Brian O'Donovan, the long-time host of WGBH's popular traditional music program "A Celtic Sojourn" and a leading ambassador of Irish culture in the US, has died at the age of 66 following a long battle with cancer.
O'Donovan died at his home following a long battle with brain cancer, GBH confirmed on Saturday
GBH President and CEO Susan Goldberg paid tribute to O'Donovan in a statement on Saturday afternoon.
"His passion for music and his sheer joy in sharing it was abundantly clear to GBH listeners, whether of his weekly show or of his spirited live events. In more than 35 years with our organization, Brian never met a stranger. His warmth to his colleagues, and his deep commitment to the mission of GBH, will be greatly missed," Goldberg said.
O'Donovan's program "A Celtic Sojourn", which ran for over 20 years, explored "traditional and contemporary music from around the Celtic world, connecting emerging artists to their deep musical roots".
His annual "A Christmas Celtic Sojourn" featured a mix of live music, dancing, and storytelling, with O'Donovan transporting the audiences to his childhood Christmases in Ireland.
O'Donovan frequently recounted the annual rituals that his family performed, even if they were "fairly mundane things" such as who got to light the Christmas candles on Christmas Eve.
"Christmas was just full of always, an important time for the always things in life, the things that you expect to happen every year," he said on one of his annual shows.
A native of Clonakilty in West Cork, O'Donovan traveled to Boston in 1980 for what was intended to be a three-week holiday but instead found his new home.
He met singer Lindsay Henes at a live music session at an Irish pub shortly after arriving in Boston, with the couple celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary in August.
Shortly after moving to Boston, O'Donovan was hired as a consultant at an Irish music festival at Sullivan Stadium - now Gillette Stadium.
He later earned a full-time job running events for the Sullivan family, who owned the New England Patriots at the time and became general manager of the stadium in 1987.
Robert Kraft acquired the stadium in 1989, making O'Donovan Vice President of venue.
In that role, O'Donovan helped create Major League Soccer and was instrumental in the United States' 1994 World Cup bid.
O'Donovan later took on the role of general manager and chief operating officer with the New England Revolution following the launch of the MLS.
New England Revolution owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft said in a statement that they were "deeply saddened to lose a dear friend in Brian O'Donovan".
"Brian was universally respected by all who knew him and had a warmth, intelligence, and joy for life that left an indelible mark on those around him.
"While we all will remember Brian fondly for his decades on the Boston airwaves bringing 'A Celtic Sojourn' into our homes and radios, we know that without his vision, soccer would not be where it is today in New England.
"Brian’s legacy is woven into the fabric of Boston and the city’s distinct Irish-American culture, and his influence will be felt for years to come, especially by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him."