The death has taken place of one of Galway’s most talented and dedicated Gaeilgeóir.
Together with her devoted husband Seán for 60 years or more, Máire Stafford was at the hub of all, attending every function to do with the promotion of the Irish language and its culture.
In the late forties and early fifties the couple were the glue that held Connradh na Gaeilge together, and anybody who ever visited the Árus in Dominick Street in those days will remember the fun and enthusiasm she brought to learning and enjoying Irish dancing, music and song.
In her youth she was a member of The Emerald Girls Pipe band, and was decidedly republican in her outlook.
Together with her lifelong love and partner, her husband Seán, she helped run Feis Ceoil an Iarthair, Féile Scoil Drámaíochta, and many other Irish events. It would be fair to say she had a huge influence in establishing a love of Irish in a whole generation of Galway boys and girls. She had a great influence on young girls in particular and was a wonderful role model for many of them in the clubs she organised and ran in those pre-television days.
In the Taibhdhearc Máire was a superb actress and played in many leading roles such a Big Maggie and Moll. She wrote and directed plays, and was in charge of costumes for 40 years or more and could whip up a costume out of nothing. She also has endless film and television credits to her name as an actress and performer.
Máire was an extremely gifted embroiderer, specialising in Celtic art, and there can be few Irish dancers who did not wear one of her creations on their dancing costumes from the 1950s to the 1980s. She was a talented artist, sketcher and maker of mosaics.
She wrote novels, plays, and pantomimes and, as a translator of song lyrics from English to Irish, she had no equal. She had the knack of getting the meaning, rhyme, and rhythm to match, a task which needs a very special skill, a skill that few others have mastered before or since.
As well as all of her other talents, Máire Stafford was a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and as soon as most of her children were able to walk, they were involved in some way with her many pursuits, and were quickly accomplished actors, singers and dancers.
She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and particularly by those who were involved in the many organisations in which she was a central figure. She was one of Galway’s treasures, a fact that was acknowledged by NUI Galway where she and Seán were awarded honorary degrees.
She is survived by the love of her life, Seán, and their five children, Rory, Fionnuala, Maolíosa, Orflaith, and Conall, and their families.
Suaimhneas Siorraí dá hAnam glégheal