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