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The Guy Who Sang ‘Amazing Grace’

Jun 12, 2004

I’ve heard nobody in the commentary of the Reagan funeral say much about Ronan Tynan, the tenor who sang at the National Cathedral service. Most news reports only say that President Reagan “wanted an operatic singer” to perform at his funeral.

In fact, Tynan has an amazing story. Here it is:

Tenor Ronan Tynan hails from Kilkenny, Ireland. His story is an example of dogged perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Ronan, a twin, whose brother died at the age of 11 months, was afflicted with lower leg problems in his early years until the decision was made to amputate his lower limbs after an accident at the age of 20. While this would be enough to wreck most people’s lives, it created in Ronan a tremendous desire to prove himself.

Within 12 months Ronan began winning medals at disabled games. Between 1981 and 1990, he amassed 18 gold medals and 14 world records in international track and field events. He then went on to become the first disabled person ever admitted to the National College of Physical Education in Limerick. That was followed by training in medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, leading to his current position as a doctor of sports medicine.

When Ronan turned 30, he started taking voice lessons and, again, his natural talent shone through. In 1992 he won the John McCormack Cup for Tenor Voice which helped lead to master classes with the famous Italian tenor, Ugo Benelli, in Genoa.

While studying as a medical student in 1994, he shot to stardom after winning the BBC talent competition for “Go For It,” securing maximum points from the judging panel in the final. In 1996, Ronan won the prestigious “Marmande” singing competition in France and was invited to be part of the famous Pavarotti School.

His rapid rise to prominence led to Sony Music offering him a recording deal.Ronan has appeared on numerous television shows, including a tribute to the American singer Mario Lanza. He has been the subject of a recent ABC News 20/20 segment, as well as an Irish documentary entitled Dr. Courageous. His first Album, My Life Belongs to You, was released in August 1998 and jumped straight into the charts at number five and was certified gold.

Ronan has added to his list of achievements by authoring his first book. In January 2002 Simon & Schuster released his memoir, Halfway Home: My Life ‘Til Now. Though hampered by disability early in life, the remarkable story of Ronan Tynan is an inspiration to all. Few artists are so worthy of the success they receive. Ronan is one who deserves all this and more.