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Tynan still hurt over the leaving of New York

LIFE in the Big Apple has turned sour on Kilkenny tenor, Ronan Tynan, but even if he has moved to a new base in Boston he hasn't given up on New York or its people.

Not so long ago the Johnstown man was the toast of the city that never sleeps. He rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, including President Bush and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

During America's grieving after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack on the city, Tynan was the singer of choice at several of the high profile memorial services.

And he had one of the most treasured gigs in the city, singing 'God Bless America' in Yankee Stadium before Major League baseball league games. New York was his oyster.

That was the story in the past. The present is different.

"I won't cut all ties with New York," Tynan told the 'People when he gave a frank and revealing interview on perhaps the biggest controversy ever involving an Irish person in the famous city.

"No, I love New York. I love the people there. I spent 10 years there. A lot of New Yorkers are very troubled over the way this was put forward."

'This' centred around a casual remark made by the tenor that led to him being branded an anti-Semite in a city that is home to the world's largest Jewish population outside Israel.

"I was threatened by people," the singer revealed. "There was a threat on my life and some nasty stuff."

Backing from President Bush

He received huge backing and support, including from former President Bush who came out in defence of the Irish singer. However, on the streets, in restaurants and via e-mails, the nastiness flowed.

In March the singer decided he had enough. He upped roots and moved to Boston, a move, he insisted, he had been contemplating for some time.

"It is a chapter in my life that I have had to move on from," Tynan said during a break on a concert tour in Ireland that will finish with a grand finale in The Hub, Cillin Hill, Kilkenny on Thursday week (June 17).

Had the move to Boston anything to do with this incident, one asked?

"You would have to say yes. You would have to say yes," he repeated. "It had of course. I was going to move two years ago. I had planned to go to either Chicago or Boston. Boston was the right move for me."

Boston has already embraced Ronan Tynan and he has landed a hugely prestigious gig. When in New York he regularly sang the national anthem in Yankee Stadium.

Now he will do the same on Independence Day in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, who would be regarded as perhaps the fiercest rivals of the Yankees.

"If America saw it that I was an anti-Semite, do you think the Red Sox would have me singing on July 4," he said in defence of his situation.

The turning of New York centred round a remark made by Ronan Tynan to an estate agent that was overheard by a Jewish woman who took serious offence.The after shock was huge.

In was early October 2009 in an apartment block in Manhattan. An estate agent Tynan had befriended was selling an apartment beside the one owned by the Kilkenny man.

Two Jewish ladies were viewing the property and Tynan said he decided to make some small talk.

He asked the women did they like the apartment. They said they did.

He said that was great and he explained that he would be their next door neighbour, adding that he was a singer and he played music.

He felt the demeanour of at least one of the ladies changed. They were not impressed, he thought.

Accused of being anti-Semite

Three weeks later another estate agent arrived on the scene. Having heard that the apartment had been sold to an English man in the meantime, Ronan Tynan made an inquiry. They were speaking across a distance of about 150 yards.

The estate agent explained that the property was in contract, and he added that the prospective buyer "was not a Red Sox fan".

"So I said that whatever about that, at least they are not the two Jewish ladies," the singer said was his response. "This woman then pops up around the corner and said why would you say that. I said that would have been scary, and I kind of giggled.

"Suddenly I am being accused of being an anti-Semite," Tynan explained.

The story spread like wildfire in the media.

The New York Daily News announced the story to its readers with the headline: 'Ronan Tynan's tongue causes trouble as Yankees sack Irish tenor's appearance'.

The opening paragraph of the story continued: "Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sings a first rate 'God Bless America' at Yankee Stadium, but his attempt at telling a joke offended a Jewish doctor who found it to be anti-Semitic.

The story continued: "Tynan apologised, telling WNBC, 'I would never want to hurt anybody's feelings. It was stupid of me to be so callous.'

"But the Yankees still cancelled his appearance at the Stadium Friday night," the Daily News added.

Tynan hasn't been heard at Yankee Stadium since.

Was there an agenda, one wondered.?

"I have no idea," Mr Tynan replied. "If there was an agenda I don't know what it was."

Are you still perplexed by the whole thing?

"Let's face it, Irish people are very good at joking and laughing," he said when he took up the story. "I think everyone was stunned by the reaction to what was a relatively innocuous remark. We Irish are self depreciating. We joke and laugh.

"We kind of have a cut at each other. But no one takes anyone too seriously. I realised very quickly after that that you have to be aware of other sensitivities.

You have to be careful

"The other point is, and you have to be careful, you cannot say you have Jewish friends because if you do they will claim you are labelling."

He learned this when he argued the case that three members of his band in America were Jewish and that he has a lot of close colleagues who were Jewish also.

