Monday 23 October 2017

Tributes for Quiet Lady Maureen, as she dies at 95

Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Legendary Irish actress Maureen O'Hara died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Idaho at the age of 95 to the soundtrack of her favourite film, The Quiet Man, and surrounded by her family.

Famed for her on and off-screen feistiness, O'Hara had a peaceful and loving passing at her home in Boise, Idaho.

Her manager, Johnny Nicoletti, told the Sunday Independent last night: "It was a very peaceful passing and they (her family) were celebrating her life."

He said her funeral arrangements were being finalised by her family. He said he expected that O'Hara would be laid to rest beside her late husband, General Charles Blair, at Arlington Cemetery in Washington.

The flame-haired beauty who tamed John Wayne in The Quiet Man was a huge star in Hollywood throughout the 40s and 50s, famed as much for her beauty as her personality.

She grew up as Maureen Fitzsimons in Ranelagh, south Dublin, the daughter of business people and arts lovers. She and her siblings studied at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, where she was discovered by the English actor, Charles Laughton, at the age of 17. She landed her first major role as an actress in Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn in 1939.

She went on to captivate Hollywood, where she starred in about 50 movies, including Miracle on 34th Street.

She often appeared alongside Wayne.

In one of her final interviews, she said how she avoided romantic entanglements with her leading men. She and Wayne were "dear friends", she said.

O'Hara spent many years in Lugdine Park, her summer home in Glengariff, Co Cork, with her husband, Charles, a famous airman and businessman.

After her husband's death in 1978, she took over the running of his business but increasingly spent more time in Glengariff. She continued there until 2012, when a disagreement over her legacy marred her final years there.

She moved to Boise, Idaho, where her grandson, Conor Fitzsimons lives, to be close to her family. Ms O'Hara's family paid tribute to her in a statement last night.

"As an actress, Maureen O'Hara brought unyielding strength and sudden sensitivity to every role she played. Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life. She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world."

In Ireland, tributes to O'Hara were led by the President, Michael D Higgins, who is currently on an official visit to the US.

"I have learned with great sadness of the death of the actress Maureen O'Hara. She will be remembered as an outstanding and versatile actress, whose work especially in film, will endure for many years to come," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny tweeted: "From the Abbey stage to the big screen, Maureen O'Hara was one of our best - she loved this country and never forgot where she came from. RIP."

The Arts Minister, Heather Humphreys, said last night that O'Hara will "be best remembered for her fiercely passionate roles" in classic films.

O'Hara's fellow veteran Hollywood star Angela Lansbury tweeted a quote from the star herself: "Above all else, deep in my soul, I'm a tough Irishwoman."

Riverdance star Michael Flatley said on Twitter: "May you rest in peace, my dear friend. You will always be Ireland's greatest movie star."

Sunday Independent

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