Lifetime Achievement Recognition 2004

Maureen O'Hara

All of you in the theatrical profession, television or movies, never forget you represent to the whole world this small, great, fabulous country. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this Award, it’s just a wonderful gift from Ireland to an Irish woman.

Maureen O’Hara, Recipient of the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004

In 2004, the then-newly established Irish Film & Television Academy honoured Maureen O'Hara with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Dublin, led by video tributes from some of Maureen's many admirers and collaborators throughout the years including director Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus and actors Milo O'Shea & Hayley Mills. Having represented her homeland impeccably and with absolute loyalty and pride, it was a fitting tribute to this 'Queen of Technicolour' that the Irish Film & Television Academy presented the 2004 'Lifetime Achievement Award' to Maureen, a true Irish living legend.

Almost a decade to the day since her 2004 recognition in her beloved home country, Maureen O'Hara is given the recognition she so richly deserves from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in presenting her with an Honorary Oscar Award at the Annual Governors Ball in Hollywood on November 8th 2014. The honour of receiving this revered golden statuette is symbolic and the culmination of a life's work on screen and a perfectly fitting way to celebrate this extraordinary Irish woman.

Video of Maureen O'Hara receiving the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award

"Maureen O’Hara changed my life as a film director. She was one of the most professional, responsible actors I’ve ever met. She gave our film a realistic, touching and honest performance. She enriched my creative hunger with her knowledge of film history, relating stories about my heroes, people like John Ford, Charles Laughton and John Wayne. I will spend my life cherishing the memories of the time we spent together on the ‘Only The Lonely’ film set. Thanks to my friendship with Maureen O’Hara, my world is a much richer place"

Chris Columbus Director

Joining the Abbey Theatre in 1934, one of the most renowned dramatic theatres in Europe

"It truly is a privilege & an honour to be invited tonight to present this award because the recipient is someone who is beloved by everyone in this room and by countless fans across the world"

Gay Byrne

I remember working with you Mauren so well on The Parent Trap, you were so sweet always and immensely warm. I just thought you were the most beautiful vibrant person I’d ever seen and I believed in you utterly. You brought to that film all your glorious sense of fun and joie de vivre. Congratulations on this award Maureen, you richly deserve it.”

Hayley Mills

Tough and strong, Maureen O'Hara has enjoyed a magnificent career through the golden age of Hollywood, spanning sixty-five years, over 60 films and defining Irishness for a generation of cinemagoers. As one of the silver screen's leading ladies alongside Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe, this incredible woman has undoubtedly enjoyed a level of success that no Irish actor or actress has matched.

Maureen was one of six children born in a South Dublin house and committed to her goal of becoming an actress. She made many sacrifices in her teenage years, pursuing rigorous acting lessons & joining the Abbey Theatre in 1934, one of the most renowned dramatic theatres in Europe. Maureen was cast as a lead in the Abbey’s new play but she never got to play the role as a chance meeting in Dublin led to a screen test in London where she was introduced to Charles Laughton, one of the greatest working actors of all time. Laughton lined her up for a key role in the big-budget picture, Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in which Charles also starred. Maureen immediately set sail for America to star alongside Laughton’s Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Maureen’s utterly flawless delivery of her role as Esmarelda earned her huge respect and the film became a major box-office success.

Maureen was soon signed up by MCA, the largest talent agency in Hollywood. It was her subsequent casting opposite Walter Pidgeon in How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford, that began an artistic collaboration with Ford that would span twenty years of her life. The film was the biggest budgeted picture in 20th Century Fox’s history but under the directorial chaperon of Ford, its success was meteoric as it won five Academy Awards. In the years that followed, Maureen’s career success was unrelenting with leading roles opposite Hollywood’s major leading men such as Tyrone Power, Anthony Quinn, Henry Fonda, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. and Errol Flynn.

At this time in Hollywood, Maureen was longing for her homeland in Ireland so it was not a moment too soon when John Ford’s Irish epic The Quiet Man (an Irish project dear to her heart which she and Ford had worked on for years) was given the green light. Maureen gave the performance of her lifetime as Mary Kate Danaher opposite John Wayne as Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man. The film was critically acclaimed & is loved throughout the world, evoking a romantic longing for Ireland like no other, reaching out to the hearts of millions with its images of Ireland’s glorious countryside. Maureen’s favourite feature, the film bonded her, John Ford and John Wayne as artists and friends in a way that happens but once in a career. In all she did five pictures with John Wayne, the man she claims made a “profound difference” in her life.

Maureen O’Hara has given cinema lovers a legacy of wonderful female characters over her incredible lifetime

Maureen starred in many more popular films throughout the 1960’s including The Parent Trap and opposite Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. However after the filming of The Red Pony in 1973, Maureen took time to tend to her personal life and loved ones and retired from making pictures for twenty years.

At the beginning of the 90’s, acclaimed film director Chris Columbus convinced Maureen to come back to the screen after he wrote Only The Lonely with her in mind. Starring alongside John Candy, the film had blockbuster success in 1991 and it renewed her interest in acting. Maureen’s last screen appearance was the 2000 television film The Last Dance.

Maureen O’Hara has given cinema lovers a legacy of wonderful female characters over her incredible lifetime, and through it all she has always stood up for the principles that meant most to her, facing her obstacles with bravery and honesty in a career that spanned over six decades. She has represented her homeland with absolute loyalty and pride and it was a fitting tribute to this ‘Queen of Technicolour’ that the Irish Film & Television Academy presented the 2004 ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to Maureen O’Hara, a true Irish living legend.


Key Credits

Jamaica Inn – 1939
The Hunchback of Notre Dame -1939
How Green Was My Valley – 1941)
The Black Swan – 1942
Miracle on 34th Street – 1947
Rio Grande – 1950
The Quiet Man – 1952
Against All Flags – 1952
The Parent Trap – 1961
Spencer’s Mountain – 1963
McClintock! – 1963
Big Jake – 1971
The Red Pony - 1973
Only the Lonely – 1991

Image Gallery

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