Tynan, Ronan 1960-

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TYNAN, Ronan 1960-


Born May 14, 1960, in Kilkenny, Ireland. Education: National College of Physical Education, graduated 1985; Trinity College, M.D., 1993; also attended College of Music (Dublin, Ireland). Hobbies and other interests: Horse breeding and riding, track and field.


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Physician in Kilkenny, Ireland; Irish Tenors, musician, 1998—. Has also worked as a salesman of prosthetic limbs. Performer on solo albums, including My Life Belongs to You, 2002, and The ImpossibleDream, 2002; has also performed with the Irish Tenors on albums The Irish Tenors: McNamara, McDermott, Kearns, Tynan, 1999, Home for Christmas, 1999, Live in Belfast, 2000, Ellis Island, 2001, The Very Best of the Irish Tenors, 2002, and We Three Kings, 2003.


John McCormack Cup for Tenor Voice, 1991; "Go For It" talent show winner, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)/RTE, 1994; Best Male Voice, International Operatic Singing Festival (Marmande, France), 1996; eight Olympic gold medals and six world championship gold medals in track and field events for disabled athletes.


Halfway Home: My Life 'Til Now, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.


One of the celebrated Irish Tenors, Ronan Tynan was thirty-three before he even undertook formal musical training. It all happened after a remarkable journey that has made him a poster boy for determination in the face of adversity. Born with a rare lower limb disability that forced him to wear leg supports, Ronan refused to accept any limitations. He became an avid soccer player and later an amateur jockey, winning show jumping medals. Then at age twenty, after breaking his leg in a motorbike accident, doctors told him they would have to amputate both his legs at the knee to prevent future health problems. It was a terrible blow, but already Tynan was suffering bouts of paralysis and even blindness from the pressure that standing up put on some of his nerve endings. So he told the doctors to go ahead.

For the first time, Tynan began to think seriously about academic credentials, seeing them as a means of maintaining his independence in the face of his disability. At the same time, he did not want to give up on athletics. So he applied to Ireland's National College of Physical Education, becoming the first disabled person accepted there. Using prosthetic limbs, he passed the school's mobility standards and even went on to win gold medals in Olympic competitions for the disabled. After graduation, he found a job as a salesman for a firm marketing prosthetic limbs, but Tynan still was not satisfied.

Musing one day about his dreams, Tynan decided he would love to become a doctor, and before long he was studying orthopedic sports injuries at Dublin's prestigious Trinity College. Despite the grueling schedule of studies and internships, Tynan decided to nurture another dream along the way. In his fifth year of medical school, he started taking voice lessons and soon was competing in regional contests and studying under Irish singer Veronica Dunne and Italian tenor Ugo Benelli. After graduating from medical school, he entered and won the British Broadcasting Corporation's talent show "Go For It." The doctors at the hospital where he was interning even took up a collection to send him to the Royal Conservatory of Music, and soon Tynan was winning international singing competitions. Then Tynan's body seemed to strike back again. This time, he suddenly lost his voice, and doctors discovered a blockage that had been damaging his vocal cords for years. They removed it, but it was unclear if his singing voice would ever return.

Tynan returned to his hometown of Kilkenny, Ireland, to set up a medical practice specializing in sports medicine and rehabilitation. He hesitated to sing in public, but in 1998 he sang at his father's funeral and discovered that his remarkable voice had returned. A short time later, he teamed up with Anthony Kearns and John McDermott and the Irish Tenors were born. Their first concert CD went platinum, as did Tynan's solo album My Life Belongs to You. Today, he shuttles between his practice in Kilkenny and filling concert halls on tour with the Irish Tenors, while continuing the competitive horse riding of his youth, this time on horses he raises himself. In Halfway Home: My Life 'Til Now, he recounts all these up and downs and triumphs. "In other hands, this litany of overachievement would have sounded like an exercise in self-congratulation, but Tynan treats his impressive—actually astounding—life matter-of-factly," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Library Journal reviewer Kate McCaffrey found that "Tynan's style is simple and direct, certainly not artful, but his physical and emotional bravery is so compelling that it doesn't matter."



Booklist, January 1, 2002, p. 791.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2001, review of Halfway Home: My Life 'Til Now, p. 1604.

Library Journal, January, 2002, Kate McCaffrey, review of Halfway Home, p. 107.

People, March 11, 2002, Galina Espinoza and Debbie Seaman, "All of the Above."

Publishers Weekly, December 10, 2001, "Feel-Good Stories," p. 66.*