Maureen O’Hara statue is almost complete in Co Cork village

Maureen O’Hara statue is almost complete in Co Cork village
Maureen O’Hara speaks at the unveiling of the Maureen O’Hara Legacy Centre plaque in Glengarriff, Co Cork, in 2010. Picture: Dan Linehan

Plans are advanced in Glengarriff to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late, legendary Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara.

The village in west Cork became her adopted home, and she moved there permanently in 2005.

A €60,000 life-size bronze statue of the iconic, Dublin-born actress is nearing completion.

Sculptor Don Coleman has completed the head and is expected to have finished the body by the end of next month.

It will be put on a plinth in a new amenity area that has been specially constructed for the commemoration.

The project is being jointly funded by O’Hara’s grandson, Conor Fitzsimons, Glengarriff Tourism Association, and Cork County Council.

Glengarriff Tourism Association member Donal Deasy, who owns Casey’s Hotel in the village, knew the silver-screen idol for many years.

“She first bought a house here in 1968 and would come to stay there every summer, for three to four months,” Donal said.

She mixed extremely well with everybody. Most Fridays, she would come to the hotel for dinner with her family or friends.

The star, along with her third husband, Charles F. Blair, would arrive by seaplane.

“It used to be spectacular to see it land and pull right up to where their house was,” Donal said.

The couple owned a flying business in the American Virgin Islands, but sold it to spend more time in Glengariff.

“Conor Fitzsimons has seen the statue’s head and was extremely pleased with it,” Donal said.

He has a number of photographs of Maureen in the hotel.

Maureen O’Hara with John Wayne in a publicity still for the 1952 film ‘The Quiet Man’. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty
Maureen O’Hara with John Wayne in a publicity still for the 1952 film ‘The Quiet Man’. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty

“I have one of her with the late Brendan Grace,” he said. “He always used to make sure he had a show somewhere nearby to coincide with her birthday.

“He’d invite her along and then sing happy birthday to her. He was mad about her.”

The statue will be unveiled on August 17 next year to mark Maureen O’Hara’s 100th birthday. She died, aged 95, on October 24, 2015, in Idaho.

“I have no doubt the erection of the sculpture will be good for tourism,” Donal said.

British actor Charles Laughton was the first big Hollywood name to spot the actress’s potential and arranged for her to co-star with him in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, in 1939.

Her first collaboration with director John Ford came with How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Ford directed her in several more famous films, including The Quiet Man, with co-star John Wayne.

Ford famously punched her on set and for years O’Hara wondered why he hated her.

A letter recently discovered by Conor Fitzsimons, written by Ford on Ashford Castle-headed notepaper, showed Ford’s undoubted affection for the star, whom he directed over 20 years.

The letter reads:

Oh, Maureen, my darling, I love you so much! Thank you, my love, for the few months happiness you have given me. I miss you so much. God, I long for you. Your face is constantly in my dreams.

Although the letter is not dated, it’s believed it was written around the time The Quiet Man was being filmed.

It will be put up for auction by Bonham’s in November. It is expected to fetch a significant sum.

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