Brian O’Donovan, host of WGBH’s ‘A Celtic Sojourn,’ dies at 66

Local News

He passed away at home Friday after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement from the radio station.

WGBH Radio on-air host Brian O’Donovan at the WGBH Studios in Boston. Each week on 89.7 Boston Public Radio, host Brian O’Donovan explores traditional and contemporary music from around the Celtic world, connecting emerging artists to their deep musical roots.

Boston is mourning the loss of Brian O’Donovan, host of the WGBH radio show, “A Celtic Sojourn.” 

O’Donovan was 66. He died at home Friday after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement from the station.

O’Donovan was also the host of the “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” a holiday theatrical tradition for many New Englanders, as well as other live events.

“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,”  said GBH President and CEO Susan Goldberg in a statement. 

His live events contained not only music but also tales from his childhood in Ireland. Over the last 20 years, his Christmas show encapsulated the seemingly ordinary traditions that make the holidays sing for any family.

“Christmas was just full of always, an important time for the always things in life, the things that you expect to happen every year,” O’Donovan said, according to WGBH.

O’Donovan was the second youngest in a family of nine children, according to GBH News.

According to The Boston Globe, He was born in 1957 and grew up in Clonakilty in West Cork. In 1980, he came to Boston for a three-week vacation and ended up staying in the city that came to celebrate him. He met his future wife, singer Lindsay Henes, at The Village Coach House in this city. They were married for 42 years. 

Not long after O’Donovan was diagnosed with the rare form of brain cancer that would eventually take his life, he went on to GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” show which is hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. When asked if he was angry about the diagnosis, O’Donovan replied with clarity. 

“My kind of attitude generally has been to take every piece of life and every experience as the gold nugget that it is. When you get a diagnosis like this, you need to really think about making the most of whatever time you have left,” he said, according to WGBH.