10 October 1930|
Rosses Point, County Sligo, Ireland
|Died||23 July 2007
County Dublin, Ireland
|Spouse(s)||Francis J. Barry (19??-his death); 4 children|
|Relatives||Mary O'Hara (sister)
Sebastian Barry (son)
Joan O'Hara (born 10 October 1930 – died 23 July 2007) was an Irish stage, film and television actress. She was one of Ireland's most popular actresses and was, at her death, recognisable to television viewers as Eunice Dunstan, a gossip in Fair City on RTÉ One.
O'Hara was a member of the renowned Abbey Players and performed in many plays in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, including those by Seán O'Casey, Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats. She appeared as Maurya in the 1988 film The Dawning. She appeared in a number of other films, including Ron Howard's Far and Away, Da, Footfalls, Home is the Hero and just before her death, How About You. In this her final film, she starred with Vanessa Redgrave and her friend Brenda Fricker. The strength of her performance and bravery in carrying it out was acknowledged by the cast and crew in a standing ovation.
More recently, O'Hara was best known for appearing in the popular Irish television soap opera Fair City, broadcast on RTÉ One. She joined the soap in 1994, portraying the character Eunice Dunstan until her own (O'Hara's) death in 2007. Thus she was described as both one of Ireland's most popular actresses and as one of the finest actors of her generation on her death. She admired in particular Samuel Beckett, Federico García Lorca and Ingmar Bergman. While she took a no-nonsense approach to her craft, famously giving the advice that when in doubt, one should relate to the fireplace, she was educated at the Abbey School of Acting and had a deep appreciation and knowledge of theoretical approaches to acting and was an admirer of the European and American avant-garde. As actor Alan Stanford said after her death, "She had the most amazing energy. She was in the truest sense one of the last of the greats".
O'Hara was born and raised in Rosses Point, County Sligo, the daughter of Major John Charles O'Hara, an officer in the British Corps of Royal Engineers and his wife, Mai (née Kirwan). She attended the same Ursuline convent school as fellow actress (and friend), the late Pauline Flanagan.
O'Hara lived most of her life in Monkstown, Dublin, with a stay in London, with her husband, the poet and architect Francis J. Barry. The couple had four children: Siubhan, Jane, Guy, and Sebastian, an author/playwright, whose works include The Steward of Christendom, and the Booker-shortlisted novels A Long Long Way and The Secret Scripture.
- "Admired and gifted Abbey actor who put family first". The Irish Times. 28 July 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- Moloney, Eugene; O'Brien, Jason (25 July 2007). "Joan O'Hara, ex-Abbey star and Fair City gossip, dies". Irish Independent.
- Prone, Terry (30 July 2007). "Our inability to choose how we will be remembered is Deeply Regretted". Irish Examiner.
Her death, last week, was surrounded by injustices, not least of them the fact that such a fitness freak (she was a year-round sea-swimmer) should not have survived into serious old age.
- "Fair City actress Joan O'Hara dies". RTÉ Arts. 24 July 2007.