Greg was flown home to Ireland for the funeral before returning to the ITV show, which he and his screen partner Amber Gill eventually won.
Now, a Limerick man is training to run the London Marathon in October in memory of Nate Monica to raise money for research into the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
“I was actually on Love Island when she died,” Greg, 27, recalls. “I felt like a bit idiot for not being there and the whole family was there. I just feel like I owe her something. I know she wouldn’t expect it.
“I just feel like I need to do something to try and help raise money for Alzheimer’s research, because of the upheaval my family has been through.
“I’d hate for another family to have to go through this, so if I could do a little more to raise money to help get Alzheimer’s early, it might help families go through less stress.”
Greg then recalls the moment he was told that his grandmother had died while filming in Mallorca.
“It was so upsetting, it kind of surprised me,” he told the Sunday World newspaper. “I knew she was a little sick before I went, but I didn’t think she had literally a few days left.
“She died when I was at the villa. My parents told ITV they didn’t need to tell me because I wasn’t going to give anything for the show and they were trying to organize the funeral arrangements and all that.”
But once the funeral was organized, ITV producers told Greg the news.
“I remember they picked me up from the villa and took me to the portacapin. It was actually the portacapin Caroline Flack,” he adds. “They told me. I wouldn’t be a man to cry. I’d be like a stereotypical Irish boy, so tough, he wouldn’t cry. But that kind of catch me.”
“Because I just felt like an idiot sitting in Mallorca with beautiful people on this really popular show and all my family had been with my grandmother for the past couple of days, I felt like an idiot.
“I think that’s why I need to do something, like put a little bit of effort here and try to help the families and their struggles.”
I was given the option to go home.
“So, the next day, I flew straight home to Ireland,” he explains. “I had two bodyguards with me. I wore a hat with my face covered. I went straight from the villa to the funeral, buried my grandmother and then went straight back on a plane.
“They gave me the option – ‘You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to.’ But my family was like ‘Sure what you’re going to do, you’re just going to sit in Ireland and watch the show with the rest of us.’
“It was kind of an old cliché, ‘Nana wants you to go and do your best, so just come back and have a little fun.’ I did and I ended up winning.”
Despite being told the shocking news while away from home, Greg says he felt even more comfortable when told how kind hospital staff had facilitated his grandmother’s death.
“A nice little story my family told me, my grandmother when she was dying in the nursing home, the nurses put Love Island in the background in her room and I was on the screen and I was talking,” he says.
“So I kind of like to think that in the last two hours before she passed away she heard me talking in the background, even if it was on TV.
“It’s kind of a good idea and it’s really cool that the nurses did it because they figured my grandmother was in the background was a good idea.”
Greg’s grandfather was originally from Hong Kong, and when he immigrated to Ireland in the 1960s he traveled to Limerick, where he opened one of the first Chinese restaurants in Limerick and also met Monica on the local social scene.
“I suppose at the time it wasn’t the most common thing, mixed couples,” he confirms. “Even traveling that far from Hong Kong to Ireland in the 1960s was unheard of. So I would say it’s kind of like ‘Do you see the Irish girl with the Chinese guy.'” She was known as Monica Ho around Limerick.
“Even my mum would have dealt with that with my dad. My dad is a Limerick boy, Irish born and raised. My mum looks totally Asian because of her dad. These things are all part of the past, that’s not a thing anymore, there are a lot of mixed race couples all over the world.” the scientist “.
Monica was in her seventies when she passed away.
He stresses that “his passing is still relatively young in this day and age.” She was a real independent lady. She was all about it. She loved to dress up. You would never have been surprised, she always looked so good.
“It’s just seeing them deteriorate before your eyes and start losing their minds.”
Greg notes that the longest distance he has traveled so far is 5 kilometres. Known as a runner and also a rugby player, this would be a new level for him.
“It’s a silly challenge. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it, but mentally I’ll just have to remember Nana’s order and keep walking and keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope we’ll make it to the end,” he mused.