“It was a wonderful experience and having seen how the film was made, by just being there, was very interesting. It certainly made me empathetic to actors because it is a very dreary process.”
Cast as an Irish street singer, she spent four weeks on set in Rome, rubbing shoulders with Cameron Diaz, Leonardo di Caprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson along the way. And when it came to opening night in her adopted home town of Nashville, she did it in style. “I wasn’t invited to the other premieres. A friend of mine brought a red bath mat so I could have a red carpet.”
Aged 56 and married to Mac Bennett, they have a son, Jesse who has cerebral palsy. “It’s a spectrum — he uses a cane in the house and a chair when he is out and about,” says Maura, adding he is a national US history Bee champion. “He’s finished high school and has taken a year out to get more physically strong and then will go to college next year... He is a very smart boy, too smart for his mammy sometimes let me tell you.”
* Maura O’Connell and Karan Casey will be joined by accordionist Martin Tourish and guitarist Ed Boyd at the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork on Thursday January 22 at 8pm. www.musicnetwork.ie
I’ve been in better shape and I’ve been in worse shape. There is a walk I do around a lake and, depending on the walk I do, it’ll take between 40 minutes and an hour. If it’s bad weather I have a walking machine in the house. I go through phases of being very fit and not so fit.
I’ve a bit of arthritis and a little bit of blood pressure, which is hereditary but it’s not in the danger zone or anything like that. I’m keeping an eye on it.
I like vegetables. I don’t eat a lot of meat but I wouldn’t necessarily have any healthy eating habits other than trying not to over-do the sweets. At various times I’ve tried out different diets and I’ve never settled on any one of them. As my mother used to say, ‘just sit back from the table’.
Having a housekeeper come in once a week to make sure the corners are not messed. I’m a great cook but a terrible housekeeper.
Sometimes I worry about Jesse’s future. I don’t want to make an issue of that because he is an intelligent man and will fare well in the world. It’s mostly social stuff and people’s perception.
I like to have friends around for dinner. I find that very relaxing and I find it my most pleasurable thing to do.
I would be curious to talk to my grandmothers about their experiences in the wars because I was young when they died. Both were widowed early and had children. My father’s mother was a captain in Cumann na mBan and my other grandmother hid guns in the house and changed horses for someone on the run.
The sea on the west coast of Ireland — when you get the smell of seaweed. I don’t feel I’m home until I get that smell.
What would you change about your appearance? When I was younger, I would have been more obsessed with my appearance but as I’ve gotten older there is not much that I would change. The wrinkles all bring something and are all part of life. That’s not to say that I think I look fantastic or anything like that.
A friend died recently and I cried a lot. And a friend’s son died recently and I cried for days — there is nothing sadder than to witness a family who have lost a dearly beloved son or daughter. I cry at movies and a song will make me cry.
A lack of empathy.
A need for perfection.
Not traditional prayers — I have wishes.
A beautiful piece of music. Hearing a good musician. Reading a poem that brings me to other parts of life.