Irish acting legend Maureen O’Hara was among those remembered at last night’s Oscars for their contribution to the world of film in a touching tribute to those we have lost this year.
Born in Ranelagh in Dublin city on August 17, 1920, Maureen O’Hara and her five siblings showed their talent from a very young age. Training at the famed Abbey Theatre from her teens, Maureen’s dream was initially to be an opera singer.
Despite being made to go to business college by her ever-practical father, Maureen was discovered at just 17 years of age by famed English actor Charles Laughton and earned her one-way ticket to Hollywood in the 1939 film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
She is probably best known, however, for playing the iconic Mary Kate in “The Quiet Man”, the character that truly brought her into Irish acting royalty and just one of the five films in which she starred opposite Western legend John Wayne.
The Dublin-born star had to work hard to prove her worth as an actress was just as great as her beauty, and she was finally honored with a golden statue in 2014 at 94 years old, presented to her in her wheelchair by another Irish great, Liam Neeson. Never forgetting her roots, O’Hara sang “Danny Boy” to soften the crowd, honoring her beloved country on an international stage one last time.
Ireland’s leading lady passed away on October 24, 2015, at her home in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 95. She is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, next to her much beloved husband, US Navy pilot General Charles Blair who died in a plane crash in 1978.
We are sure that if the fiery redhead, once heralded as the Queen of Technicolor, was still with us, however, she would have been extremely proud of the large number of Irish nominations at last night's Oscars, and especially with the success of “Stutterer” winning Best Live Action Short.
Twenty-one year old, New York-born, Irish-raised, Saoirse Ronan was unfortunately pipped to the post by Room’s Brie Larson but a win for an actress in a movie by Irish director Lenny Abrahamson and based on a book by Irish author Emma Donoghue would not leave much room for O’Hara to be disappointed.
Although Donoghue herself lost out for Best Adapted Screenplay, Larson paid tribute to both her and the “absolutely incredible” Abrahamson in her acceptance.
Kerry’s Michael Fassbender also missed out on a statue with Leonardo DiCaprio finally taking home the award for Best Actor for the movie “The Revenant” on his sixth nomination.
“Brooklyn” was faced with many disappointments with Ronan’s loss and Nick Hornby missing out on Best Adapted Screenplay but the biggest Irish win came with “Stutterer” with director Ben Cleary proclaiming: “Every day is a proud day to be Irish, but today even more so...Sláinte!"
“Spotlight” took home the gold for Best Picture, beating out both “Brooklyn” and “Room,” but we’re sure that Maureen was smiling down on proceedings, thankful for all the great Irish talent taking up the reins of her legacy.