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Brady, John, 1935-2014, Jesuit priest

  • IE IJA J/849
  • Person
  • 03 September 1935-15 April 2014

Born: 03 September 1935, Dublin
Entered: 07 September 1953, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 10 July 1968, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1973
Died: 15 April 2014, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1970 at St Beuno’s Wales (ANG) making Tertianship

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/jesuit-economist-honoured/

John Brady SJ was conferred with an Honorary Fellowship by the National College of Ireland on Friday 20 Nov,’09. Many former colleagues, Jesuits and friends were there to celebrate his achievement. John Brady SJ spent thirty years of his life at the NCI which was formerly known as the National College of Industrial Relations, based in Ranelagh. According to Dr Tony White of the Milltown Institute, who gave the citation, John Brady was a moderniser. He said it was mainly during his time that the college moved from being a college of adult education to a mainline third-level institution. He also oversaw the employment of lay staff along with Jesuits.”That expansion of course increased the cost base but John’s skills extended to ensuring that the College increased its financial resources to pay for this expansion. He may have had a vow of poverty, but he understood money. After all he is an economist!” Click here to read the full text of Tony White’s speech.
Citation for Reverend John Brady SJ on the occasion of the conferring of an Honorary Fellowship by the National College of Ireland , 20 November 2009
It is very appropriate that we should today be conferring an honorary fellowship on Father John Brady. John Brady is somebody who has made an immense contribution to developing this college and bringing the National College of Ireland to its present position, and it is right that we should acknowledge this contribution in a tangible way.
John Brady is a northside Dubliner. He was educated at Kostka College in Clontarf. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1953. Following two years of novitiate at Emo he continued his studies of economics and history at University College Dublin where he graduated in 1958. Three years of the study of philosophy followed at Tullabeg, after which he spent four years teaching at Crescent College in Limerick and Belvedere College. He then went to Milltown Park to study theology and was ordained there in 1968.
He came to this college in 1970; at that time it was known as the National College of industrial Relations and was located in Ranelagh. He would remain a member of the college staff for thirty years. During his first two years he completed a master’s in economics at University College Dublin. In 1972 he was appointed Director of the College and he held that position for ten years.
John Brady was a moderniser. During his time as Director NCIR made the transition from being primarily a college of adult education to becoming a mainline third-level college. The College had opened as the Catholic Workers College in 1951, and it developed from the skills and contacts of a small and remarkable group of Jesuits in the 1950s and 1960s.
Most of them were still at the College when John joined the staff. He built on the tradition they had established. He consolidated relations with the social partners, and the National College of Industrial Relations became a meeting point for unions and management. John Brady helped to make it very much a crossroads and a good place for what we now call networking.
The College built up a unique niche for itself in industrial relations nationally. John had the diplomatic skills to enable the College to maintain good relations and respect with both sides of industry, no mean achievement in the Ireland of that time. The traditional links with the trade union movement which had been there from the beginning were built on further , and in addition the College became a nationally recognised centre of excellence for teaching what was then referred to as personnel management, and what is today called human resource management.
That was the point at which the College made the transition to becoming a third level institution. John Brady saw the need for external accreditation and recognition of the College’s awards and under him NCIR had its first experience of state recognition with the National Council for Educational Awards, the forerunner of what is now HETAC The National Diploma in Industrial Relations Studies achieved recognition in 1976. This was a major breakthrough because there were at that time many, including a number of influential public servants, who were reluctant to see private colleges like this college achieving state recognition. Under John planning also began on the next phase, which was the move upwards to degree work which took place in the 1980s. These steps constituted the largest and most important transformation in the College’s history and they happened under John’s leadership.
While John was the driver in transforming the College into a third level institution and meeting all the quality inputs, demands and targets that this required, it was also a priority for him that the College would not neglect its roots and that its newly acquired status would not choke the important role which it had always given to access, to looking after those who were often overlooked by the rest of the higher education system. For him the commitment to access, to ensuring that people could have a second chance at achieving their potential, was something of a mission. He ensured that this would remain a college where so far as possible every individual, regardless of what their previous educational history had been, would be afforded an opportunity to develop their full potential. More than anyone else he helped maintain that balance which saw this college achieve genuine third level status, while at the same time maintaining that commitment to offering a very wide level of access to higher education that has put NCI into the unique position nationally which was recognised by the OECD report in 2004.
By the same token John was good at spotting talent, and good also at letting people have their head. In his time as Director the staff grew significantly and he was the one who introduced the first cohort of lay staff. Previously the staff had been almost exclusively Jesuit. That expansion of course increased the cost base but John’s skills extended to ensuring that the College increased its financial resources to pay for this expansion. He may have had a vow of poverty, but he understood money. After all he is an economist.
John Brady has also during his career been a regular contributor to newspapers and journals on economic and social matters. His primary interest was economics, but he was one of those economists whose scope was wide and who wrote on political economy and the social impact of economic decisions and trends. He was also one of those people who reflected and wrote about how the problems of Northern Ireland might eventually be brought to resolution. He was not just a highly practical and effective administrator but by his writing and his activity in the public arena he helped to create the acceptance of this college as one where serious scholarship and intellectual reflection took place.
Asked what characterised John Brady, one of those who worked with him in the early years of the College suggested that he was somebody who offered calm leadership to very strong individuals. He is indeed a calm, gentle and courteous man, a widely – read man and someone with a great interest in music. You are liable to bump into him regularly at the National Concert Hall. Nevertheless behind that gentle exterior there was the passion, the determination, the steel and the vision that tend to be marks of successful leaders of complex institutions like this College.
It is fitting then that this serious scholar and far-seeing manager should be numbered among the honorary fellows of this College, and it is my privilege and pleasure to commend Father John Brady SJ for this distinction.