"Irrespective of that, I can tell you here and now there is not a bigoted bone in my body. Most of New York knows that," he insisted.

Tynan said that the woman who overheard the remark has since come and said she wished him all the best in the future. He said that was fine.

"You have got to understand that people are never going to say exactly that they might have misunderstood you, but in her terms, that is the best she can do," he said.

Subsequent to the affair, Ronan Tynan sang at the Anti-Defamation League dinner, a Jewish watchdog group in New York. The President of the group, Abraham Foxman issued a statement saying Tynan should not be punished endlessly because he was "a good man".

Still, some in New York continued to cold shoulder the Kilkenny man.

In recent times the Yankees, through chairman of the Board of Yankee Global Enterprises, Hal Steinbrenner, made overtures. Tynan appreciated the move, but sadness and disappointment remain.

"The Yankees didn't allow me clear myself," he said when he opened on the latest development in the story. "They closed the door. They rang me back six months later, about two months ago just before opening day, and the chairman Hal Steinbrenner said you got a bum deal and it is embarrassing to us, but life goes on.

"That is his quote. He said this would all blow over and everything would be fine in the long run. They half hinted to me by another source that it was all going to be fine."

The singer wasn't impressed. If the Yankees were not willing to accept his side of the story having been with them for 10 years "knowing who I am, and who I am not" there wasn't much point to it all.

Water under the bridge

"I believe there is a point where you say that is fine, it is water under the bridge and flowing water flows. I thought it was very interesting he rang up and said you got a bum deal and it was embarrassing to us. I thought that was hilarious."

Tynan was asked why he hadn't tried to call the chairman and sort it all out when the story erupted. He said he had, but he was told he (the chairman) wasn't available.

"Here is what my biggest contention with him is," he continued. "He knew there was nothing in my character, in my life, that was anti-Semitic or bigoted. They knew that.

"For them to take a brief encounter and take that person's interpretation of what I am literally in about 15 seconds as opposed to someone they knew for 10 years hurt.

"I am Irish. We have memories like elephants. I don't wish them any harm. I am delighted the team did well (Yankees won the 2009 World series). I am thrilled. But I could have been treated differently."

Meanwhile, back in the family base in Donoughmore, Johnstown, Ronan Tynan is enjoying life again. He is coming to the end of a tour involving nine concerts, and the reaction at all venues has been warm and enthusiastic.

"Kilkenny is the last one, the finale," he said with warm anticipation. "I am really looking forward to it. This is a chance for me to help the parish, and the hurling."

The concert is being promoted by the Fenians (Johnstown) GAA club to help finance proposed developments in the parish.

The singer will be backed by the Barrack Street brass band from Waterford for part of the concert, and then by his friend from America, Bill Lewis on piano for the second part of the show.

Mario Lanza favourites will feature, as will a number from 'The Boss', Bruce Springstein, plus a song Tynan sang when auditioning for the show Shrek on Broadway. He made it into the final five in that instance.

"I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities of the Hub and the challenges it presents," said Tynan of his first visit to the venue. "It should be a great old Kilkenny evening. No matter where you travel or who you meet, there is no place like home.

"It is not until you are away from Irish people that you really realise they are a great old bunch. There is a great nature about them. They don't take themselves too seriously. I have to salute the Irish people the way they supported me. They really, really did."

Ronan Tynan's concert will be in The Hub at Cillin Hill on June 17. The after shock was huge.

In was early October 2009 in an apartment block in Manhattan. An estate agent Tynan had befriended was selling an apartment beside the one owned by the Kilkenny man.

Two Jewish ladies were viewing the property and Tynan said he decided to make some small talk. He asked the women did they like the apartment. They said they did.

He said that was great and he explained that he would be their next door neighbour, adding that he was a singer and he played music. He felt the demeanour of at least one of the ladies changed. They were not impressed, he thought.

Accused of being anti-Semite

Three weeks later another estate agent arrived on the scene. Having heard that the apartment had been sold to an English man in the meantime, Ronan Tynan made an inquiry. They were speaking across a distance of about 150 yards.

The estate agent explained that the property was in contract, and he added that the prospective buyer “was not a Red Sox fan”.

“So I said that whatever about that, at least they are not the two Jewish ladies,” the singer said was his response. “This woman then pops up around the corner and said why would you say that. I said that would have been scary, and I kind of giggled.

“Suddenly I am being accused of being an anti-Semite,” Tynan explained.

The story spread like wildfire in the media.

The New York Daily News announced the story to its readers with the headline: “Ronan Tynan’s tongue causes trouble as Yankees sack Irish tenor’s appearance.”

