Mac Brádaigh, Philip (c.1650–c.1719), poet and clergyman, commonly known as ‘Philip Ministir’ or ‘Parson Brady’, was born in Co. Cavan about the middle of the seventeenth century, probably in the district to the west of Cootehill that had previously formed the Cúil Bhrighdín lordship of the MacBradys. Nothing is known of his immediate family, but the high status of the MacBradys in Gaelic society and the fact that he took catholic orders are both suggestive of a comfortable background. Mac Brádaigh may have been the ‘Philippus Brady’ who registered as a student in the Irish Franciscan college at Louvain in 1653, but the latter should probably be identified with a Franciscan priest of the same name who was expelled from Ireland in 1704; it is probable that the poet, like the great majority of the catholic clergy in Ulster at the time, trained for the priesthood in Ireland.
According to local tradition, Mac Brádaigh served as a catholic priest, in either Annagelliff or the contiguous parish of Lavey, but he had conformed to the established church by 1682, the year in which he married Mary Broderick of Cavan. In 1691 he was installed as vicar of Kildallan parish, near Killeshandra, Co. Cavan, where he remained till 1704, when he moved to the parish of Inishmagrath (Drumkeeran), Co. Leitrim, having exchanged cures with another minister. In 1711 John Richardson (qv), rector of Belturbet, published a volume of Irish-language sermons entitled Seanmora ar na Priomh Phoncibh na Chreideamh, to which Mac Brádaigh contributed an excessively literal translation of a sermon preached by John Tillotson, archbishop of Canterbury, before King William (qv) in 1689.
Mac Brádaigh escaped the popular odium that normally attached to members of the catholic clergy who conformed to the established church. Instead, his image in the folklore is that of a likeable rogue whose humour and wit compensated for his other failings – an image that rests largely on the comic nature of his verse. The fact that the majority of the works attributed to Mac Brádaigh are found only in nineteenth-century manuscripts makes it difficult to determine the extent of his oeuvre, but the compositions that can be assigned to him with some confidence include a verse in praise of brandy (‘Fuair mise dram den mbrandaí láidir’), a ribald lament for the unfortunately named Parson Pryx (‘Ar an chúigiú lá fichead den mhí Fheabhra’), a still bawdier verse about the sexual desires of three sisters (‘Triúr ban séimh nach bhféadadh an ainmhian do chosc’), and a complaint addressed to a flea that had kept him awake throughout the night (‘A dhearnaid chrotach ghobach chaoldubh ghéar’). In more serious vein, Mac Brádaigh is the probable author of a welcome addressed to the composer and harpist Turlough Carolan (qv) (‘Imchian fáilte dhuit ‘mo dháil’). He is also among those who have been suggested as possible authors of the mock-heroic prose tale ‘Mac na Míchomhairle’ – an attribution that is plausible but speculative. Mac Brádaigh's tenure of the parish of Innismagrath ended in 1719 and was probably terminated by his death.