President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Former US President Bill Clinton celebrated the entry of legendary movie star Maureen O’Hara into the ‘Irish America Hall of Fame’ last Friday with letters of good wishes.
Maureen O’Hara was formally inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame by the founder of Irish America magazine, Patricia Harty, at the Dunbrody visitor’s centre, New Ross, Co Wexford. Also in attendance was Chairman of the Dunbrody, Sean Connick, and broadcaster George Hook.
President Mary McAleese said: “During her long and distinguished acting career Maureen’s great talent has brought joy and great pleasure to many thousands of people all over the world. However, despite her worldwide success and popularity, Maureen has never lost her strong connection with Ireland and has always made us very proud to claim her as ‘one of our own’.
“I would like to thank Maureen for all she has contributed to this country’s reputation abroad. I would like to congratulate her on all she has achieved and wish her continued success and happiness.”
Former US President Bill Clinton said: “After a career as Hollywood’s ‘unofficial ambassador’ from the Emerald Isle, you have earned the respect and admiration of colleagues and fans alike.
“As a long-time admirer of your work and a fellow Irish-American, I thank you for all that you have done to nurture our world’s appreciation for the Irish culture.”
The Irish America Hall of Fame is centrepiece of a new visitor centre that has been developed in collaboration with publishers Niall O’Dowd and Patricia Harty of Irish America magazine. The exhibition celebrates the lives, works and achievements of noted Irish individuals such as President John F Kennedy and the Kennedys, Henry Ford, Donald Keough and President Clinton and now Maureen O’Hara.
Speaking at the ceremony, publisher Patricia Harty said: “We in Irish America are delighted to have a permanent home for our Hall of Fame in Dunbrody’s magnificent new Irish Emigration History Centre in New Ross, Co Wexford. We are particularly pleased to be welcoming Maureen O’Hara as our latest inductee into our Hall of Fame. As a star of 60 films, O’Hara lit up the silver screen and engaged the hearts of viewers the world over, but she never forgot her roots, and always proudly declared: ‘Yes, I am most definitely an Irishwoman’.”
The Dunbrody visitor centre is a new building costing €2.6 million, €1.88 million of which was provided under the National Development Plan, administered by Fáilte Ireland on behalf of the Department of Tourism. This new world-class interactive immigration experience is cleverly integrated with the Dunbrody Famine Ship experience.
This new purpose-built visitor centre was officially opened on 8th July 2011 and allows visitors to travel on an historical thought-provoking one-way sea-going journey in famine times. The experience begins at the Quayside with the authentic recreation of the New Ross of the 1840s and culminates at the Irish America Hall of Fame.