Family and friends traveled from O’Hara’s native Ireland and from across the US, her adopted home, for the service, which began at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church near Washington, DC. It was led by Irish priest Fr. Gerald Weymes, who held a special connection with O’Hara, having also been a student of her Dublin drama teacher, Ena Mary Burke.
Actress Maureen O’Hara was laid to rest today with her husband, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles F. Blair Jr. pic.twitter.com/geLVXwB97Y— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) November 9, 2015
Fr. Weymes described "The Quiet Man" star as “very intelligent and multi-talented,” the Irish Times reports, adding, “Maureen was also witty, humorous, beautiful, compassionate, outgoing, strong-willed, courageous with the fiery spirit of the Vikings and the untameable spirit of the Normans with a little smidgen or pinch of eros — all the qualities that one would expect in any Irish colleen.”
In spite of her phenomenal success as the ‘Queen of technicolor,’ he said, “Maureen never lost her simplicity and was always cognizant of her origins.”
She was born Maureen Fitzsimons in 1920 in Ranelagh, Co. Dublin, one of six children of a soccer player father and a singer/actress mother. After joining the Abbey Players of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre as a teenager, she traveled to London, where she was discovered by Charles Laughton, who gave her the last name O’Hara.
The beloved star of "The Quiet Man," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "How Green Was My Valley" died on October 24 at the age of 95 at her family’s home in Idaho. She had expressed that her final wish was to be buried next to Blair, whom she first met on a flight to Ireland in 1947 and wed in 1968. Tragically, he died in a plane crash in 1978.
As O’Hara’s remains were carried into the church in a white coffin adorned with flowers, the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band from Chicago played music from "The Quiet Man." The Irish Times reported that O’Hara had enjoyed listening to the band 12 years ago at the birthplace and museum dedicated to her "Quiet Man" co-star John Wayne in Winterset, Iowa.
Pipers play Maureen O'Hara's coffin into Arlington church for her funeral this morning https://t.co/Q8XSLC6qTM— Simon Carswell (@SiCarswell) November 9, 2015
Wayne’s daughter, Melinda Munoz, was one of the 200 mourners gathered, and called O’Hara, whom she described as like an aunt, “a wonderful, wonderful woman, besides being a fabulous actress. She was real.”
Photos of O’Hara in her many famous film roles were on display in the church.
Wonderful send-off today for Ireland's first Hollywood star Maureen O'Hara - funeral & burial at Arlington, Virginia pic.twitter.com/2vo20GGcKK— Simon Carswell (@SiCarswell) November 9, 2015
Conor Fitzsimons, O’Hara’s grandson, with whom she lived in Idaho for the last few years of her life, spoke of O’Hara’s deep pride in her Irish heritage. “The one thing that I think my grandmother was proud of most was being Irish because that meant to her something that nobody could take from her. It was in her heart. It was in her soul. It was in her spirit. Ireland was her heart,” he said, adding that she taught him the lesson “when the times get tough, that’s when the Irish get going.”
He was one of the pallbearers for O’Hara’s funeral procession and was joined by O’Hara’s nephew Kevin Fitzsimons, her biographer Johnny Nicoletti, and three of her old friends from Glengarriff in County Cork, where she lived for a number of years.
At Arlington, where thousands of the United States’ heroes, including President John F. Kennedy, are buried, O’Hara’s coffin was carried to her grave by a US Air Force honor guard.
As those assembled bid their final farewell to the Irish Hollywood legend, singer Catherine O’Connell sang the main song from "The Quiet Man," “The Isle of Innisfree.”
May O’Hara rest in peace and may her legacy of strength, talent, wit, and beauty live on.
Farewell to Maureen O'Hara - The life story of the legendary l...
Maureen O'Hara, who for decades reigned as Ireland's leading lady, passed away one week ago today. This video is a tribute to Maureen, her incredible life, and her legacy, which is sure to endure. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1XFIUUZPosted by IrishCentral.com on Saturday, October 31, 2015