The recent death of Dr. Brendan O’Grady has removed from us a truly great mind. Already, in New York City by age 12, he was riding all over town observing, listening to people and asking them good questions. Coming here to SDU in 1948 for a two-year term in the English department, he remained grounded here for the rest of his life.
A gifted teacher in a subject he so loved, he encouraged his many students to observe how the great writers in English literature, especially the poets, brought forward in their magical way the ins and outs of everyday life that so many people routinely miss.
Brendan was surprised to find on P.E.I. so many people, like himself, of Irish descent, even some in places like Emyvale and Fort Augustus still having the old-country accent. Gradually he covered the Island – and indeed Ireland – like the dew, listening to and observing the folklorish ways of so many people. Combining this with solid research over a 20-year span and more, he brought out in 2004 his first-rate Islanders and Exiles, the Irish Settlers of P.E.I., the triumphs and tragedies of these residents so often forgotten.
Above all, however, it was Brendan’s faith and his beloved wife, Leah, which highlighted his long life here. Their large family will now carry the torch. Well done, good and faithful servant, for whom life is changed, not ended. Companions forever.