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Maureen admitted to being a theatre snob who had no interest in movies!

December 2nd, 2022 5:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

Maureen, in her 2004 speech, which is included in the new book, remembers winning every feis in Ireland, after starting out in the world of performance, at the age of six.

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A speech given by Hollywood filmstar and long-time resident of Glengarriff, the late Maureen O’Hara, features in a new book marking great speeches by Irish women. This is the speech she gave at the Irish Film & Television awards at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin in November 2004

TO  have been born in Ireland is the greatest gift God can give you. 

Yes, it is. And to be proud of that is the greatest gift you can return to God and give to the country of our birth. I know many of you think I boast of Ireland too much. I don’t think so, and that’s what’s really important to me. 

I started in the theatrical business when I was six years of age. And I entered all the feises in Ireland. I won the Rathmines Feis. . . . I won every feis in Ireland.

And I was always very proud of it. I was a theatre snob and I never intended to have anything to do with movies. But Charles Laughton saw me working and signed me to a seven-year contract and took me to America. I made my first film in London called Jamaica Inn, and he took me to America to make The Hunchback of Notre Dame with him. 

And then war broke out, and none of us who went out – people like David Niven and everything – went out to America, we were not permitted back under the law of war. And so I stayed in the United States of America and was very lucky to have met all the wonderful directors I did, including an old devil called John Ford. 

And the first picture I made with that great, distinguished director was the film in Wales, How Green Was My Valley. And I was very thrilled and really blessed to have been given all of the support and everything that I did get. And I was very proud to have made one of the first great films made in Ireland that did so much for Ireland. 

But there was one, many years ago, and I don’t know if any of you are as old as I am and consequently old enough to remember the wonderful film that was made called The Araner. 

Nobody remembers it? It was a great Irish film when I was a little girl. I don’t know if all of you know how old I am. I do – unfortunately. I had a sister who said, ‘Old age is a terrible thing, particularly when it strikes you when you are so young.’ I am 84 years of age. And if any of you young gentlemen would like to come up here and have a little battle, I know who’d win . . . me! 

But, anyway, I guess enough is enough, and really all of you who are in the theatrical profession, the television profession or the movie profession keep really working. Never forget you represent to the whole world this small, great, fabulous country. 

I’d like to say hello to my daughter, who is with me tonight, Bronwyn, who was named for the part played by Anna Lee in How Green Was My Valley. ... 

Thank you for the award tonight. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. It’s just a wonderful gift from Ireland to an Irish woman, and she appreciates it.’ 

Published by UCD Press, Irish Women’s Speeches (Vol. II): A Rich Chorus of Voices is available now (€25)

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