The following stories were shared by Dermot O’Brien (Monsignor’s nephew) during our 2011 OPPG Conference.
The stories shared by Dermot let us peak into the private family life of our beloved Monsignor and are real jewels to cherish for all Pedro Pan. We want to thank the Walsh family for generously sharing him with us once again!
TONY WALSH (Monsignor’s younger brother):
Bryan was the eldest of the family, I am the youngest. All the mischief was contained in my sisters and me, he was a model son and never put a foot wrong. My mother had a lovely story about the occasion he took her to Paris. She was very excited as she had studied French as a girl and this was her first flight. Of course she was quite nervous too. After take-off she searched her handbag for the Rosary beads but instead of comforting words all she heard was “It’s too late for that now. We are 20,000 feet in the air” I recalled his words many years later when we travelled with him to Mexico City. Coming in to land he happened to mention that this would be a scary time due to the terrain around the Airport and the temperament of the crew.
Of course, we landed safely and he went on to enjoy many more flights all over the world. I have no doubt it was his faith and trust in the Lord that saw him through the many adventurous challenges he took on.
PHYL WALSH (Monsignor Walsh’s sister in law) Married to Tony Walsh
Bryan loved moveable objects like boats, planes, automobiles and even bicycles. He learned to pilot a plane as a teenager and made great use of that skill during his years in Florida. On one of our holidays with him he persuaded me to board a light aircraft and take a tour of South Florida. Of his prowess as a pilot there was no doubt but taking his hands off the joystick to point out places of interest below was one of the most frightening, never to be forgotten experiences of my life.
When he retired and we holidayed with him on his houseboat I watched him cast off from jetties, man oeuvre through locks and berth in difficult situations, admiring his discipline and strength. On one occasion he even allowed me to take the helm and steer his lovely craft down the Shannon River. Sweet memories.
Jennie (Monsignor’s niece)
My uncle Bryan was a tall man and as a young shy girl, I remember I was terrified to talk to him. Despite this, I have wonderful memories of our family holidays in Miami and spending Christmas with him in Ireland. Like my brother Peter, some of my memories include feeling under the weather but most of these were due to travel sickness through a trip in an aero plane or in a boat. He warned me plenty of times about not sitting below deck but of course, I didn’t listen. One of my greatest memories was having Bryan come to Australia to officiate at my wedding to Paul. The day before the wedding, Bryan asked Paul if he would like him to hear his confession and Paul replied that that was not necessary as “I don’t sin”. Bryan laughed and tapping him on the head replied “I wish they were more of us like you”. To me, this epitomizes that no matter what your beliefs or values may be; Bryan was always respectful of them. And he would be glad to know that over the years I have become a better traveler.