The opening paragraph of the story continued: “Irish tenor Ronan Tynan sings a first rate ‘God Bless America’ at Yankee Stadium, but his attempt at telling a joke offended a Jewish doctor who found it to be anti-Semitic.

The story continued: “Tynan apologised, telling WNBC, ‘I would never want to hurt anybody’s feelings. It was stupid of me to be so callous.’

“But the Yankees still cancelled his appearance at the Stadium Friday night,” the Daily News added.

Tynan hasn’t been heard at Yankee Stadium since.

Was there agenda, one wondered.

“I have no idea,” Mr Tynan replied. “If there was an agenda I don’t know what it was.”

Are you still perplexed by the whole thing?

“Let’s face it, Irish people are very good at joking and laughing,” he said when he took up the story. “I think everyone was stunned by the reaction to what was a relatively innocuous remark. We Irish are self depreciating. We joke and laugh.

“We kind of have a cut at each other. But no one takes anyone too seriously. I realised very quickly after that that you have to be aware of other sensitivities.

You have to be careful

“The other point is, and you have to be careful, you cannot say you have Jewish friends because if you do they will claim you are labelling.”

He learned this when he argued the case that three members of his band in America were Jewish and that he has a lot of close colleagues who were Jewish also.

“Irrespective of that, I can tell you here and now there is not a bigoted bone in my body. Most of New York knows that,” he insisted.

Tynan said that the woman who overheard the remark has since come and said she wished him all the best in the future. He said that was fine.

“You have got to understand that people are never going to say exactly that they might have misunderstood you, but in her terms, that is the best she can do,” he said.

Subsequent to the affair, Ronan Tynan sang at the Anti-Defamation League dinner, a Jewish watchdog group in New York. The President of the group, Abraham Foxman issued a statement saying Tynan should not be punished endlessly because he was “a good man”.

Still some in New York continued to cold shoulder the Kilkenny man.

In recent times the Yankees, through chairman of the Board of Yankee Global Enterprises, Hal Steinbrenner, made overtures. Tynan appreciated the move, but sadness and disappointment remain.

“The Yankees didn’t allow me clear myself,” he said when he opened on the latest development in the story. “They closed the door. They rang me back six months later, about two months ago just before opening day, and the chairman Hal Steinbrenner said you got a bum deal and it is embarrassing to us, but life goes on.

His quote

“That is his quote. He said this would all blow over and everything would be fine in the long run. They half hinted to me by another source that it was all going to be fine.”

The singer wasn’t impressed. If the Yankees were not willing to accept his side of the story having been with them for 10 years “knowing who I am, and who I am not” there wasn’t much point to it all.

“I believe there is a point where you say that is fine, it is water under the bridge and flowing water flows. I thought it was very interesting he rang up and said you got a bum deal and it was embarrassing to us. I thought that was hilarious.”

Tynan was asked why he hadn’t tried to call the chairman and sort it all out when the story erupted. He said he had, but he was told he (the chairman) wasn’t available.

“Here is what my biggest contention with him is,” he continued. “He knew there was nothing in my character, in my life, that was anti-Semitic or bigoted. They knew that.

“For them to take a brief encounter and take that person’s interpretation of what I am literally in about 15 seconds as opposed to someone they knew for 10 years hurt.

“I am Irish. We have memories like elephants. I don’t wish them any harm. I am delighted the team did well (Yankees won the 2009 World series). I am thrilled. But I could have been treated differently.”

Meanwhile, back in the family base in Donoughmore, Johnstown, Ronan Tynan is enjoying life again. He is coming to the end of a tour involving nine concerts, and the reaction at all venues has been warm and enthusiastic.

Kilkenny the last show

“Kilkenny is the last one, the finale,” he said with warm anticipation. “I am really looking forward to it. This is a chance for me to help the parish, and the hurling.”

The concert is being promoted by the Fenians (Johnstown) GAA club to help finance proposed developments in the parish.

The singer will be backed by the Barrack Street brass band from Waterford for part of the concert, and then by his friend from America, Bill Lewis on piano for the second part of the show.

Mario Lanza favourites will feature, as will a number from ‘The Boss’, Bruce Springstein, plus a song Tynan sang when auditioning for the show Shrek on Broadway. He made it into the final five in that instance.

“I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities of the Hub and the challenges it presents,” said Tynan of his first visit to the venue. “It should be great old Kilkenny evening. No matter where you travel or twho you meet, there is no place like home.

“It is not until you are away from Irish people that you really realise they are a great old bunch. There is a great nature about them. They don’t take themselves too seriously. I have to salute the Irish people the way they supported me. They really, really did.”

Ronan Tynan’s concert will be in The Hub, Cillin Hill on June 17.

 
 
 

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