Tributes to ‘talented and popular’ Ryan McCaul

Ryan McCaul photographed by the Derry Journal outside his home after he'd completed the New York marathon in 2014.

Ryan McCaul photographed by the Derry Journal outside his home after he'd completed the New York marathon in 2014.

Tributes have poured in for “talented and popular” Ryan McCaul from County Derry who tragically lost his life in a collision on the main Derry-Belfast road on Monday morning.

The 31-year-old from Drum, outside Dungiven, died as he made his way to work at E&I Engineering in Burnfoot, County Donegal.

Ryan always bore a smile and never lost his sense of fun and mischief. A great friend and neighbour, he will be sadly missed

St. Colm’s GAC, Drum

The accident involved his Audi car and a Transit van on the Foreglen Road at around 6.30am.

Three other people were treated for their injuries.

Philip O’Doherty, Managing Director of E&I Engineering, said: “Ryan was a valued, talented and popular member of our engineering team. Our workforce was extremely shocked and saddened at the news. He will be sadly missed by all at E&I Engineering. Our prayers are with his families and friends at this time.”

On social media, Ryan’s friends, and those who met him, left heartfelt tributes.

One woman said: “RIP Ryan. I only ever had the pleasure of being in your company once when we got chatting on the 212 home to Derry, but I’ll never forget how much you inspired me that day after listening to the battles you overcame, your great stories of travelling the world and all of your achievements in life, living every day to the full. I’d never met someone with such a positive outlook on life. My thoughts go out to your family at this difficult time, a true gentleman.”

Ryan spoke bravely about the challenges he had overcome in an interview with the ‘Journal’ after he’d run the New York City marathon in 2014 to raise money for Action Cancer.

Ryan had battled and beat cancer three times as a child.

In 2004 he was in a car crash that left him fighting for his life; in a coma for 29 days. When he miraculously pulled through he had to learn how to walk again. While on the road to recovery, Ryan suddenly became deaf and lost his hearing. He learned sign language, as did his mum Edwina. However, after a life changing cochlear implant four years later, Ryan was able to hear.

Ryan then fought and survived Meningitis - not once but twice.

Ryan was determined to stay positive, and told the ‘Journal’: “You can never feel down about anything. Think about what you have; be grateful for what you have.”

Ryan went on to run the Chicago marathon last year, again to raise funds for Action Cancer.

Among the sports clubs to pay tribute to Ryan was St. Colm’s GAC, Drum, who said, in his younger years, Ryan “shone on the football field.” He played soccer for Burnfoot FC alongside his father Kieran and rugby for Limavady Grammar School.

St. Colm’s GAC, Drum, described Ryan as a “natural sportsman” who had played for the club as a minor “before a serious accident cut short his playing career.”

“That he survived and returned to the field for training a few years later to make an attempt at a return, was testament to his undoubted strength of character,” said St. Colm’s GAC. “No-one who knew him could ever question that. He always bore a smile and never lost his sense of fun and mischief. A great friend and neighbour, he will be sadly missed.”

Foreglen GAC said the death of their “friend” was “tragic.”

Sinn Fein Councillor, Tony McCaul, a relation of Ryan, said: “Ryan was a great fella. He’d come through a lot in his short life, but he was very easy going, very relaxed and, no matter what challenges he faced, he always had a smile on his face. Ryan loved the craic and the banter and he’d come to the clubhouse at Foreglen for the different activities. He loved a game of pool and just loved life, he really did. It’s hard to believe he is gone; a young life to be taken like that is just devastating.”

Ryan is survived by his father Kieran, mother Edwina, sister Ciara and brother Rory.

Ryan’s sister, Ciara, has launched a JustGiving page in Ryan’s memory, and to raise funds for Action Cancer, a charity Ryan had fundraised for by running two marathons.

Describing her brother as “an inspiration to everyone”, Ciara said Ryan was planning on running another marathon with their father “and we hope to honour his memory in this way”.

To donate, in lieu of flowers, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/RyanMcCaul

Mr. McCaul’s funeral will take place on Friday, December 9 in Gortnaghey.