Ryan, William Patrick (1867–1942), journalist and Irish revivalist, was born 26 October 1867 in Templemore, Co. Tipperary, son of a farm labourer. He emigrated to London in 1886 and became a journalist. He was involved in the early stages of the Irish revival in London, through acting as private secretary to Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (qv), though he was to part company with Duffy (October 1893) over a disagreement about Ryan's management of the New Irish Library project. Ryan proceeded to attack Duffy and others in his 1894 book, The Irish literary revival.
W. P. Ryan, as he was known, went on to work as literary editor for several London newspapers. He continued to take an active interest in the Irish revival, though he was sceptical about its emphasis on the Celtic. Disillusioned with Britain over the Boer war, however, he became a prominent member of the Gaelic League.
In 1905 Ryan returned to Ireland as editor of the Navan-based weekly newspaper, the Irish Peasant. He quickly ran into trouble with the catholic clergy, however, condemning a Portarlington parish priest's opposition to mixed Gaelic League classes, castigating Irish party MPs for supporting catholic education in England, and urging some lay participation in the management of Irish national schools. Under pressure from Cardinal Michael Logue (qv), the McCann family, owners of the newspaper, closed it at the end of 1906. Ryan kept his own version of the paper, based in Dublin and under a variety of titles, alive for a further four years. His socialism and support for modernist theology ensured a diminishing readership, as did his rejection of Sinn Féin which he had initially supported.
Ryan's novel The plough and the cross (1910), was a roman à clef of the disputes surrounding the Irish Peasant. By then Ryan had ceased to be a catholic, had developed a certain interest in theosophy, and was deeply committed to the Irish labour movement. In January 1911 he returned to London and to journalism with the Daily Herald. His The pope's green island (1912) is an analysis of contemporary Ireland while The Celt and the cosmos (1914) is a series of reveries and poems. In 1919 he published The Irish labour movement. He continued to work for the Daily Herald until his death (31 December 1942), having by then apparently reverted to catholicism. He married (1892) Elizabeth Boyd; their son Desmond (qv) was born the next year.