Saturday 3 December 2016

World bids farewell to legend of big screen Maureen O’Hara

John Wayne's family pay funeral tribute to iconic O'Hara (95)

Published 10/11/2015 | 02:30

An Air Force honour guard escorts the remains of screen legend Maureen O’Hara at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, USA, to be buried next to her husband, Air Force Brig Gen Charles Blair Jr. The actress, who famously starred in ‘The Quiet Man’, died at the age of 95. Photo: Getty
An Air Force honour guard escorts the remains of screen legend Maureen O’Hara at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, USA, to be buried next to her husband, Air Force Brig Gen Charles Blair Jr. The actress, who famously starred in ‘The Quiet Man’, died at the age of 95. Photo: Getty
An Air Force Honor Guard moves the remains of Maureen O’Hara into place to be buried next to her husband, Air Force Brig Gen Charles Blair, at the funeral attended by family at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Family members attend the graveside service for Maureen O'Hara
The Shannon Rovers, from Chicago, perform bagpipe music during the graveside service. Photo: Getty
Maureen O'Hara

John Wayne's family paid their respects at Maureen O'Hara's US funeral to honour one of Hollywood's most famous friendships.

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Wayne's daughter, Marisa, attended the Washington DC funeral of Maureen O'Hara (95) in tribute to the fact her father rated the Dublin-born star as not only one of his best friends but "the greatest actress of her era".

The duo starred together in numerous films, including 'The Quiet Man', which was directed by their mutual friend, Irish-American director John Ford.

Maureen, who died on October 24, yesterday fulfilled a vow she made 37 years ago to be buried beside the love of her life, US aviator Charles Blair.

Tragic

The US Air Force officer was also a test pilot for Grumman and worked on some of the most important US fighter planes of World War II.

Lt Col Blair was also exceptionally friendly with Wayne - and Maureen was left devastated by the tragic deaths of both men within 12 months of each other.

Her husband was killed in a Caribbean plane crash in 1978 while Wayne lost a battle against stomach cancer in 1979. The actress lived in Glengariff, in west Cork, up until 2012 when she moved back to the US.

A large number of Cork, Limerick and Dublin friends and neighbours travelled to Washington for her funeral, which featured a strong Irish-American theme.

Maureen's Requiem Mass was celebrated at 10am in Washington, before her burial at nearby Arlington Cemetery.

There was also a special graveside tribute from a Washington pipe band.

Her late husband, as a US Air Force officer and decorated veteran of World War II, was buried with full military honours in 1978.

In an interview with the Irish Independent to mark her 90th birthday, she described the aviator as "the love of my life".

In honour of her husband, the actress was a life-long supporter of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in Limerick.

Museum founder Margaret O'Shaughnessy was one of those who travelled from Ireland to Washington for the funeral.

"We had nearly 30 years of friendship. That is a long time so I wanted to travel for the funeral for Maureen and her family," she said.

Fate

"Charlie Blair, Maureen always told the story, flew the last scheduled seaplane out of Foynes in October 1945 and two days later, October 24, 1945, he flew the first Douglas DC-4 into Rineanna, now Shannon Airport," Margaret added.

In a twist of fate, Maureen died on the very same day, 70 years later. Maureen O'Hara made her last film alongside John Candy in 1991.

Over a glittering career, she appeared in 83 major films, including 'The Quiet Man', 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', 'Rio Grande', 'Miracle on 34th Street', 'How Green Was My Valley', 'McLintock!' and 'The Long Gray Line'.

Irish Independent

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