Tributes to Limerick scholar of history who taught at Cambridge

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

The late Brendan Bradshaw: one of the first Catholic priests to study at Cambridge in almost 400 years

The late Brendan Bradshaw: one of the first Catholic priests to study at Cambridge in almost 400 years

POIGNANT tributes have been paid to the late Cambridge scholar, Marist Father and proud Limerick man Rev Dr Brendan Bradshaw who has passed away at the age of 80.

Reared in the heart of St Mary’s Parish, Father Bradshaw had deep rooted, widespread and ongoing family connections to his home city.  The late priest lectured in Mary Immaculate College (MIC) during the 1970s, where he played an instrumental role in establishing the institute’s history department. 

He became one of the first Catholic priests to study at Cambridge in almost 400 years and went on to spend most of his professional life teaching at the renowned institution. 

He grew up just off Newgate Lane, attending primary school in Creagh Lane, and secondary school in Sexton Street CBS. 

Both his father, Kevin, and grandfather, James were city councillors, with his father Kevin twice elected Mayor. His mother, Annie Harrison, was brought up on Athlunkard Street. 

His grandfather Jim started the Murphy and Bradshaw Mineral Water business in Denmark Street, which developed into the well-known soft drinks brand of OLO Minerals- Our Lady's Own. He joined the Marist Order, an order of priests with a special devotion to Mary, in 1960. He went on to achieve a BA Honours degree in Irish and history and an MA in history at the University College Dublin (UCD).

At his requiem Mass, fellow scholar Professor Eamon Duffy said that Father Bradshaw’s brilliance was spotted by his UCD professor Rev FX Martin, himself a priest, who encouraged him to study at Cambridge. Following his ordination in 1969, he received a scholarship to complete his PhD at the university.  

His Cambridge supervisor Geoffrey Elton came to consider him as the brightest of all his pupils. “If you have any idea of the roster of distinguished tudor historians Elton trained, you'll grasp what an accolade that was,” Professor Duffy said. 

While lecturing in MIC in the 1970s, Father Bradshaw also worked closely with other historians in the city. According to his colleague Dr John Logan, he had a clear vision of what a unified history faculty in Limerick might achieve if the colleges pursued common goals.

Father Bradshaw is predeceased by his sister Ann Power, survived by his brother John and sisters Maire Bradshaw-Tierney and Claire Scott-Lennon, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews and cousins.