Denis Joseph Patrick Ryan, B.A.
Doctor of Letters
While he may seem more at home playing penny whistle or singing Celtic folk songs than completing deals in the investment community, appearances can be deceiving at least in so far as Denis Joseph Patrick Ryan is concerned. Irish musician turned successful businessman, he is easily recognized as one of Canada's leading performers, who helped to establish traditional Celtic music throughout North America, England, and Australia.
Born in Newport County, Tipperary, Ireland, he immigrated to Toronto in 1969. Of the city, he said it was too much of a shock so moved his family to St. John?s, Newfoundland, where over the next few years, he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. It was here that the ever-popular group, Ryan?s Fancy, was founded; and over the next thirteen years, recorded a dozen albums and also had a television series in Canada, Ireland, and the United States. Much to the disappointment of their loyal fans, in 1983 the group was disbanded because, as Ryan himself said, ?I was getting a bit tired of the music business and I was beginning to loose my love of music and entertaining. No matter how good or how rewarding it is, it gets monotonous. I always wanted to do something that was totally different. I wanted to think more just to prove to myself that I could do other things. He then turned his attention to sales, which he says is something like singing you have it or don't! Currently, he is Director of Marketing for Altamira Investment Services Inc., listed as Canada's fastest growing mutual fund company and which has risen from relative obscurity three years ago to become the eighth largest group of funds in the country. While his chief focus may now be in the business world, he has not entirely laid aside his love of music in that three years ago he released a solo album entitled Mist Covered Mountains and is also involved as a co-owner of Piper's Pub in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, which he feels will be a step on the long road back for Celtic music in the province. He identifies with the Atlantic Canadian music scene and says it has been gratifying to see Nova Scotia Celtic music gain international recognition through people like Rita MacNeil, the Rankins, and the Barra MacNeils. He says it's time Nova Scotians recognized the value of having a string indigenous culture and learned to use it to their advantage. We talk about tourism and stuff and I think it's a lot of lip service. What we really have to offer the world is our culture Black culture, Acadian culture, but especially the Scottish culture in North-eastern Nova Scotia.
In addition to music and his business pursuits, he is also recognized as a ?do-gooder,? a man ready to lend a hand whenever he detects a need in numerous community projects. Currently he is the Nova Scotia National Chairperson of the Fund Raising Committee for the D?arcy McGee Chair of Irish Studies at Saint Mary?s University, the spokesperson for the Victoria General Hospital?s Fund Raising Drive, and Vice-Chairperson of the of the Danny Gallivan Scholarship Fund at St. Francis Xavier University.
The Ryan family undoubtedly be guests at the 1995 Spring Convocation at Saint Mary?s when one of their daughters, Catriona, is expected to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree.