Mary MacGoris


Mary MacGoris is gone from us and it is hard to believe it. To her allies and her antagonists in the worlds of many performing arts in this place, she had seemed a permanent fixture as an expert commentator. In the world of journalism she had seemed a guarantee of certainty and continuity: skilled, experienced and assured while most of us were still wet behind the ears, always welcoming and supportive of the newcomer, whether as a colleague or a rival, yet seldom one to hide criticism or a contrary opinion.

Her range of interests was almost as wide as the world itself and she appeared able to write sharply and perceptively on almost any subject she was asked to cover. Whether dealing with the profound or the trivial, she wrote clearly, concisely and entertainingly, as her readers of the Irish Independent will attest. A graduate of University College, Dublin in English, French and music, she started in Radio Eireann in the 1940s, moved to the Independent as a reporter, and soon became that newspaper's music critic, a post she filled with distinction and personal satisfaction until some months ago.

Her writing on music was always informed by her personal enthusiasm and her opinions were always clearly evident, leaving her readers in little doubt about the merits or demerits, as she perceived them, of the concert, the recital or the opera. Later she became the newspaper's deputy drama critic; she also reviewed films regularly and was the primary dance and ballet critic. Her wide erudition was always worn lightly, just as the authority of her opinion was unassailable, even to the reader who might disagree with it.

In addition to her command of high performance art she managed a lively opinion column on a predictably wide range of subjects and issues, and she had a keen eye for clothes and fashion as well.

Convivial and sociable, she was the complete renaissance person who listened carefully, watched keenly and contributed mightily to the company she was with. She was the female personification of the definition which somebody once gave of a gentleman: one who was never unintentionally rude. Her friends became accustomed to watching her eyes to try to tell if the light in them was the twinkle of humour or the glint of indignation. She was also, despite the fact that she never married, a great family person (nieces and nephews would frequently accompany her to her various professional assignments) and her siblings and their families were absolutely integral to her life.

Deep sympathy must go to her extended family and circle of close friends. They must miss her dreadfully. She is already deeply missed from the worlds of journalism and the arts.