September 16, 2008
Ronan Tynan
Posted by Gordon Smith

In an otherwise hectic day, I was able to enjoy my weekly ritual of trekking to the Marriott Center for the University Forum with my wife and daughter. (This is one of the great joys of my being at BYU.) Today's speaker/performer was Ronan Tynan, who has an amazing life story: double amputee, Paralympics medal winner many times over, professional singer, doctor, etc. It appears that he now makes his living as a motivational speaker, so he had the essential inventory of stories and greeting card sayings. But his singing was truly inspirational, including this beautiful song, "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears," which he performs here as one of the Irish Tenors:

I probably should add that I found this song especially moving because my maternal grandmother left Oslo, Norway for Ellis Island in the early 1900s. In 1991, my parents visited my family in Delaware, and we took them on a trip to Ellis Island, which my mother had never seen. As we rode across the harbor on a ferry, my mother stood at the bow of the ship, gazing into the distance with tears streaming down her face. She told me later that she was thinking about what her mother must have felt as she saw that island, which she associated with prosperity. I never met my grandmother, but I suspect that things didn't turn out for her quite like she imagined on that day when she arrived at Ellis Island, but I am the grateful beneficiary of her voyage of faith.

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