Mary O’Hara won global acclaim as a singer and harpist. Her recordings sold by their millions and in her concerts and television shows audiences worldwide were thrilled by the warmth of her personality. Yet behind this public success lay a personal tragedy.
Born in the west of Ireland and educated in a convent school, she became a singing star at the age of 16. She fell in love with a young America poet Richard Selig but their marriage only lasted 15 months before his tragic death. Overwhelmed by grief, Mary continued to sing while searching for a convent in which to live the remainder of her life in prayer and silence. She found the answer at the strict Benedictine monastery of Stanbrook in the West Midlands.
12 years later, spiritually enriched but fragile in health, she emerged and restarted her career, winning even wider praise on her worldwide tours. She had her own season at the London Palladium, appeared on the Royal Variety Show, sang at all the major concert halls in the English-speaking world and made frequent guest appearances on television chat shows. Her television shows Minstrel of the Dawn and Mary O’Hara and Friends drew viewers by the millions.
Travels with My Harp takes up the story with many amusing anecdotes from concert tours around the world, but also sheds new light on her earlier years. In 1994 she decided it was time to retire from the stage. Two years later a new life of undreamed of adventure and unexpected challenges opened up when her husband’s work (she remarried in 1985) took the couple first to Kenya and later Tanzania. The six years spent in Africa opened up a whole new world of rich, rewarding experiences such as her work with children born with AIDS. She also discovered a new talent and the book is illustrated with a selection of her expressive sketches of African people she came to know.
For over half a century Mary O’Hara’s voice has delighted audiences all over the world and her recordings continue to sell. Her story is an inspiring tale of triumph over tragedy, helped by her deep religious faith and many friendships with other performers, recounted with warmth and humour in this updated version of her autobiography.