Above: Fr Moynihan PP Glengarriff with Bronwyn, Maureen O’Hara’s daughter.
Maureen O’Hara who passed away recently at her home in the USA was remembered in a Memorial Service in her adopted home Glengarriff on October 31 last. The service, to mark the passing and to celebrate her long life and career, was organised by a group of local people who knew Maureen in her years in Glengarriff and considered her as a valued friend and good neighbour. Maureen’s daughter Bronwyn, who continues to live in Glengarriff, was in attendance together with a large congregation of locals and others who had travelled for the ceremony. Fr. Michael Moynihan PP celebrated Mass and in his homily paid tribute to Maureen, her legendary courage and especially her deep and unshakeable faith.
Breda Galvin who is a long-time member of Glengarriff Golf Club, and indeed was Lady Captain back in 1984 at the time of the inaugural Maureen O Hara Classic, was well-qualified to speak about Maureen before Mass begun. She spoke of her love for the area from the time she first came to live at Lugdine in 1968, together with her late husband Charles Blair, her deep interest in Glengarriff Golf Club and the wider West Cork and her pride in letting everyone know that she was 100 per cent Irish. The golf classic, which she founded, will continue to be the most important fixture on the clubs calendar in the years to come and Breda concluded with the very appropriate Irish Blessing.
A number of other locals, all of who had a connection with Maureen, participated in the Mass at Readings, Prayers Of The Faithful, Offertory and Communion. A personal letter from Maureen’s grandson Conor Beau FitzSimons was read and in it he thanked the people of Glengarriff for their friendship and support through the years.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Andrew O’Shea spoke further of Maureen, her childhood in Dublin, her long and successful film career when she appeared on screen with a list of virtually all of the leading men of the day, her theatre and TV appearances and her singing career. He also spoke of her years with Charles Blair and her retirement in Glengarriff when she found herself more in demand than ever. He reiterated the importance of Maureen O’Hara in almost a century of Irish life and placed her firmly in the company of our great figures in literature, music and the arts.
The occasion was greatly enhanced by accomplished West Cork Tenor Dan Twomey and accompanist Annabel Adams who performed a beautiful selection of traditional sacred music for the Mass, including Panis Angelicus and Ave Maria together with all of the Incantations. Before and after Mass they also performed a fine selection of well-known Irish songs, all of which were associated with Maureen in her youth and in her career.
At the conclusion, all of those present got the opportunity to meet with Bronwyn and express their sympathy on what must be remembered is a time of great personal loss to her and the wider FitzSimons family. The universal consensus was that Maureen herself would have approved of the proceeding, especially the music, and the ceremony concluded with the congregation joining in a great rendering of The Isle Of Innisfree, the theme from Maureen’s best known film, The Quiet Man.
Maureen O’Hara was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC alongside Charles Blair but her wonderful legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all who loved and appreciated her.