When Molly Ryan—the twenty-two-year-old victim of a brutal murder on the 29th of March—was nine years old, she was already telling everyone who would listen that she wanted to live in London. Molly had seen a rare touring performance of London’s Royal Ballet in Belfast, the nearest big city to the semi-rural idyll where she was raised, and immediately fell in love with the art form. From that point forward she was unstoppable, her brother Patrick reports with a sad smile: “a force of nature in a tutu.”
There were lessons, of course, but as the closest “good” teacher—Molly was determined, even as a child, to be around the best—was not only in Belfast but at the other end of Belfast, relatives took turns driving her to her twice-weekly lessons while she did her homework (or “sometimes” did her homework, according to Patrick). It was only in her later teens that recurring stress fractures in her right foot forced her to give up her dream of dancing professionally.
The dream of London, however, remained. Molly considered simply looking for work in the city—she was “sick of school,” says Patrick, “and just wanted to live”—but her mother didn’t want her to defer a university education. Molly agreed to pursue her degree but worked at the same time, first as a dance teacher and later as a server at Diablo, a local club. She is remembered in both places as outgoing, fun-loving and, while not afraid of a fight, quick to forgive.
Molly loved London and defended it against all critics, including her brother, who admits he “gave her a hard time about it.” Her enthusiasm for the city transcended traffic, the Tube, the hordes of tourists, the expense. It was a “great love affair,” says Patrick. “Though the city let her down, in the end. I did too.” Though Patrick says he appreciates the outpouring of grief at her death—the mounds of flowers, the profusion of photo albums, the touching speeches—he thinks there is only one way for London, and for him, to do right by Molly now: by finding the person or people who killed her.
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