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Professor Brendan O'Grady


Professor Brendan O'Grady
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.
Service Date
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Service Time
1 p.m.
Service Location
Church of The Most Holy Redeemer

November 30, 2018
Visitation Time
4-7 p.m.
Visitation Location
Belvedere Funeral Home

Burial Date
December 2, 2018
Burial Location
All Saints Parish Cemetery

Requested Charity
Humane Society PEI or QEH