With the Irish Tenors preparing to celebrate twenty years on the road together, Dr. Ronan Tynan tells Kay Doyle of his remarkable life journey to date, including how an ‘epiphany’ he had at a young age came to pass in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

As Kilkenny native Dr. Ronan Tynan begins another day of welcoming his music students on to the campus at the University of Kentucky, he finds it difficult to believe that twenty years have washed under the bridge since The Irish Tenors began making global audiences swoon with their magnificent Gaelic vocal talents.

“Time really does fly, and it has been an absolute blast right from the very start,” he says as he braces himself against the bite that has infiltrated its way into the early winter Kentucky air.

“I met Anthony (Kearns) when we both studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and Finbar (Wright) was already an established performer and someone that I admired very much when the idea of The Irish Tenors was first put to us all those years ago. We took to the road together and really haven’t looked back since!”
Young Ronan had a very different introduction to the world – for a while some doctors thought that he might not ever walk. He was born with a bilateral abduction of both ankles, and a failure of the fibula bone to completely form.

This meant that his ankles and lower legs were weak, and that he could walk only with the aid of prosthetic devices.

These artificial devices restored Ronan to the natural height for his age, and though it meant many trips to the hospital in accordance with his growth spurts, he is extremely grateful to his parents for instilling in him the confidence to take on whatever the world would throw at him in just the same manner as any other child.

“I spent two or three years in Temple Street and there were also trips to London to visit the medical teams, so it was an interesting start to life,” says Ronan, “but I grew up exactly the same as my siblings, with no half measures, and I was very quickly kicked into shape.

“My mother was a woman who was before her time in many ways. She sent me to school in short trousers with chunky braces on show and my head held high, and it taught me how to fight my own battles. It was tough love, I guess, but I was blessed with great parents (Thérèse and Edmund) and the great love that they had for us all.
“My parents certainly didn’t have it easy. They went through a lot of hardship, and lost two halves of two sets of twins. I’m the youngest, and have a brother, Thomas, who works in Brussels as aide de camp to European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, and my sister Fiona is a retired school principal.”

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own