Ryan, John Archibald (1915–89), joint managing director of John Power & Son, and governor of the Bank of Ireland, was born 27 August 1915 in Tipperary, second son among three sons and two daughters of William Ryan (1875–1957), distiller, of Dublin, and his wife Philomena (d.1959), daughter of Paul Smith-Steinmetz of Dublin. He was educated at St Gerard's School, Bray, Co. Wicklow (1925–9), Ampleforth College, Yorkshire (1929–34), and Trinity College, Cambridge (1934–7). After graduating BA (1937) he returned to Ireland, where he took up a position in the accounts department of the family distillery, John Power & Son Ltd, to gain experience in finance and management. After tenures in various positions within the company, he became joint managing director (1955–66) of the distillery with his cousin, Frank O'Reilly (b. 1922). At the time John Power & Son, John Jameson, and Cork Distillers were the last three distilling companies in the Republic of Ireland. This was largely due to the failure of whiskey exports to recover after the period of prohibition in the USA.
Intense rivalry between the three distilleries in competing for the home market in the 1950s meant that the export market had remained neglected. Realising that the future of the distilleries in Ireland depended on the resurrection of the export business, Ryan became the driving force behind a proposal to merge the three companies. He believed that a new group, having a virtual monopoly in the domestic market, could combine its resources to concentrate on the export market. By bringing the process to a successful conclusion he persuaded the three distilling families to bury nearly two centuries of rivalry through the creation (1966) of United Distillers of Ireland (later the Irish Distillers Group (IDG)). Given the competition between the three families, the position of managing director of the new group was given to an outsider, Kevin McCourt (qv). In 1972 the last distillery in Northern Ireland, Bushmills, joined IDG. Subsequent to the merger Ryan became a director (1966–88) of IDG and retained his position until Pernod-Ricard purchased the group in 1988. In 1974 IDG moved all whiskey production in the Republic of Ireland to Midleton in Cork. Ryan thus oversaw the closure (1976) of the family distillery that had stood on the same site since 1796.
Having been appointed a director of the court of auditors of the Bank of Ireland in the early 1950s, he became governor 1958–61. He subsequently became the only person to be reappointed to the position when he resumed office in 1970, and served two consecutive terms (1970–76). In addition he was director of the ESB for a record number of years. He also lent his management skills to charity work by chairing both the management committees of St Vincent's Hospital and the board of Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin. In 1975 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the NUI for his role in developing the research centre at Crumlin. A dedicated sailor and all-round sportsman, he was a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Carrickmines Lawn Tennis Club, and Carrickmines Golf Club. He was also a member of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland and the Kildare Street Club. He died 26 September 1989 in Dublin.
He married (10 April 1940) Sybil Margaret, daughter of Dr Maurice Drummond of 22 Upper Fitzwilliam St., Dublin. They had four sons and one daughter and lived at Shrewsbury Rd., Dublin, and from 1966 at Homefield, Kilmacud, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. The original site of the family distillery is currently the campus for the National College of Art & Design. Although most buildings were demolished, the counting house (built 1871) on Thomas St. and three of the pot stills, located in the grounds, still remain.
His sister Veronica Ryan (1921–66), founder and headmistress of the Children's House Montessori School, was born 26 June 1921 in Dublin. She was educated at the Sacred Heart Convent, Mount Anville, Co. Dublin, where her aunt, Alice Ryan, was reverend mother. While attending Mount Anville she came to share the interest of her aunt in the education of young children. Through her aunt she subsequently met and studied under Mother Veronica Power of the Sacred Heart School, Monkstown, who had a keen interest in the ideas of the pioneering educationalist Maria Montessori. Mother Power encouraged Veronica Ryan to travel to Italy to study under Montessori on the understanding that rooms would be made available for a new Montessori class at the Sacred Heart, Monkstown, on her return.
After spending a year (1947–8) under the tutelage of Montessori she returned to Ireland, where she ran (1948–50) a small Montessori establishment at the Sacred Heart School, Monkstown. Having decided to found an independent establishment, she was initially given the use of rooms (1950–52) at her father's house, Thornhill, Kilmacud, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. As the enterprise became a success and the number of pupils grew, the facilities became inadequate and she decided to found the first custom-built Montessori school in Ireland. She made a trip to the Netherlands to purchase the most sophisticated teaching equipment for the time and persuaded her father to donate part of the grounds attached to his house. The Children's House Montessori School was thus completed in 1952 with Veronica Ryan as its first headmistress.
She later built a house, Homefield, beside the school, where she lived until her death. She never married and died of pneumonia 6 April 1966. After her death her brother, John Archibald Ryan, moved into Homefield.