WHILE the end of November as a time to give thanks is traditionally an American holiday, Eileen Grace, wife of legendary Irish comedian Brendan Grace, was thankful for the long-awaited opening of the comedian’s exhibition in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
“It was absolutely fabulous,” Eileen told The Irish Mirror, noting that it was the fourth attempt to launch the exhibition, complete with memorabilia from Brendan’s impressive 50 year career.
Associated with the holiday season, especially for his beloved New Year’s Eve special, Eileen said that despite the delays, “I think that the timing is perfect. It’s amazing how things work out,” with the Christmas lights adding to the atmosphere.
‘Brendan Grace and Bottler, The Liberty Boys’ is the latest addition to the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware.
The exhibit features the iconic costumes Brendan wore while performing, including Bottler – the naughty schoolboy, Fr Fintan Stack from the TV series Father Ted, and the “Drunken Father of the Bride” from many of his gigs.
“You get a great sense of Brendan when you walk in, you know it’s him,” Eileen added.
“Pauline Doyle [the curator] and all the crew at Newbridge did an absolutely amazing job. I walked in this morning, and my god, it was just stunning.”
After Brendan’s death in July 2019, Eileen and her daughter, Amanda, were bagging all of his gig gear and storing them in the home garage. By chance, Eileen said to Amanda: “One day, they might be in a museum.”
A couple of weeks later, Eileen received the first phone call from Pauline Doyle who asked her if the family would be interested in the exhibition.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Eileen admitted.
“Gathering all his memorabilia, it was a great project for me to keep my mind busy. I felt that it kept Brendan very present for me.”
More than just a collection of costumes, the exhibit also features DVD clips of his shows and musical performances, as well as pictures of meetings with the renowned figures such as Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr and former US president Bill Clinton.
Fans will be able to sit down and look through the pictures of Brendan with the likes of John Denver and Prince Albert of Monaco, as well as his younger Gingermen days.
“When I see them all here together now, with his costumes and all his photographs, I feel like it’s home away from home. It’s like Brendan’s room,” Eileen said.
A personal highlight for Eileen was the sense of elegance surrounding Brendan’s memory.
“I know Brendan always looked very dapper in his clothes, but he looks so elegant. It’s just beautiful to see,” she said.
Despite it being out of her comfort zone, Eileen felt that Brendan was with her “egging me on” throughout the process. She also hopes that the joy she has felt will be shared by Brendan’s fans who have their own memories of the sociable comic star, from meeting him in the foyer after his shows.
“It’s such an honour. I’m so proud of the whole situation and the whole family is very proud.”
- ‘Brendan Grace and Bottler, The Liberty Boys’ runs at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware until spring 2022. It is open seven days a week and admission is free.