By Liam O’Dwyer
“Larger than life” is a well worn phrase employed as an expression of endearment. Nowhere can it be more appropriately applied than to Denis Ryan whose death on 9 December 2023 brought much sadness to Cahir Park Golf Club and far beyond. He was a big man in every way, big in heart, in generosity, in friendship and in kindness, with a fiendish sense of humour. He had been a member of the golf club from the earliest days . A proud son of Cashel he never forgot his hometown , anything to do with Cashel was, in his view fabulous. A sporting man throughout his life he had been a member of the successful Cashel rugby team of the 1950s where he played as a storming number 8 and deadly accurate place kicker. When his rugby playing days had ended and work commitments meant a transfer to Cahir he was delighted to find the fledgling golf club had been founded which gave him an outlet for his competitive instincts. He was to find that many of his rugby friends had the same idea. He had early success when winning the President’s Prize of 1971 presented by John O’Connor, one of the major prizes in the club. He played on many club teams and for such a large man he had very soft hands which gave him a velvet touch on the greens. He served on several committees and was Captain in 1981. From his early success he set out in quest of the Captain’s Prize. Despite many attempts, sadly, it was not to be. By his own admission he was second in it six times, the last being in 1994 when three friends crossed the line together,
Arthur O’Donnell, Denis and Liam O’Dwyer. Arthur prevailed when from the rough chipping in to the hole from an outlandish sixty feet from the final green. Denis was second and Liam third. At the presentation of prizes by the Captain Brendan Webb in the old clubhouse to a packed audience Denis took the microphone, the members expecting the usual formal speech. There was a pause Denis began “Arthur O’Donnell I hate him”. The clubhouse erupted in laughter. Of course Denis could not hate anyone. He continued with a gracious concession to the winner. He was a gregarious man liking nothing better than the company of friends, he telling stories with outrageous embellishment, some apocryphal. When the Seniors golf group was founded in 1997 he supported it enthusiastically and remained loyal to it for the rest of his playing career.
The accompanying photograph is Denis accepting his prize at the Seniors competition in December 2000 no doubt regaling his audience with one of his stories.
His funeral took place on 13 December 2023, in St. Mary’s Church , Cahir, Mass being celebrated by Fr.Pat Butler and attended by the President, Captain and Lady captain of Cahir Park Golf Club with many past officers and members. Predeceased by his wife Joan and daughter Noelette his loss will be mourned by his many friends but most acutely felt by his family, Eoin, Donncha and Aileen to whom the Club offers its deepest sympathy.
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