Limerick friends bid fond farewell to screen legend Maureen

Colm Ward

Reporter:

Colm Ward

Sally Ryan, left, and Margaret O'Shaughnessy, second from right, with members of Maureen O'Hara's family including Conor Beau Fitzsimons, Maureen's grandson, Conor's wife Elga and two children, Baylee and Everest and other friends from Glengariff
Limerick was well represented at the funeral of silver screen legend Maureen O’Hara, who was buried in Washington DC’s Arlington cemetery on Monday.

Limerick was well represented at the funeral of silver screen legend Maureen O’Hara, who was buried in Washington DC’s Arlington cemetery on Monday.

Among those in attendance was her friend of more than 30 years, Margaret O’Shaughnessy, director of the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.

“It was a very Irish funeral – very personal and very much for the family, just like you’d have a home,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said.

Maureen O’Hara had a long connection with Foynes. Having officially opened the museum in 1989, she remained a supporter and patron of the museum for the rest of her life and was a regular visitor to the town.

“She has been coming to Foynes to celebrate her birthday on August 17 for many years. We had a big 80th birthday bash for her in Foynes and the Dunraven in Adare,” said Ms O’Shaughnessy.

She described Ms O’Hara as “feisty, but also humble and very approachable”.

“She would stay signing autographs for hours - she was very accessible, very ordinary.

“When she came to Foynes, she wouldn’t want to stay in a big fancy hotel – she was happy to stay in a local house or with me.”

The connection with the West Limerick town was established through Maureen’s husband, the aviator Charles Blair, who regularly flew seaplanes into Foynes during its heyday as a flying boat terminal from 1939 to 1945.

Brigadier General Blair died in a plane crash in 1978 and was buried with full military honours at Washington’s Arlington cemetery, where this week Maureen O’Hara was laid to rest alongside him.

Ms O’Shaughnessy travelled to Washington for the funeral, where she joined hundreds of people from all over the world in bidding farewell to the star of 83 major films, among them The Quiet Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Rio Grande and Miracle on 34th Street.

Also in attendance was Limerick woman Sally Ryan, originally from the North Circular Road, who was one of Maureen’s closest friends in Ireland.