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 156 : Summer 2014

Obituary

Fr John Brady (1925-2014)

3 September 1935 : Born in Dublin
Early education at Holy Faith Convent and Kostka College
7 September 1953: Entered the Society at Emo
8 September 1955: First Vows at Emo
1955 - 1957: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1957 - 1961: Tullabeg - Studied Philosophy
1961 - 1963: Crescent College, Limerick - Teacher
1963 - 1965: Belvedere College - Teacher
1965 - 1969: Milltown Park - Studied Theology
10 July 1968: Ordained at Milltown Park
1969 - 1970: Tertianship at St. Beuno's
1970 - 1984: College of Industrial Relations
1970 - 1972: Lecturer; Post-grad. Studies in Economics (MA from UCD)
1973 - 1982: Director of CIR; Lecturer
15 August 1973: Final Vows
1982 - 1983: Sabbatical year
1983 - 1984: Lecturer in Economics at C.I.R.
1984 - 2014: Gonzaga College - Lecturer in Economics at NCIR; Writer
1987 - 1994: Lecturer in Economics at NCR; Writer; Research Lecturer
1994 - 2000: Chaplain and Lecturer in Economics at NCIR; Writer; Research
2000 - 2001: Writer; Research Lecturer
2001 - 2004: Co-ordinator, Cherryfield Lodge; Sacred Space contributor
2004 - 2010: Co-ordinator, Cherryfield Lodge; Prefect of Health; Writer
2010: Prefect of Health. Assistant Chaplain Cherryfield Lodge; Writer, Emeritus
2010 - 2011: Assistant Chaplain at Cherryfield Lodge; Writer, Emeritus Lecturer at NCI
2011 - 2012: Emeritus Lecturer at National College of Ireland.
2012 - 2014: Resident, Cherryfield Lodge. Prayed for the Church and the Society

Fr. Brady was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on 26th October 2012 when he needed nursing care. His condition deteriorated over time, more so over the last couple of months. He died peacefully before 6:00 am on l5th April 2014. May he rest in the Peace of Christ

