NUI Galway Host Public Interview with Singer and Harpist Mary O’Hara

Mar 24 2014 Posted: 15:27 GMT

Interview part of third Martin Reilly Lecture Series

As part of the Martin Reilly Lecture Series, Comhrá Ceoil and NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies have organised a public interview with Mary O’Hara, singer and harpist. The interview will be conducted by Dr Méabh Ní Fhuartháin, Acting Director at the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway and chaired by Dr Helen Lawlor of DKIT, and will take place at 7pm, on Tuesday, 8 April.

Mary O’Hara, originally from Sligo and now resident on the Aran Islands, is a leading figure in the popularisation and globalisation of Irish music during the latter half of the twentieth century.  Beginning in the 1950s, she played a seminal role in the reconfiguration of Irish music performance in the public domain through recordings, radio and TV appearances, and her worldwide concert tours. In a review of two albums of songs with harp accompaniment by Mary O’Hara, the critic Charles Acton advised that ‘at least one of these records should be in every home’ (The Irish Times, 1960) and O’Hara’s return to the concert stage in 1977 was declared the ‘folk music event of the year’ (The Observer, 1978).

In the wider sphere of the representation and interpretation of Irish cultural identity in the late twentieth century, her role is an important one to recognise. The public interview will provide an opportuntiy to explore this role in music and music-making. Though most well-known for her Irish repertoire, Mary O’Hara’s music draws from other wells of folk and non-folk genres.  Her performances of traditional and newly composed material in her distinctive voice and accompaniment style leaves a legacy still heard in the contemporary sounds of Irish music.

The Martin Reilly Lecture Series is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated nineteenth century Galway uilleann piper, who left a rich musical legacy to generations of pipers. The lecture series will give an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their research in a public forum and the audience will get to hear some tunes, see some dancing and listen to some songs as well. 

The interview with Mary O’Hara takes place in the SAC Room (CA110) in St. Anthony’s on campus (Upper Newcastle Road Entrance). Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

Further information on this interview and other planned talks in the series is available at 091 492051 or, and Facebook: Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series.


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