E.H. Deery, a Hibernian Catholic, stands outside the door of his butcher shop at Northwest 18th and Burnside, just steps from St. Mary Cathedral. Archbishop Edward Howard was a regular customer. (Courtesy Jean Eilers)
E.H. Deery, a Hibernian Catholic, stands outside the door of his butcher shop at Northwest 18th and Burnside, just steps from St. Mary Cathedral. Archbishop Edward Howard was a regular customer. (Courtesy Jean Eilers)
In March, the Sentinel wrote about Portland’s Ancient Order of Hibernians (“An ancient order: Portland’s great Irish past,” March 15, page 12). Included was a journalistic ditty about Edward Hugh Deery, a Hibernian pioneer who guided the organization in its heyday. We concluded the piece by saying we were puzzled that we could not find records of the great man’s death.

Then we heard from Jean Eilers, a member of St. Andrew Parish and Deery’s granddaughter. Eilers, whose mother was Deery’s daughter, has a copy of the very brief obituary in the Oregonian newspaper showing that her grandfather died on Easter Sunday, 1967. He was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery next to his wife Frances who had died in 1959. The two had been members of The Madeleine Parish and were regulars at the 6 a.m. Sunday Mass.

It appears the Sentinel was never notified of Deery’s death. Eilers says her Aunt Mary, who was in charge of funeral arrangements and obituaries, was a woman of few words.

Eilers also says her grandfather rarely spoke of the Hibernian glory days, which took place in the early part of the 20th century. She said that, like many of his Irish-born peers at mid-century, Deery became more interested in assimilation into U.S. society than in putting Irish identity out front. But by the 1990s, a new generation revived the Hibernians in Portland and named the branch after Deery.

Eilers remembers her grandfather’s meat marked at West 18th and Burnside, just a block from St. Mary Cathedral. Archbishop Edward Howard was a regular customer. Deery put on a black suit and dress hat every day to go to the shop, but then switched out to an apron and greasy black butcher’s cap. He had become a butcher’s apprentice in Portland in the 1890s and stuck with the job. Even in his 80s, Deery could hoist a side of beef as well as his young assistants.

Eilers recalls that her grandfather would write small playful poems and hand them to customers along with their steaks or racks of lamb.

Deery also liked vegetables. He owned a large garden off Cornell Road and would take the children and grandchildren for outings. She also recalls frequent trips to the coast, where her grandfather would collect strands of seaweed to fertilize his rose garden.