Tomás Ryan was born in Dripsey in 1944, attended the National School in Dripsey until 1957, then Presentation Brothers College in Cork until his education ended in 1960.
His working life started on his brother Con’s farm until he joined Denis Coakley & Co Ltd where he worked from 1968 to 1979. From there he joined Dairygold and worked until 1997, from which time he devoted himself full-time to his council duties.
He had first been elected to the Cork County Council as Inniscarra’s representative in 1979 and was continually returned until he retired in 2009. In the period 1999/2000 he was honoured to serve as Mayor and Chairman of the Cork County Council, and he will be remembered for his devotion to his work on behalf of his neighbours. He is very proud of his involvement in the period of transition over the Millennium and the fact that he served as Chair in two momentous years bridging the centuries and the millennia.
Tomás is also remembered for his outstanding sporting career, in which he achieved the highest honours. He played hurling with Inniscarra and enjoyed major success during a lengthy career, which started when he joined the club as a boy in 1955 and, as Tomás himself puts it, has not finished yet!
In 1975 Inniscarra reached the junior championship decider after winning the divisional crown. Tomás was at wing-forward as Inniscarra defeated Ballymartle by 5-7 to 3-8, which won him a Junior Championship medal.
He came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Cork County senior hurling team in the 1968 Championship. He made his debut in the provincial decider that year as Cork were defeated by Tipperary. In 1969 Cork bounced back. The defeat of Wexford in the decider gave Tomás his first National Hurling League medal. Cork then went on to defeat old rivals Tipperary in the provincial decider, thereby winning for Tomás a first Munster Championship medal. The All-Ireland final, however, proved to be a step too far and the Cork team were defeated by Wexford, after a thrilling game, by 2-15 to 2-9.
In spite of the All-Ireland defeat, Cork regrouped during the 1969-70 National League. It was a successful campaign for the Rebels as they defeated New York, giving Tomás his second National Hurling League medal. The championship campaign culminated with Tomás winning his second Munster medal as they defeated Tipperary by 3-10 to 3-8.
The All-Ireland Final was a thrilling affair with a record 64 points being scored and with Cork eventual winners by 6-21 to 5-10, Tomás collected his coveted All-Ireland medal, to add to the two Munster Championship Medals and two National League Medals. He was also an All-Ireland runner-up on one occasion.
Croke Park - 6th September 1970
Attendance 65,062 Referee: J Hatton (Wicklow)
C McCarthy (1-9)
E O’Brien (3-1)
T Ryan (0-6)
W Walsh (1-2)
C Cullinane (1-0)
G McCarthy (0-2)
R Cummins (0-1)
P Quigley (2-0)
T Doran (2-0)
D Quigley (1-0)
D Bernie (0-3)
M Butler (0-3)
T Byrne (0-2)
M Browne (0-1)
M Jacob (0-1)