Mother of tragic Micheál Ryan says son is returning home a ‘UN hero’


The mother of an Irishman who was killed in a plane crash in Ethiopia last March has said her son, Micheál Ryan, is coming home as a “UN hero” because of “all the lives he has saved.”

Mr Ryan, from Lahinch, Co Clare, was one of 157 people who died when the Boeing 737 Max crashed minutes after take-off en route from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya on March 10. The flight came down near the town of Bishoftu, 50km southeast of Addis Abada. Mr Ryan died two weeks before his 40th birthday.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show from Frankfurt airport where she was en route to Ireland from Addis Ababa with his remains, Christine Ryan said she and her son, Tiernan, flew to Ethiopia two days ago to bring Micheál’s body back to Ireland.

The 39-year-old had worked as an engineer with the UN’s World Food Programme on projects in the developing world.

Ms Ryan spoke of how the family had met representatives from the Ethopian government and the United Nations and were brought to see the casket on Monday. She said it had been emotionally draining but it meant a great deal to her to be able to bring her son’s remains home.

UN personnel and Irish Government representatives met them at Dublin Airport and the remains were brought back to Lahinch in Co Clare for a private burial.

There had been, she said, a public celebration of his life and the family would like the burial to be private.

Ms Ryan said she would like her son to be remembered as a caring person, who cared about humanity and who worked to better the lives of many people. Micheál had been living in Cork with his wife and two young children for many years, but recently moved to Rome where the UN World Food Programme headquarters is based.

Speaking shortly after his death, his mother remembered him as an “enthusiastic” person who loved helping others.

She said:

“He had a great vision, he believed in engineering, putting people first and he was involved in an awful lot of different projects worldwide, flood relief, landslides, Ebola. He had been in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and a lot of African countries. He felt he made a difference.”

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