There were warm tributes paid this week to the late Billy Brady at his funeral Mass in St Michael’s Church in Portarlington. He was 87 years of age.
Originally from Fentor in Killeigh, Billy had lived with his wife Mary in Portarlington for over fifty years.
The couple were married on August 27, 1968 and celebrated their golden jubilee this time last year. They originally lived in St Brigid’s Square before building their own home and moving to Droughill.
The congregation heard that Billy was affectionately known by family and friends as ‘The Man from Laramie’, not just because as a young man he bore a striking resemblance to the actor who played the original Man from Laramie in the 1950’s western, Jimmy Stewart, but because everywhere he went Billy just tried to help people with good deeds.
Hence the affectionate moniker, ‘The Man from Laramie’, for a man also known for his easy-going disposition.
The funeral Mass was concelebrated by Fr Tom Dooley PP along with Fr Dick Tobin, a family friend. The service also saw some reflections of Billy’s life and interests as music and singing were also prominent.
Billy was a member of the musically talented Brady family from Killeigh and a lifelong member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann.
Billy instilled a love of Irish traditional music in his family and his seven grandchildren are actively involved in Comhaltas today.
His late brother, Johnny Brady was also renowned for his musicianship. There was a big turnout of Comhaltas members from across the midlands.
His other brother Paddy was among the mourners which included a large contingent of prison officers, as Paddy himself was a much respected member of the prison service before his retirement. He was also a member of the Portarlington Choral Society.
The late Billy Brady and his wife Mary have lifelong associations with community activity, charities and organisations in the town.
There was a guard of honour from the staff of Portarlington Credit Union at the funeral as Billy was a former treasurer a long serving board director.
He was a staunch GAA supporter and his coffin was draped by a Killeigh GAA jersey, as he loved the game of hurling. He enjoyed the banter of the inter-county Laois-Offaly rivalry.
He was fond of a game of cards, perhaps something else in common with the old western movies. He was also a talented craftsman and carpenter and after he qualified emigrated to England in the 1950’s.
Returning to Ireland he started work in Portarlington in Turley’s Builders and later Sweeney’s before taking up employment in the CIE sleeper plant in Portlaoise as a foreman carpenter. To this day one of the workshops on that site is referred to as ‘the Bill Brady shed’.
Delivering the eulogy, John Brady, his nephew said that Bill would leave a big void for his family but also leaves a great legacy, including a distinctive laugh that his children had all inherited, and as long as they laughed Billy wouldn’t be far away.
Billy was a staunch Labour man too and canvassed in general elections right up until the last one in 2016. His father-in-law was the much loved Portarlington Labour councillor, Ned Kelly.
There was a request for family flowers only at the funeral and there was a donation box for Portarlington Meals on Wheels.
Bill Brady is survived by his wife Mary, his son Paul and daughters Imelda and Sinéad; brother Patrick; sisters Liz and Emelda; sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, seven grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, auntie Mag, nieces, nephews, relatives, neighbours and friends.
His burial took place in St Michael’s Cemetery, Portarlington on Thursday last, August 8.
SEE ALSO – Deaths in Laois – Monday, August 12, 2019