By John Egan
Brian McDaid TCRG, ADCRG, originally from Derry, was best known for his lifetime involvement in Irish dancing, particularly for several decades as an adjudicator at local, national and international competitions. I first met Brian in the mid-1980s at a small local feis. Since then our paths crossed, not surprisingly at several other competitions in the UK and Ireland, including the world championships in Ennis. He will undoubtedly be sorely missed by the Irish dancing fraternity, but he will also be missed on other fronts where his charitable work was largely unsung.
When we first met I knew vaguely about his charitable work in connection with Romanian orphans. I suggested that an account of his work should be published. He was reluctant however to seek any personal publicity and in his usual self-effacing manner he spoke only of the work of his sister Monica in this area in conjunction with others such as Daniel O’Donnell and wife Majella. On learning of Brian’s death I asked Monica to fill me in on Brian’s role.
As part of the Birmingham Catholic Partnership of secondary schools, Monica had returned from delivering humanitarian aid to an orphanage in Romania. On her return home she could not get images of the desperate and abandoned young people out of her mind. This led to her setting up a charity known as the Romanian Appeal. She told me that “from the outset, Brian was there for me; fundraising through all his network of friends and work colleagues. He was also part of the team which challenged Anneka Rice and went to Siret, Romania where he brought smiles to the faces of those disabled young people, singing to them, interacting with them and most of all working so hard to clean up and renovate the dire conditions in the orphanage.
The most poignant moment of his time in the orphanage was when a young lad asked Brian who was dressed as Santa, ‘Did God send you?’ He was overwhelmed by this and broke down in tears.
Over the next number of years, Brian was there, supporting the Charity through continued fund raising, but also travelling to Romania to carry out maintenance work. He never hesitated in his response to help the Charity.
On one occasion the Charity found itself in a difficult position – they needed a ‘Plasterer’ to complete work on the first house that was built for 12 disabled young people. At this time plastering with westernised materials, was a skill not mastered by the Romanian workforce. Brian had already given two weeks of his time to work on the house and was due to return to Birmingham with the rest of his work team, but the job was not finished. As selfless and generous as ever, Brian decided to stay for another week and finished off the job. This was Brian, not counting the cost, only thinking of others and wanting to ensure these young people had a new home in which to live.”
Brian also touched the hearts of those from the Irish community living in Bucharest. He taught Irish dancing to a number of Romanians working in the Irish Consulate. This was in preparation for the Irish Concert that was due to take place on St. Patrick’s Day.
Brian will be missed on many fronts for his dancing, singing, charity work, fund raising and helping to give a new life to many unwanted and abandoned young people. He will be sadly missed by his widow (Teresa Kennedy originally from Longford), by his children AnneMarie, Colette and Vincent, by his six grandchildren, and by his two brothers and three sisters.
Funeral arrangements are, Thursday 21 January, Reception to St Anne’s Church, Bradford Street, Birmingham B12 0PB. Friday, 22nd January requiem mass at 9.30am. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílís.
12 January 2016