Fr John Brady died in Cherryfield Lodge on 15 April, at the age of 78. The big crowds at his Removal and Funeral Mass were a reminder of his range of interests, and of the affection with which so many regarded him. He was educated at an interesting school with Jesuit roots, Kostka College in Clontarf, founded and managed by Louis Roden who had been a Jesuit novice. John entered the Jesuits at 18. Son of a civil servant, with roots in Cavan and Meath, his Jesuit life was mainly centred round the College of Industrial Relations, where he was first a lecturer in Economics, then director of the college from 1973-1982, then, for a further 17 years, lecturer and chaplain. His publications, in clear and dispassionate prose, centred mainly on questions of economic and social policy, in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.

He had joys and interests outside his work, notably in art, tennis, music and sailing (he was active in the Glénans organisation, first as an apprentice sailor, later as an instructor). John was open-minded, supportive of younger colleagues, and with a keen curiosity about the world he lived in. As a scholastic in Crescent College in 1962, he had shown a capacity for strategic thinking and action. Brendan Staunton, then a Fifth Year pupil, remembers how John was introduced to the tennis team as their new coach. “He looked the part, with his dazzling head of blond hair. His speaking style however was new to us, and his knowledge of tennis sounded esoteric, most un-Limerick-like. The team progressed to the final, in which they beat Glenstal. At a school assembly John Brady was acclaimed for his shrewd knowledge of the game and his team. What we didn't realise until well after our win was something John Brady did behind the scenes. Glenstal had played their previous rounds on hard courts. John quietly managed to have the final played on grass, in the Club where four of the team were members. And that made all the difference!”

In his homily at John's Requiem Mass, Bill Toner noted the same capacity for strategic thinking:

I was only head-hunted once in my life, and that was by John, who had just been appointed Director of the College of Industrial Relations. He was very strategic in his approach to the job. One aspect of that was that he kept an eye out for young Jesuits who might be persuaded to work in the College. I had studied accountancy in my younger days, and John had just finished designing a National Diploma course in industrial relations which included a subject called 'Financial Control Systems'. So I was quickly in his sights. Anyway the result was that I spent 17 happy years in the CIR, and for the first seven John was my boss.

John was great to work with. When I look back at it now I imagine he must have found me insufferable at times, but he never showed it. He was very humble, and that is why the Beatitudes came to me when I was suggesting a Gospel for the Mass. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. I was full of new ideas when I arrived and I must have frequently strayed onto his patch, but he never pulled rank or said I am the boss here. He seemed to enjoy the contribution made by the various young Turks, Jesuit and lay, who came to work in the College. He was not himself a revolutionary by temperament, but he was greatly fascinated by people who wanted to shake things up and rock the boat and was always ready to give them their head. The result was that there was a great atmosphere of freedom and bold ideas in the College. Lecturers were, to my knowledge, never reined in. If a lecturer was reported to have said something outrageous, rallying people to the cause of the class war or something like that, John would find it amusing rather than shocking. He presided every week at extraordinary faculty meetings - I mean extraordinary in the sense of bizarre rather than unscheduled - which Fr. Bill McKenna used to call the weekly blood letting. These were an occasion for outrageous statements and the taking of indefensible positions. I don't think John could always have found these amusing, but he presided over them with great calm and dignity. I think he regarded them as part of the cut and thrust of academic life. It is said that Henry Kissinger was once given a choice between being president of an American university or working to solve Vietnam conflict and he chose Vietnam as the less stressful of the two. In the end indeed the pressures of being Director of the College for nine years began to tell on John and he gave up the job in 1981, confining himself after that to lecturing in economics.

