“IT’S very poignant that this photo is here, given that our family is living on both sides of the Atlantic, between America and Ireland, and we come through here often, and to think that Dad will be here to welcome us and send us off is very, very special and it means an awful lot.”
These were the words of Brendan Grace’s daughter Amanda on Tuesday, as a photograph of the late and much-loved comedian was unveiled and put on the Wall of Fame at Shannon Airport, in the presence of many members of his family.
Brendan was a long-time friend and supporter of Shannon Airport and he met with management earlier this year to organise adding his photograph to the gallery but illness prevented it being progressed at the time. However, at the wishes of his family following his sad loss in July, a 4ft x 4ft picture is now in place.
“He was close to 50 years coming through this airport and I’ve been coming through this airport all my life, as we all have. We have been very well looked after in this airport over the years, particularly by the Aer Lingus staff,” a visibly emotional Amanda added.
Brendan’s wife, Eileen, told The Clare Champion she has received countless messages from people, who had special individual stories about her late husband.
“The house is filled with flowers. The cards are still coming in, the sympathy cards, but funny enough, in every card, almost every card, there’s a letter. And the letter is explaining to me how Brendan touched their family’s lives. It might have been something small, it might have been something big but everybody has expressed how Brendan touched their lives. So yeah, it’s very comforting.”
Just weeks after his death, she is still coming to terms with her loss.
“It’s still hard for me to believe and I’m still dealing with the sadness and the loss is huge. So I just have to keep busy and just keep continue doing lots of things that he left on his wish list. I’m going to make sure that they’re all completed and we’re getting there. We’re getting through it. This [having the picture installed at Shannon] is one of the big ones.”
She described the occasion as bittersweet, while she said it came about following an event in
Wexford in 2018.
“Brendan had it in the pipeline for some time, a couple of months. He’d been talking about it for years and always saying ‘I must look into this and find out how I go about this’. And so it all happened last year while we were down in Wexford. He was put up on the Wall of Fame in the Irish American Museum, down in New Ross. We met some people there who knew all about this and that’s where the ball started rolling.”
Eileen knows that the shortening days are introducing what will be a particularly lonesome winter for her. “At the moment, we’re busy but I’d say the winter is going to be very hard, with lonely evenings because I was always used to being on the road with Brendan. You’re always coming and going, coming and going. And for me now it’s… I just have to learn to have a new life. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but I’ll fill it with my own family and my grandkids and, you know, I’ll get there but I’ll miss him forever.”
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cathal Crowe attended the unveiling and paid tribute to the late comedian, who was such a well-known figure in Killaloe.
“Eileen, Amanda and all the Graces, your dad was a fabulous man. And although Dublin can really claim him probably from birth, I think we’ve very much adopted him as an honorary Clareman.”
He joked about the times when he chose Brendan Grace’s pub as a venue to make himself available to constituents. “I used to hold clinics in the pub at one point and I’d be hoping no-one would be coming in to meetings because the chat over the counter was an awful lot more interesting than the issues that were coming in,” he told the attendance, to much laughter.
Acting Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine said that Brendan had a long association with Shannon and was hugely popular there.
“Brendan was a very dear friend to Shannon, having flown through here for many, many years. He got friendly with an awful lot of the staff, used to refer to the place as Rineanna. Eileen was just saying to me how proud he was of the place and he wanted Shannon to succeed and to fight for Shannon.
“It saddens us that he’s not here today for this unveiling because this was in the planning for a while. But it was great fun the day he was in here taking the pictures with the staff about six months ago. So it’s a really great honour.
“I’m so delighted that Eileen and Amanda and the family are here today and facilitating this for us because we really are so proud that Brendan’s picture will be on the wall and will bring joy and laughter to many, many people,” she concluded.