“My mother was a phenomenal woman - I don’t think there is any adjective that can describe her: powerful, focused, direct. She made me feel like my disability was just a pit stop where every year I had to have limbs made when I was young,” says Ronan Tynan, as he talks to Irish Country Living in his family home, outside Johnstown, Co Kilkenny.

Born with a bilateral limb problem, Ronan had an amputation when he was 20 after a motorbike accident, but adds that “apart from that, I had a very normal childhood. My father was a sweetheart of a man; he was a beautiful singer and a farmer. We were tied at the seams of our trousers. He loved singing and when we milked the cows together, we sang to the cows. He was an extraordinary man. Even though I had many trials in terms of the amputation and limbs and stuff like that, nothing ever deterred him from being with me.”

The future

Ronan’s early dreams were to be a jockey, but like many others, his height and weight deterred that career. With his dad backing him no matter what, it was his mum that brought the focus back to education.

“She brought me into the sitting room and said I want to talk to you about your future. She said ‘singing is an avocation, medicine is a vocation and while you are a grand singer, they don’t make money and they live from hand to mouth so have security in your life’.” Following that conversation, it was off to Trinity College Dublin to study medicine Ronan went.

In a farmyard setting, the skills developed on his medical journey did not go astray. “I remember coming in in my Sunday clothes from a point-to-point and there was a cow calving and I calved her myself. My mother said ‘look at the state of you’ and dad asked what happened and I told him, ‘Well you have a heifer and a bull calf’ and mam said ‘clothes can be washed’ and that put it into perspective. Medically, it is bred in you. I love animals and I’m not going to see a cow in labour, suffering and trying to get this calf out - the shocking thing is when you go in and see two coming!”

Milking the cows

It was towards the end of his medical degree, while out milking the cows with his dad, that the pursuit of singing came up again. Ronan recalls: “Da said ‘you have to do something with this voice. Get lessons, get control over it.' And from the moment I went to Veronica Dunne in the Leinster School of Music, he was no longer interested in what I was doing in hospitals. All he wanted to know was, what was she teaching you and can you teach me? He had an extraordinary voice. He sang so sweetly.”

In a reflection of opportunities offered to each new generation, it is thought singing was considered to be ‘frivolous’ to Ronan’s grandfather and so, his own dad developed his singing techniques from Ronan.

With such support from both parents, the moral compass of the Tynan family was solid. Ronan described it is as “belief and encouragement are the matches which light the candle of achievement.” With both parents having such tremendous belief in their son, Ronan can luckily say: “I never had that imposter syndrome They gave me the opportunity to believe in myself from a very young age and it brought the best out in me.”

  • The Irish Tenors commence their 25th anniversary tour at the National Concert Hall, Dublin on 7 and 8 January, followed by a date in The Kingdom of Kerry on 14 January.

    For further information visit https://theirishtenorsmusic.com/tour-dates.