Newport G.A.A. Field bears the name Páirc Chuimhneacháin Pádraig Uí Riain (Paddy Ryan Memorial Park). It commemorates the name of Paddy Ryan (Lacken) who was born in Knockfune, Toor, Newport in 1898.
Paddy Ryan was the son of Matt Ryan, whose family and whose ancestors were associated with every National Movement. One of his uncles, Canon M.K. Ryan was chairman of Tipperary County Board and Árdán Uí Riain in Semple Stadium commemorates his memory. Growing up in such an environment, it was natural that Paddy Ryan would inherit a love of everything Gaelic. He discontinued his college studies at an early age to take up arms against the ‘Black and Tans.’ In 1918 he had attained the rank of Captain in the Revolutionary Movement (Company ‘C’, 6th Battalion, Tipperary No. 1 Brigade, 3rd South Division, I.R.A.).
By 1920, Paddy Ryan was one of the most ‘wanted men’ in the Tipperary-Limerick area and his fame was rapidly spreading. The British did everything to eliminate him, but to no avail. “Lacken” appeared to be everywhere at once, directing attacks and ambushes on British outposts. Reprisals were to follow, with his home burned to the ground and his father taken hostage. Such tactics only increased his determination, but soon his health began to fail, and at the time of the truce of 1921, he was ill but still undaunted.
After the ‘Split’ in I.R.A. ranks, he fought on the Republican side with the same old spirit and determination. 1923 saw him elected to Dáil Éireann, but he did not serve in this capacity. He left Ireland for America in 1929 and established himself as a successful business man. He continued to take an active part in various Irish movements until his untimely death in 1944.
Paddy Ryan was buried in his adopted country, but a committee was set up to honour his memory in his homeland. A widely representative Memorial Committee decided to perpetuate his memory at the newly acquired G.A.A. Field in Newport. The impressive entrance to the field was designed by Mr. W. Morrissey, Clonmel. Local contractor, Mick Rainsford erected the imposing walls and piers. Joseph Cavanagh, Abbey Foundry, Nenagh executed the splendid ornamental wrought-iron entrance and railings.
The official opening of the Park was performed on Sunday 21st May
1950 by Dr. Andy Cooney, Dublin, an old comrade-in-arms of Paddy Ryan and a native of Ballyphilip, Nenagh. Tipperary and Limerick played a hurling tournament game in the new field to honour the occasion.