The Tenacity of Ronan Tynan


The Irish Tenors Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan were the headline act at the Carolina Theater Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Dancing and joking with the audience, one would not have guessed that Tynan was not only a paralympic athlete, doctor and opera singer, but also a double amputee.

Tynan’s remarkable story began at birth with the diagnosis of a lower leg disability. At the age of 20, Tynan decided to have his legs below his knees amputated.

As Tynan’s mother lost both Ronan’s twin brother and another son at a young age, she was determined that her son would one day walk. Little did Ronan’s “Mam” know,  he would go on to accomplish extraordinary feats far beyond walking.

After adjusting to his prosthetic legs, Tynan focused on athleticism, succeeding to win 18 gold medals and break 14 world records in races at the Paralympic Games. Tynan then decided to study orthopedic sports injuries at Trinity College. However, shortly after earning his medical degree, Tynan began his world-renowned career as a tenor and opera singer.

Tynan would treat poor patients for free while practicing medicine but still felt as though he was searching for his true calling.

As one sees Tynan now, the balding and portly Irishman with ears that stick out, it would not immediately come to mind that he was incredibly talented and charismatic performer.

His playful humor and larger-than-life personality came to life when Tynan took the stage. In reference to his appearance, he said, “I auditioned to play Shrek on Broadway, and out of the hundreds of auditioners, they chose me; not for my vocal ability, but for these beauties,” motioning to his ears.

Sitting center left in the first row, it was impossible not to watch with mouth agape in amazement at his incredibly powerful voice and confidence to dance, to joke and to ad-lib in songs and on stage with the audience.

The first part of the concert featured serious or sentimental Irish folk songs, while the Christmas theme of the second part revealed Tynan’s wild personality. In “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” Tynan sang, “Here to stay, is the round bird,” rubbing his stomach, proceeding to dance with Kearns as well as individual and spirited jigs.

The final songs graced audience members with Tynan’s sentimental side in “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “God Bless America.” Suddenly, the audience began to participate; cheering, clapping and standing up, it was impossible not to be affected by Tynan’s sincere emotion.

In Halfway Home My life Til’ Now, his inspirational memoir, Tynan displays similar strength, tenacity and positivity which propelled his life incredible accomplishments into fruition.

Tynan wrote in Halfway Home My life Til’ Now: “Yes, I am a singer. But I am also a horseman, an athlete, and a doctor. I am a son, a brother, and a friend. I can sing as I do only because of the life that I’ve led. With each decade, I’ve found myself in very different, evermore challenging arenas, but the many stages of my life have always intertwined.”


  1. My husband and I have been fans of Ronan Tynan for many years and marvel at his accomplishments. Being invited to be a vocalist at the funeral of George H. W. Bush’s funeral is a testament to the outstanding individual he has become. Ronan embodies many of the traits so admired in the deceased, making him an obvious choice for this very special occasion. He was most deserving and did not disappoint.


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