Grieving mum pays thanks after poetry book launch

Grieving mum pays thanks after poetry book launch

7 April 2021

A BOOK of poems written by the mother of a Killyleagh man who died following an attack outside a Portaferry pub has gone on sale.

Jayne Macrae was moved to write poetry after the two men responsible for the manslaughter of her only son Ryan (32), who died on October 23 in 2018, were sentenced in January.

Jordan Donnelly, 21, of Ardminnan Road, Portaferry, and Robert Kiernan, 30, of Princetown Road, Bangor, initially denied murder but later pleaded guilty to manslaughter. They were jailed for eight years and nine years respectively.

Over £400 has been raised within days of the book, My Life in Rhyme, containing 49 poems, going on sale last Thursday.

All proceeds will go to the charity REVIVE which helps the intensive care unit at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, where Ryan lost his fight for life nine days after suffering brain injuries in the attack.

Rowallane councillor Billy Walker encouraged Jayne to write a collection after seeing the response she received after she posted some on social media.

He was also instrumental in securing the sponsorship from Downpatrick  food producer Dennis Lynn, from Finnebrogue Artisan, to help with the publication costs.

Jayne — who is also from Killyleagh — revealed that it was her sister Lynn’s suggestion to channel her depression and grief into writing her feelings down which led her to write the poems.

“When I began to write, I had no intention to write poetry. I was just putting thoughts down and all the lines came out in rhyme,” she said.

“For the two years I was sitting here at home, I was vegetating, which is not like me. I didn’t want to do anything. I knew Ryan would have said to me, ‘Come on Mum, catch yourself on’”.

Just four months before Ryan died, the mother of two lost her father.

One of the poems in the collection is based on the special relationship between them both.

“We understood that Daddy at 90 had a good innings but the worst of it all was that he and Ryan were such good friends and so close,” she explained.

“I got Ryan cremated but his ashes lie with his Papa so they are together and friends forever now. Knowing the two of them are together has helped me.

“It was a very traumatic time, but losing a son has been the ultimate and most horrific experience I can ever express to anyone, especially by the means in which it was done.

“Not only that, one of the boys who did it is now appealing his sentence. He only got four and a half years in prison and the rest out on licence. That shows there is no remorse. If I had done something like that, I would be saying, ‘Right lock me up’, I would be horrified.

“The judicial system in this country is ridiculous. Four years for murdering someone? I know they say it wasn’t murder but it was in the end.”

Another poem, called The Gift, is about a locket of her son’s hair that she kisses every morning to help her get through the day.

Jayne was in New Zealand visiting her daughter Rebecca, who had just had her first baby at the time of the attack on her son.

“It took me three days to travel back from New Zealand, knowing my son was seriously ill in hospital. I was literally shaking the whole time,” she recalled.

“Ryan’s father, my ex husband Gordon, had flown from England to be with him. We both sat by his bedside when Ryan was stable enough for us to be in the room.

“I can’t commend the ICU team of doctors and nurses enough who worked with my son. They were amazing but, unfortunately, Ryan’s brain injury was too severe.”

Jayne, who is working on a second book of poems, says of her son: “Ryan was actually very shy but once you got to know him, he was always joking around and had a big smile on his face. You would never see him without a guitar and loved to write music and lyrics.”

She thanked Cllr Walker and Mr Lynn for helping to get the bookpublished and is full of praise for the Killyleagh community.

“The people of Killyleagh have absolutely amazing. They are truly a wonderful people,” she said.

“The support they have given me was unbelievable, even today they would still ask me how I’m getting on, can they help? When something bad happens, they really rally round big time. Ryan’s friends in Portaferry where he lived have also been so supportive and I thank them all.”

Cllr Walker said: “I would like to thank the book’s sponsor, Dennis Lynn and Finnebrogue Artisan, for without his help we wouldn’t been able to publish the book.

“I would like to pay tribute to Jayne for she has penned so many poignant poems and it’s an excellent collection. I would encourage people to buy the book as it’s for a worthy cause.”

My Life in Rhyme costs £5 and can be bought at the Spar Filling Station, Barrett’s and local chemist, Gabbies, in Killyleagh and in McCann’s General Store in Killinchy.