As Director, John had a great relationship with the students. He took very seriously the characteristics of Jesuit education which have been developed over centuries. In the current Jesuit document on education we can read: The human person, understood in the context of his or her eternal destiny, is the central focus of the Jesuit college. Jesuit education insists on individual care and concern for each person. It invites each student onto their unique journey of personal, moral and spiritual development. Our Mission is to help the students grow holistically. John really believed in that. He encouraged us on the staff to get to know all the students personally, never regarding meetings with individual students as a waste of time. In the early days many of the trade union students had left school at 14 but John was always quick to spot potential and he would talk to them and encourage them to go as far as they could and as far as they wanted to. Many people owe the flowering of their personal academic development to the College and to John. John brought the same concern for the personal care of students to his work as a member of the board of Greendale Community School in Kilbarrack.

John was every inch a Jesuit. He loved the Society. I could say that he was very faithful in going to functions in various Houses, but it was much more than that – he really enjoyed meeting the brethren. In fact he was exceptionally good at meeting people from all walks of life and maintaining firm friendships. He had great friends in the trade union movement, and also in management. John was not naïve. He knew that there were many people in the trade union movement who didn't trust the College and what it was doing, seeing it as an effort to de-radicalise the trade union movement. On the other hand he knew that there were employers and managers who didn't like us because we were giving their workers strange ideas and teaching them to speak up for themselves. The college brought many of these people, managers and union officials, together under the one roof. I can remember one occasion when the lights were on all night in the college. It marked a pause for breath during an E.S.B. strike. The College was chosen as a neutral venue where the E.S.B. unions and management could hammer out an agreement, which they did at 7 a.m. A number of commentators, some critical and some not, have suggested that the College played an important role in developing the concept of partnership in the conduct of industrial relations in Ireland. Although national wage agreements may now be a thing of the past, they probably played a crucial role in the steadying of the ship after some of the disastrous and destructive labour and management disputes of the 60s.
It is interesting to note that seven national wage agreements were negotiated during the period that John Brady was Director of the College. Although John was not directly involved in these, he and the College were definitely making a contribution, big or small, to the creation of a climate where people in industry could talk to one another. John had so many interests outside the College that it would be impossible to list them all. He was a man of deep culture. He had Norah McGuiness paintings hanging in the College tea room before most people had even heard of Norah McGuiness. He loved the theatre and good books. He was passionately interested in politics. He came to the College just as the conflict in Northern Ireland broke out, and he was a leading member of the Jesuit network, Jesuits in Northern Ireland, where he made very thoughtful contributions, with interesting angles on difficult questions. Blessed are the peacemakers - John tried his best to be a peacemaker whether in the field of industrial relations or in the Northern Ireland conflict.

John's basic discipline was economics, and he did his master's degree in the economics of transport in Ireland, a subject which fascinated him. He was an academic in the best sense of the world, not because he liked arguing about arcane concepts, but because he could see the power of ideas-and-solid-arguments to bring about change. He was a very popular lecturer in the college. Remarkably, considering his success as a Director, he suffered from a very bad stammer, and nothing showed the determination in his character more than his refusal to let that prevent him from doing anything he wanted to do, whether it was saying a public Mass, or giving a public lecture, or addressing the students at conferring. It was in itself a lesson to all of us not to let some real or imagined problem pull us down. Again, only a very humble person could deal with something like that – he was not too proud to let his fragility show.

John was a very generous person, and could rarely resist helping a poor person who asked him for help. Some would say that he was generous to a fault, but perhaps that accusation would also be laid at the feet of Jesus Christ. St Paul said of Jesus: "Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. I don't think John's generosity was a fault that he needed to worry about when he went to meet his maker.

It was sad that John's last years were blighted so much by illness and by memory failure. A time like this is a good time to remember him at his very best, as a good and talented and prayerful Jesuit, to thank God for the contribution he made to the economic and cultural life of his country. We pray for the consolation of his relatives and friends, especially Luke, his brother, his sister in law Catherine, his niece Lisanne, and his nephew Colin. And we pray for John himself that he is now at eternal peace with God.

Bill Toner