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For the author of the 'Flicka' books, see Mary O'Hara

Mary O'Hara (born 1935) is a singer and harpist with a pure soprano voice.Born in County Sligomarker, Irelandmarker, O'Hara achieved fame on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her recordings of that period influenced a generation of Irish female singers who credit O'Hara with influencing their style, among them Carmel Quinn, Mary Black, Maire Brennan, Ann Breen and Mary McGonigle, among others. In his autobiography Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour (2002) Liam Clancy writes about how the music of Mary O'Hara inspired and influenced him and others of the Folk Revival period.


Mary won her first competitions, Sligo annual Music and Drama singing competition, at the age of eight and made her first radio broadcast on Radio Éireann before she left school at the age of 16. . She went on to perform at Edinburgh International Fringe Festival with the Dublin University Players, BBC's Quite Contrary and on the Ed Sullivan Show before she starred in her own BBC television series. Her first recording contract was with Decca Records. Italic text'

She introduced to Americanmarker poet Richard Selig by Irish poet Thomas Kinsella and married Richard in 1956. She moved to America with him where her star continued to grow. When Selig died of Hodgkin's disease only 15 months after their marriage, O'Hara continued to tour and record for four years. In 1962, she became a nun at Stanbrook Abbey, where she lived for 12 years. Her wedding band was melted down and made into a ring to celebrate her final vows as a nun in 1967.

Her initial speedy rise to fame was repeated in 1974 when she left the order and returned to performing and in a matter of months she become one of the biggest international recording stars to come out of Ireland.Her autobiography is The Scent of the Roses. The title is taken from one of her favourite songs by the Irish poet Thomas Moore. . Her other books include Celebration of Love and the coffee table book A Song for Ireland'Hara%22&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=5 that is a collector's item and no longer available.

O'Hara continued her singing career for a further 16 years retiring from performing in 1994. Late 1985 she married again, to Dr. Pádraig O'Toole who was instrumental in the development of her career from 1974. They recently spent six years in Tanzania where O'Toole taught at the Tanzania School of Journalism (U of Dar es Salaam). A musical play about O'Hara's life called Harp on the Willow was a great success in Australia in early 2007. She has just completed 5 volumes of her harp accompaniments. O'Hara still travels giving talks (Travels with My Harp). Some recent talks have been at the Yeats International Summer School, Sligo (2007), the O'Carolan Festival, Knobber, Ireland (2008), Northern Lights Harp Festival, Ottawa (2009), NYU (2009), Boston College (2009) and elsewhere. The Burns Library at Boston College houses her 'papers' and is holding a "Marry O'Hara" exhibition ending April 30 2010. With her husband, she now resides part of the time in a 17th century thatched cottage in Berkshire in the south of England and on the Aran Islands overlooking Kilronan harbour, the home ground of her husband..


Her nephew is playwright and author Sebastian Barry. Her sister is Joan O'Hara (Eunice in Fair City on RTÉ-TV) O'Hara took harmony lessons from Dudley Moore before he was famous.


O'Hara's recording of "Oro Mo Bhaidan" is sampled heavily in Passion Pit's 2008 single "Sleepyhead."


  • Songs of Erin, Decca-Beltona 1957
  • Love songs of Ireland, Decca-Beltona 1958
  • Songs of Ireland, Tradition-Everest 1958
  • Songs of Ireland, Decca-Emerald 1967
  • The folk song tradition (one track), Tradition-Everest 1960
  • Mary O'Hara's Ireland, Decca Emerald-Gem 1973
  • Mary O'Hara's Scotland, Decca Emerald-Gem 1974
  • Monday Tuesday, Decca Emerald-Gem 1977
  • Songs for Children, Decca Emerald 1977
  • At the Royal Festival Hallmarker, Chrysalis 1977
  • Focus on Mary O'Hara, Decca 1978
  • Music speaks louder then words, Chrysalis 1978
  • In Harmony, Chrysalis 1979
  • Farewell, But Whenever / Reminiscing, Hammer 1979
  • Tranquility, Warwick 1979
  • The Last Rose Of Summer French Everest Records
  • The Scent Of Roses, Chrysalis 1980
  • Colours, Images 1981
  • A Song for Ireland, Valentine 1982
  • Recital, Valentine 1983
  • Live at Carnegie Hallmarker, Valentine 1983
  • Live at National Gallery Dublin, Gael-Linn 1987
  • Spread a Little Happiness, Telestar 1985
  • Celebration of Love, Word 1989
  • World of Music, EMI 1989
  • Mary O'Hara Song for Ireland, Shanachie Records 1993
  • Down by the Glenside, Rykodisc 1997
  • Mary O'Hara at Carnegie Hallmarker, Sanctuary Records 2000


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