Death of Brendan O’Grady, PEI, RIP.
I write with the sad news that my father, Brendan O’Grady, passed away last Saturday. His funeral will be this coming
Saturday. Please share the sad news with anyone who knew Dad. He loved Monaghan and its people who welcomed him
and Mom so warmly every time they visited - This is how I received the news of Brendan’s death from his son, Thomas. He was a
gentleman and a scholar as you will see from the Obituary below. He was also the first who highlighted the fact that so many people in
Prince Edward Island were descended from Emyvale and North Monaghan families. That connection began with his wife Leah, who
passed away some years ago. Back in the late 50’s Brendan was building a famly tree for her when he
discovered that she was from the Delaney family who resided here in Emyvale village. Some of the
older people, like me. will remember the Delaney family who lived where Nelius Flynn now lives. There
was Arthur, Chris and Mary Ann and they had a little dairy business and we all arrived there with our
little milk cans to collect the milk for the day. The dairy was at the back of the house and was always
spotlessly clean and the family were quiet living and gentle in every way. Their grave is at St. Patrick’s,
Corracrin, and I had the pleasure 18 months ago of taking Brendan’s son, Thomas, to visit the Delaney
graves. He was in Monaghan for the Canada Day celebrations of 2017 and had been invited as the
Special Guest Speaker at the Celebrations. Brendan fell in love with Emyvale and Monaghan and paid a
number of visits to the area during his research and gathering of information for his major study of the
PEI and Irish connection. He became very friendly with Seamus McCluskey and they were in regular
contact with each other amd I know that Seamus will be very sad at the news of Brendan’s passing.
Brendan was 93 years of age and has been in a Home since 2017, when he suffered a debilitating
stroke. However his death came quickly and unexpectedly last weekend and he was lucid to the end
when he quietly slipped away.
Peacefully, with family by his side, Professor Brendan O’Grady, at age 93 years. Born in New York City
in 1925, Professor O’Grady was predeceased by the queen of his life, Leah (Brothers). They will rest
together under a stone engraved with the words “Companions Forever” in the old cemetery in
Cardigan. Brendan is survived by his seven devoted children and their spouses: William (Miho), Joseph (Brenda), Thomas (Katie),
Cathleen, Michael (Laura), Patrick (Lorna), and Eileen. They will remember him not only as a loving father who nurtured their dreams
and their passions but also as a dear friend. He is also survived by adoring grandchildren Marie, Eileen, Mairéad, Caitríona, Siobhán,
Willie, Brendan, Emily, Kieran, and Molly; by sister-in-law Eva Madden and brother-in-law Joseph Fitzgerald; by many nieces and
nephews on both the O’Grady and the Brothers branches of the family tree; and by his beloved cat, Danny Boy. For the past year and a
half, Brendan resided at The Mount, where he was cared for, prayed for, and loved as part of a special community of Sisters, staff, and
fellow residents. He was predeceased by his parents, William and Alice (Dignam) O’Grady, and by his siblings William Clarence, Claire,
John Lawrence, Eileen, and Mildred.
The son of Irish immigrants, Brendan O’Grady grew up with a profound appreciation for the value of education. Following his
graduation in 1947 from his beloved University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, he undertook a Master’s
degree at Columbia University while also starting his teaching career at Power Memorial Academy in New York City. Wooed north of the
border in 1948 to teach at St. Dunstan’s College, he continued his studies, receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa while at
the same time establishing himself as an integral member of the St. Dunstan’s community. First at St. Dunstan’s College and
University and then at the University of Prince Edward Island, he taught with great passion—with great love for his subject matter and
great commitment to his students. Rising to the rank of Professor and Chair of the English Department at St. Dunstan’s, he also served
as Dean of Studies and Academic Vice-President. He was a member of the Planning Committee that led to the formation of the
University of Prince Edward Island in 1969. Following the establishment of the new university, he served for many years as President of
the St. Dunstan’s University Board of Governors.
Awarded an Honorary Degree by UPEI in 1990 in recognition of his scholarly work illuminating the long and deep historical connections
between Prince Edward Island and Ireland, Brendan O’Grady was named Professor Emeritus after his retirement in 1996. Even then he
continued to teach as a much-in-demand instructor in the Seniors College associated with the University, offering a variety of literature
courses—on poetry, on Shakespeare, and, perhaps needless to say, on Irish literary topics. In 2012, he was presented with a Queen
Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal honouring his long career as educator and scholar.
In addition to educating three generations of Islanders in the university classroom, Professor O’Grady pursued an active scholarly
agenda focused mostly on Irish literature and culture. He became a particular advocate for the novella “The Weaver’s Grave,” a
neglected masterpiece by Seumas O’Kelly, a contemporary of James Joyce. His most enduring scholarly project, however, is his book
Exiles and Islanders. Published in 2004 by McGill-Queen’s University Press, this is the definitive account of the Irish settlers on Prince
Edward Island. A true labour of love and an adventure in research and writing shared with his wife Leah, Exiles and Islanders might be
considered as his gift to the Island that he adopted as home and that adopted him in return. A founding member of the Celtic Heritage
Association of Prince Edward Island and the Patron of the Benevolent Irish Society, Professor O’Grady remained active in Island cultural
circles to the very end of his life.
Resting at Belvedere Funeral Home until Saturday at 12:45, then to the church of the Most Holy Redeemer for funeral mass at 1 pm.
Visitation on Friday from 4-7 pm. Memorial donations may be made to PEI Humane Society or the QEH.
This Obituary has been taken from www.belvederefh.com