John Rice, class '83
The news that John Rice had passed away, following a heart attack, was met with an atmosphere of total disbelief amongst his friends. At that time John was still coming to terms with the loss of his Mother and he was completely devoted to his father. It was not possible to spend any time with John, without hearing about his plans with “Dad”, the celebrated Bobby Rice. He was preparing to move into Clyde Lane, which had been renovated to cater for Bobby upstairs and John downstairs. This was the intended design, so that both could be by each other’s side, but still have their own privacy and space. John frequently discussed his plans for the future there, and even his own eventual retirement to Cavan (this used to humour me greatly!). A few days before John’s death, we had lunch in Donnybrook; he was his usual incredibly entertaining self that day, but I remember he did mention that he was concerned about his weight, and that he had taken steps to manage it. He certainly did not appear to be overweight.
John was a man of well renowned style, always dapper, with an eclectic taste for the finest offerings. He had many gifts, and high up there was his ability to laugh at himself. He used to enjoy recanting the many pains of his recent follicle transplant, and making comparisons to his thatch, versus Louis Walsh’s. The gift that I envied most was his ability to always find the very best in others, and defend them with a tactful resolve. A recent example being, where I had complained of my disappointment with a mutual friend whom I felt kept some pertinent information from me. John started with his “we are all wired differently Andy” defence and shortly had me realising that the simple issue was that I had allowed myself to be disappointed. John had become very successful in his business life, and he always provided support to struggling designers and antique dealers….his apartment was decorated and adorned with such a fine collection of artwork and antiquities that he should have provided guests with a brochure. Though unfortunately, his Vodka Martini’s were so potent, I used to joke that they could cure alcoholism.
John was privileged with a wide selection of friends and he remembered Castleknock most cheerfully. He would regularly tell me happy stories about some of his classmates, and for those of you that didn’t know, it was due to Declan and Gearoid Dunne, of the neighbouring well renowned pub “Bartley Dunne’s” that sealed the S.V.C. path for John. It was a source of much pleasure to Knock men leaving the College, that amongst their lot were the sons of two of the finest city centre hostelries, and indeed in Rice's case, that pleasure extended to many generations of Royal College of Surgeons students. And even though, he may not have seen many of the old gang regularly, John was always smiling when he talked of his school days. On one of our last late nights out, he spoke very highly about the late Fr. Denis O’Donovan; I remember this conversation well, as I was so surprised to hear it.
For those of you that knew John well, you will understand me when I say, that John could talk for Ireland. He was a highly intelligent gentleman, and I am so very proud to have been his friend. I will always cherish the memories of his conversations and the many many laughs we had; especially all those occasions when himself and Ed Finn would spend hours trying to steal the show from each other. They were truly priceless events.
He returned to Dublin after spending much of his twenties and thirties in London. He regularly reminisced about those times and occasionally reflected that he was fortunate to have survived the intense partying lifestyle, but he if he was here now, for one last line, it would definitely be
“Je ne regrette rien”.