BY BRIAN MOORE
WHILE the sale of the contents of Maureen O’Hara’s estate failed to exceed her grandson’s expectations, Conor FitzSimons told The Southern Star that ‘it was better than a poke in the eye with a stick.’
The final tally came in at almost €500,000 when the hammer dropped for the last time at the auction in New York this week.
Bonhams auction house reported over 95% of the items sold by lot and many of the pieces sold for ten times their estimate.
With over 240 lots, including items from the movie legend’s five decades in Hollywood, as well as some select pieces from her glamorous wardrobe, and exquisite furniture and paintings from her home in Glenngarrif, the auction drew a lot of interest.
Speaking to The Southern Star before the auction, Maureen’s grandson Conor FitzSimon said: ‘I have kept many, many items that hold special memories for me from my childhood. This is an incredible collection of mementoes from the glamorous world of a beautiful woman and a true Hollywood legend. I want to share these memories with the fans around the world, and especially in Ireland.’
One lot that proved very popular was a set of never-before-seen love letters from director John Ford which he wrote to Maureen before and after their time making The Quiet Man.
When the hammer finally fell, an unnamed buyer paid just over €70,000 for the letters.
Other lots that drew big interest were Maureen’s personal Quiet Man script (€46,000), a tweed jacket she wore in The Quiet Man (€15,000) and a pair of Meissen vases from her home in Glengarriff (€29,548). A set of two mugs presented by John Wayne to Maureen to commemorate the movies they co-starred in, priced at €1,300, went on to sell for €14,700.
Some of the most popular pieces for auction proved to be the many cocktail dresses, ball gowns, handbags and shoes which all more than exceeded pre-auction estimates. One of the more unusual items up for sale was Maureen’s Papal Blessing which sold for €1,500.
Margaret O’Shaughnessy from the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in Limerick attended the auction and was delighted with her purchase. ‘I purchased a dress from [the movie] Spencer’s Mountain,’ Margaret said.
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum recently took delivery of a number of special pieces from the Maureen O’Hara collection, thanks to a donation from Maureen’s grandson. ‘it was great to be here for the auction with Maureen’s grandson and his wife Elga,’ Margaret said.