In Loving Memory of
This site was created in memory of Briana Learnihan. Our loving Mom, Grandma and Friend. She will forever be missed.
A life of giving
Briana Learnihan, 74, of County Kerry, Ireland, passed away on November 4, 2022. Briana was born on October 13th, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan. She dedicated her life to being a wonderful mother, peace activist, and artist.
As the loving mother of Deanna and Brigid, her sons-in-law Travis and Emilian, and her pride and joy, grandson Jack, her family and friends in Ireland and the United States honor and remember her kind spirit, silly sense of humor, and generous soul fondly.
Briana was a passionate advocate of a free Ireland and a human rights advocate, lending her voice and energy to fighting injustice. From her first advocacy campaign protesting the Vietnam War and organizing a mail campaign to support troops by sending Kool-Aid packets to make their drinking water more bearable. Among many other efforts, she formed a worldwide letter-writing campaign to draw attention and support to Irish POWs and their families in British-occupied north of Ireland.
Briana volunteered her time assisting in battered women's shelters, homeless centers, and supporting the families of striking union workers. Briana passed on her altruism to her daughters, teaching them the importance of taking care of others and standing up to injustice.
Briana was a talented artist and loved arts and crafts. She loved to create, especially collage. Briana won several medals at the Michigan State Fair in the 1980s for quilting, canning, baking, needlework, and more. even winning the coveted title "Homemaker of the Year." She was a master of all trades! She recoiled at the mention of the award, as she was a staunch feminist who believed a woman's place is everywhere. Briana went on to hone her work as a collage artist. She had her own art studio in Alameda, California, with several gallery shows and exhibits. She made some of her best friendships through this art circle.
Briana worked at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, for several years. She obtained her degree while working there, a goal she was very proud of. Briana moved to Ireland and then California, where she lived for several years. She worked for Amtrak and absolutely loved the railroad. She retired shortly after her grandson was born in 2014. She made friends for life at Amtrak and cherished those relationships.
Briana spent the first part of her retirement being an amazing grandma. Her grandson, Jack, called her "Bun," and they were inseparable. Briana moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon, in 2018 along with her daughter Brigid's family. She enjoyed taking Jack to the park, the Children's Museum, and spending time just being silly together.
Briana suffered a heart attack and stroke in 2019. She had a difficult recovery but was showing enough progress to be able to leave assisted care. Her dream was always to enjoy her retirement in Ireland. In 2021, a break in the pandemic lockdown gave her the opportunity to make that dream come true. Briana's daughter, Deanna, and son-in-law, Travis, took on the full-time care of rehabilitating Briana at their home in County Kerry, Ireland. She spent her days helping Deanna in her vast garden, traveling around Ireland with the great assistance of Travis, keeping in touch with her grandson via Zoom (his first visit to Ireland in June of 2022). She made great friendships with seniors in the villages of Camp and Castlegregory during the weekly bus trips to the Gairdin Mhuire Day Care Centre and Camp Community Centre. Briana enjoyed a full year of life in Ireland before her sudden death on November 4, 2022.
Briana's family takes solace knowing she was surrounded by family, Ireland, and so much love.
She left us with so many wonderful memories and lessons on friendship, taking care of others, and fighting for what is right. Thank you, Mom.