Five of Michael Ryan's seven brothers and sisters had planned for months to make the trip from their homes in Ireland to his in Kentucky on Labor Day weekend.
They had planned a reunion of sorts to spend time and enjoy life with their affable and playful brother Michael, his wife Kathy, and children Kaitlyn and Colton in Lexington.
Instead, they had to bury Michael, one of 49 people killed in the crash of Comair Flight 5191.
In a service that drew 200 people to Central Christian Church in downtown Lexington, the family's favorite stories of Michael Noel Ryan were carefully recounted by the Rev. Carol Rawls.
One of his brothers-in-law called him the "the party waiting to happen." His sister-in-law, Tracy, said he had a "heart the size of Kentucky" -- whose rolling and rugged green hills always reminded Michael of Ireland.
And his sister Phyllis Harris had taken comfort in knowing that after bouncing back from a heart attack in May, Michael, 55, had found a "new maturity."
In fact, his thirst for living each day to the fullest was only amplified after that scare, Rawls noted. "One of the most significant things I heard was that Michael was a huge force," she said. "And that somehow, as sad as all of this is, thinking about him makes you smile. And I hope that will continue."
Then Rawls, looking toward the Ryan family in the first two pews, said that Michael's oversize personality surely has made an impression upon heaven.
"What I'm sure of," she said, "is that the party's already started."