There was just a fleeting reference to the “trauma” suffered by dentist John O’Grady when family, friends, colleagues and patients packed the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount, Dublin yesterday for his funeral Mass.
The celebrant, Fr John McDonagh, said the “world knew the trauma he suffered, but he never spoke about it and got on with the job and his creative acceptance of life.”
The only other link to the terrible events of 1987, when he was kidnapped and had two fingers cut off by terrorist Dessie O’Hare, was another of the celebrants at his funeral Mass, Fr Brian D’Arcy, who acted as an intermediary for his then father-in-law, Dr Austin Darragh, during the kidnap drama.
The well-known dentist, who died on Tuesday at the age of 67, after a two-year battle with cancer, was remembered as a sports-loving father and friend to almost everybody he met. One of the class of 1966 at Clongowes Wood College, he built a large dentistry practice and worked in the Blackrock Clinic until illness prevented him.
Last month, he walked his daughter Louise down the aisle when she became the last of his children to marry.
His brother Willie said that he was known as ‘Long John Silver Tooth’ during his rugby days because he’d had a tooth knocked out and his father, also a dentist, insisted on him wearing a silver cap to protect his other teeth.
As well as being honorary dentist to the Irish rugby team for many years, John O’Grady continued to play the game with the UCD Hogs in ‘golden oldie’ competitions.
“He was a gentle man, he acquired friends like bees make honey,” said his younger brother. “He was probably the only dentist in the world people looked forward to going to see.”
A reflection written by his partner, Rachel Fehily, a barrister and playwright, was read by Fr McDonagh.
“He was an inspirational father figure to my two boys Harvey and Jack,” she said.
“John’s illness gave us an opportunity to express how we felt about each other in a different way. Little things that might have annoyed us, like how he loaded the dishwasher, became trivial, as they always should have been”, while pleasures such as swimming in the sea together “became very precious”. The thing she learned most from John was “we should treat everyone around us with kindness, care and consideration”.
The other celebrants at the funeral were Fr Bruce Bradley, Fr Michael Sheil, Fr Noel Barber and Fr David Coghlan from Clongowes Wood College and Fr Pat Carroll.
John O’Grady was cremated at a private ceremony. He is survived by his partner Rachel, his children Darragh, Anthony and Louise and their mother Marise.