan found his niche, as YT. He was able to use all his skills—his passionate support of the underdog, his amazing general knowledge and gift for language, as well as his gift for performance. In celebration of those skills, you will later hear two pieces of music written and performed by YT. You may not like them, but I hope you appreciate the intelligence and linguistic ability required as well as gaining a greater understanding of the young man who created them.

It is fortunate that we have Ryan’s music to remember him by, as his passing leaves a huge gap in our lives that time will paper over but never fill. Ryan truly was a star, but he was a Supernova—flaring quickly and hotly, shining extremely brightly, then burning out all too soon. 

We hope that he is truly at peace.
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