Maureen O’Hara: ‘An Irishwoman has guts and stands up for what she believes in’

The late Hollywood actor grew up in Ranelagh, Co Dublin- ‘I didn’t take discipline very well’

The woman who would become the film star Maureen O’Hara was born in August 1920 as Maureen FitzSimons on Beechwood Avenue in Ranelagh. Her mother had been an operatic contralto, and her father was involved in the clothing industry. O’Hara was born into an interesting moment in Irish history in the middle of the War of Independence and with the Civil War looming, the nation was painfully defining itself. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916 had promised “civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens” and throughout her life O’Hara was determined to seize those opportunities.

An active, physically capable child, she earned the nickname “baby elephant”, and enjoyed football, swimming in the river Dodder and horse riding. The only red-haired child in the family, she stood out in childhood in a manner that made her self conscious when adolescence struck. However, she had a dogged streak that she cultivated: “I didn’t take discipline very well. I would never be slapped in school. If a teacher had slapped me I would have bitten her. I guess I was a bold, bad child, but it was exciting”.

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