Who is Ronan Tynan? 11 things you need to know about the Irish Tenor

Who is Ronan Tynan? 11 things you need to know about the Irish Tenor

RONAN TYNAN paid the perfect tribute to George H.W. Bush with a powerful rendition of Last Full Measure of Devotion at the late former US President's funeral.

In front of a packed out congregation at the National Cathedral in Washington DC and with countless millions watching on around the world, the Irish tenor delivered a performance that earned plaudits all over the world.

But who is Tynan and why was he the man chose to give President Bush the perfect Irish send-off? Here are a few things you need to know.

11. Origins

Born in Dublin but raised in nearby Johnstown in County Kilkenny, Tynan was actually a twin but lost his brother Edmund while still a baby.

Edmund died after contracting pneumonia. He was just 11 months old. Ronan, meanwhile, spent much of his formative years in hospital.

10. Overcoming Obstacles

Tynan was born with phocomelia, a rare congenital deformity that affected his feet, leaving his lower limbs noticeable underdeveloped.


Further tragedy was to strike when aged just 20, the Irishman was involved in a car accident that resulted in his legs being amputated below the knee.

9. Athletic Success

Despite this setback, Tynan fought back and was climbing flights of stars within weeks of the initial amputation.

Within a year he had emerged as a star Paralympian in a variety of track and field events.

He went on to represent Ireland at the 1984 and 1988 Paralympic Games, winning four golds, two silvers, and one bronze medal.

8. Higher Education

He went on to become the first disabled person to be admitted to Limerick’s National College of Physical Education.


Tynan spent two years working in the prosthetics industry. He then studied at Trinity College in Dublin graduating with a physician’s degree specialising in Orthopedic Sports Injuries.

7. Pursuing Singing

With the help and encouragement of his father, Tynan then turned his attention to singing, winning the John McCormick Cup for Tenor Voice and the International Operatic Singing Competition in France. He also won the BBC talent show Go For It.

In 1994, Ronan Tynan was also accepted into England's Royal Opera School, eventually making his operatic debut in Madame Butterfly in Dublin.

Tynan went on to release his debut album My Life Belongs To You in 1998. It was a top-five hit in England and eventually went platinum.

6. The Irish Tenors

In 1998, he was approached by PBS with the invitation to team up with fellow Irish singers Anthony Kearns and John McDermott (who was later replaced by Finbar Wright) to form the Irish Tenors.

Their career was launched a year later with the PBS special The Irish Tenors: Live in Dublin.  They went on to release eight albums and starred in a further four PBS specials before Tynan left to pursue a solo career in 2006 but returned in 2011. The Irish Tenors now perform twice a year around St Patrick’s Day and Christmas.

5. September 11th, 2001

Tynan is fondly remembered for the fact he agreed to sing and perform at the funerals and memorials of the first responders who died on 9/11.

The Irishman lives in New York and is famed for his emotional rendition of God Bless America at sporting venues like Yankee Stadium during a difficult period for the people of the city, which he considers home.

4. A Love Of Horses

Tynan has a passion for horses and spoke on the subject for a TV series with Animal Planet.

"There has never been a time when horses weren’t part of my life," Tynan once told Equus Magazine.

"I was born into a family that had been breeding horses for three generations. They gave me my first taste of freedom, and from then on, there was no stopping me."

3. George HW Bush

George HW Bush first encountered Tynan when the Irish tenor was invited to perform at the state funeral of former President Ronald Reagan singing Ave Maria.

The pair eventually developed a friendship that culminated in Tynan performing at the late former President’s 80th birthday party in 2004.

He also performed at the St. Patrick's Day reception between President George W. Bush and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and at the 2008 President's Dinner.

2. A Memoir

Tynan published a critically-acclaimed memoir in 2002 titled Halfway Home: My Life ‘til Now which saw the singer speak openly about the condition that affected his legs.

He wrote in the book: “In layman’s terms, this means that my legs were about a quarter shorter than they should have been and both my feet were splayed outward… I had only three toes on each foot, which I eventually named Curly, Larry and Moe on the right and Tuppeny, Futto and Jinks on the left.”

1. The Final Goodbye

Tynan paid a visit to George HW Bush in the final few hours of the late President's life, singing Silent Night and a Gaelic folk song.

Rumour has it the President mouthed along to the performance.