From Pomeroy in Co. Tyrone, Ryan began his musical life on the fiddle, taught by Bríd Harper. The piano soon followed in his teenage years and it is in this instrument that Ryan now specialises. Described by the Irish Times as "...the funkiest piano this side of Dr John" and a "...secret weapon on rhythm" by the Irish Echo, Ryan has recorded on many critically acclaimed albums, amongst them Humdinger, with noted musicians Paul Brock and Enda Scahill, and By Heck and Tight Squeeze as a member of the Dave Munnelly Band. Ryan has performed in major international concert venues such as Tanglewood (U.S.A.), Lucerne Hall, KKL (Switzerland), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), Holywell Music Room (England) and Waterfront Hall (N. Ireland).
Aside from international performance work, Ryan is currently studying for a PhD in composition with Simon Mawhinney at Queen's University, Belfast. Ryan is also a performance tutor at Queen’s and an experienced peripatetic tutor, teaching at workshops and adjudicating at festivals both locally and internationally and is a regular visiting tutor in masterclasses at the University of Limerick. His recent compositions include Sætre Brygge for piano, Mise Éire for eight solo voices (praised highly by Michael Finnissy and Judith Weir and to be performed by Exaudi in 2010) and a community music piece for a large ensemble consisting of a pipe band and accordion band for the commemoration of the Flight of the Earls