Friday 23 August 2019

Brendan Grace had special bond with County Wexford

The late Brendan Grace with Lourde Connick at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross in 2018
The late Brendan Grace with Lourde Connick at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross in 2018

Pádraig Byrne

There was an outpouring of grief right across the country last week as news broke of the passing of beloved comedian and entertainer Brendan Grace.

The Dublin native was a regular visitor to Wexford and had been scheduled to perform in Gorey and Rosslare this summer before suddenly taking ill.

Wexford held an extra special place in the comedian's big heart. A cousin of fish merchant Jimmy Meyler, Brendan fondly recalled visiting his uncle Jamesie Meyler as a child and helping him to man the truck on many trips to Dunmore East. Coincidentally, it was at a show in the Talbot Hotel that he met his wife, Eileen Doyle. The pair loved to get to Wexford and for a time, they even had a mobile home for family holidays in Carne. Brendan and Eileen were inseparable, something that was noticed by anyone who encountered them.

'He was always great to deal with and wherever he went, his wife Eileen was with him,' said promoter Brian Byrne of Lantern, who only had Grace for a show at the Spiegeltent last October. 'He'd always make sure she was sorted for everything first before he'd go and do his sound-check and all that. It was really sweet.

'He always told the story of how they met in the Talbot Hotel and whenever he was down for a gig, he always asked to stay there.'

The legendary comedian certainly made an impact on Brian who shares a wonderful story about him. 'He did a thing that's never happened to me before or since,' he recalled. 'When we first got him to do a show back in 2013, he was living in America at the time. A few weeks later, a letter arrived in the post with an American stamp on it. It turned out to be a hand-written letter from Brendan thanking us for the booking and looking after him so well and wishing us all the best with the rest of the gigs we were putting on. In all the years it's the only thank you note I've ever got. I always thought a lot of him after that.'

At the time of Grace's performance in the Spiegeltent last year, he had just been discharged from hospital after a month down with pneumonia. Once he hit the stage though, he was the same old Brendan, rattling off the legendary punchlines with characters such as 'Bottler' coming to the fore.

'He had been in hospital for about a month, but he felt everything was going well and he wanted to do the show,' Brian said. 'He was in great form and he went out and delivered what can only be described as a two hour comedy master-class. Everybody knew the jokes, but they still laughed. It was all in the way he delivered them. My Dad is a lifelong fan of Brendan's and he was at the show and he got to go back and meet him. I'm thrilled he got that opportunity. Brendan will be sorely missed in the industry and a lot of comics out there could learn a lot by just watching videos of his delivery.'

Gorey Guardian