Ronan Tynan: Fireman’s Friend
By Irish America Staff
April / May 2002
In December, as a tribute to his contribution to the Fire Department both before and since the September 11 attacks, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan was made an honorary firefighter.
Tynan’s affinity with the New York Fire Department goes back a long way. In 1984, at the New York Paralympics, he became friendly with some firefighters. This longstanding friendship led him to offer to sing at the funerals of two of the three firefighters who were killed in the Father’s Day tragedy in New York in June 2001. It was at these funerals that he met Deputy Fire Chief Ray Downey, who was to be one of the many firefighters to lose his life on September 11 and at whose memorial Ronan would later sing. After the attacks on September 11, Ronan went back to New York from Washington, where he had been due to sing at the Pentagon, and tried to help where he could. As a qualified medical doctor, he offered assistance at St Vincent’s but as the hospital was not overwhelmed by casualties, his help wasn’t required. He was delighted subsequently to receive a call from Mayor Giuliani’s office, asking him to sing at the service held at Yankee Stadium on September 23. Ronan also sang at the memorial for those who died in the American Airlines crash at Rockaway Beach in Queens.
Though he enjoys success in a solo capacity, it is probably as one of the three Irish Tenors that Manhattan resident Tynan is best known in the U.S. In his native Ireland, he is a prize-winning show-jumper and horse-breeder and a track athlete who won six world championship golds and eight Olympic medals for bilateral amputees. ♦