MacBrady History

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The MacBrady Clan

This Essay was inspired by notes published by P. MacDermont MD in the Anglo-Celt, County Cavan, Ireland,
30 December 1852.

According to historians, the O'Brady clan, or more correctly, the MacBrady clan, was an ancient group principally domiciled in the eastern region of county Cavan, Ireland. The Gaelic spellings of the Brady clan name is Mac Brádaigh (Mac Brady), Ó Brádaigh (O'Brady), or Brádaigh (Brady). The Mac Bradaigh clan was a very powerful sept, and ruled the territory Cúl Brighde, which is to the east of Cavan Town, or East Breifne, for more than seven centuries. Today, there are many thousands bearing that name to be found in that region and around the world.

In former days, the MacBrady clan contained persons of note. Many of them became eminent ecclesiastics including Bishops of Kilmore; and down to this day, clergymen of the MacBrady, O'Brady and Brady name are numerous and most respected in that diocese. Most noteworthy of the MacBrady clan was Field Marshal Baron Thomas O'Brady.  Thomas O'Brady received a classical education and was also a gifted mathematician. His early ambitions were originally intended for the Church and to this end he set out for Prague to study theology at the celebrated University of that city, where many Irishmen who became eminent ecclesiastics had earlier received their education, whilst several of whom had risen to distinguished professors at that university.

On his way to Prague he travelled via Brussels to visit a relative, Sir Terence O'Brady, who was an eminent physician, who then resided in that city. This gentleman was in high esteem at the Court of Vienna, and was a favourite of the Empress Maria Theresa, whose son became King Joseph II of Germany in 1764; Joseph had been cured by the Irish doctor of a dangerous disease after the best of the medical court had failed.

Sir Terence received his relative Thomas with great kindness, but on seeing him, and admiring his athletic appearance with his fine figure of six feet high stature, he suggested that Thomas would be better suited for the army than for the Church. Thomas was of the same opinion, and he resolved to try his fortune in the ranks of the military.

Taking with him a reference from Sir Terence to the Emperor Joseph II, he arrived in Vienna around 1783. Thomas O'Brady was then about twenty-two and the Emperor, being struck with his martial air and manly form, permitted him to enter the Austrian army as a cadet. Thomas remained in this position for three to four years, where he assiduously studied the art of war and became extremely expert in military strategies and where he also became an ambitious aspirant for martial honours.

He was first engaged in active service in the year 1788 under the command of Marshal Loudon in the campaign against the Turks where he strenuously pursued his path to fame on the banks of the Danube. He distinguished himself with great gallantry at the capture of Belgrade in 1789 when the Austrians took that celebrated city from the Turks; in this conflict, young Thomas displayed the most dauntless bravery, being one of the leading attackers who entered the breach with sword in hand, hacking and hewing down the Turkish soldiers who finally fled in terror before the fatal blows of the young warrior; but he himself received some dangerous wounds in this desperate encounter that were to impact upon him in later life. Thomas O'Brady was considered one of the best swordsmen in the Austrian army, and after the battle of Belgrade he became an especial favourite of the Emperor, and was quickly promoted to the rank of Captain, and soon after as a Major and then to Colonel.

Thomas O'Brady served under three successive Emperors: Joseph II, Leopold II, and Francis II; and being advanced to the rank of a General and Field-Marshal, he commanded Austrian troops in various campaigns from 1790 to 1810, including the fierce wars of the French Revolution and battles against Bonaparte. He was held in the highest esteem by the three Emperors, and was given high rank, titles, and honours: Field-Marshal Baron O'Brady, Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa and Grand Cross of Hungary; Master-General of the Ordinance; Grand Chamberlain to Emperor Francis II, and was created an Aulie Councillor, a member of a provincial chancery of the Austrian war department. When he was awarded the title Baron O'Brady, the Emperor desired he should include in his heraldic arms (shown above) the motto "In periculo intrepidus", which translated to "in danger, fearless", a tribute expressive of the dauntless bravery he always displayed.

In the many battles in which Field Marshal O'Brady was engaged in the course of various campaigns, he had received so many wounds that in his old age the veteran warrior was covered with a multitude of scars, his head had been trepanned, his right arm was completely disabled, and his overall medical condition was such that he was obliged to retire from active service many years before his death. The Field Marshal married an accomplished Irishwoman, the widow of Thomas Dillon, Esq., of Belgard, county of Dublin, who was heir to the Viscount of Costello Gallen in Mayo and a member of the noble family of the Dillons. The maiden name of the Baroness O'Brady was Margaret O'Moore, daughter of O'Moore of Claghan Castle, King's County; an Irish family of high rank, who were in ancient times lords of Leix.

Baron Thomas O'Brady died at Vienna in October, 1827, in the 66th year of his life and during the reign of Emperor Francis II, King of Germany and Emperor of Austria; yet he left no descendants to inherit his rank and fame in the Austrian annals, but some of his relatives did enter the Austrian military service under his patronage. In his will, the General bequeathed all his possessions to the Military Academy at Neustadt, near Vienna, as a permanent foundation for two boys of the Brady clan, or in their deficiency for two boys of any other name, but must be Ireland born and approved by the Bishop of Dublin to be sent to the Military Academy in Vienna for education and training in the Austrian military service as officers.