Maire O'Neill

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Maire O'Neill
Maire O'Neill 001.jpg
ca. 1913
Born Mary Allgood
(1885-01-12)12 January 1885
Dublin, Ireland
Died 2 November 1952(1952-11-02) (aged 67)
Basingstoke, England, UK
Years active 1905–1952[1]
Spouse(s) G. H. Mair (m. 1911–26)
Arthur Sinclair (m. 1938–51)

Maire O'Neill (12 January 1885 – 2 November 1952) was an Irish actress of stage and film.


Born as Mary Allgood, she was known as "Molly". After her father's death, she and her older sister Sara were sent to an orphanage, after which Molly was apprenticed to a dressmaker. Maud Gonne had set up Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Erin) in 1900 to educate Irish women about Irish history, language and the arts, and both sisters joined the drama classes. Their coach was Willie Fay and he enrolled them in the National Theatre Society, which became better known as the Abbey Theatre.[2]

In 1905, Molly met Irish playwright John Millington Synge for the first time and he fell in love with her. In September 1907, he had surgery for the removal of troublesome neck glands, but a later tumour was found to be inoperable. They got engaged before his death in March 1909. Synge wrote the plays The Playboy of the Western World and Deirdre of the Sorrows for her.[1] O'Neill appeared in films from 1930 to 1953, including Alfred Hitchcock's Juno and the Paycock (1930).[2]

She made her American debut in New York in 1914 in the play General John Regan at the Hudson Theatre.[3]

She died in Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke, England, on 2 November 1952, aged 67, where she was receiving treatment after being badly burned in a fire at her London home.[citation needed] Joseph O'Connor's 2010 novel, Ghost Light, is loosely based on Allgood's relationship with Synge.[4][5]


In June 1911 she married G. H. Mair, drama critic of the Manchester Guardian. He died on 3 January 1926. Six months later she married Arthur Sinclair, an Abbey actor. They had two children but divorced.[2]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b E H Mikhail, ed. (1988). The Abbey Theatre: Interviews and Recollections. Barnes & Noble. p. 82. ISBN 0-389-20616-4. 
  2. ^ a b c Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 3. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4. 
  3. ^ Madison Wisconsin State Journal p.6 (17 February 1914) Madison, Wisconsin
  4. ^ "Ghost Light". Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  5. ^ "Brimming with sympathy and skill". The Irish Times. 2010-05-05. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 

External links[edit]