Galway’s arts scene lost one of its most colourful personalities last week with the sudden death of Connor Maguire, my erstwhile comedy sidekick and long-time friend. As Maguire & McBride, or in tandem with Eamonn and Fiona Kelly in The Comedy Cumann, we regaled audiences at Cúirt, the Galway Arts Festival and other occasions and locations for many years.
Connor also appeared in some memorable satirical shows with poet and playwright Sydney Bernard Smith and proved himself a fine actor and director in many other productions here in Galway and elsewhere throughout his career.
One recollection which surfaced, among many fond tales shared by his old friends at his Saturday funeral, was when, during a comedy sketch involving Connor, myself, Eamonn and Fiona, Connor’s chair toppled off the the side of the stage sending him into a backward somersault. Scarcely missing a beat he rapidly recovered himself, delivered a funny ad lib to cover the mishap, and resumed the sketch as though nothing had happened.
Connor had an exasperating habit of being late for appointments in life so it is sadly ironic that he should have left us all too early. Born in 1958 as Bernard Michael O’Connor Maguire, to give him his full title, he spent his childhood in Kilkee, County Clare, and latterly his family moved to Cahirnacon, Moore Hall, Mayo. His father Brian passed away some years ago and he is survived by his mother Kate and siblings Donal and Honor.
Connor often spoke proudly of his siblings and their children and being ‘Uncle Connor’ meant a lot to him. He loved relating tales of his much-loved father and Brian’s twin, Donal, who has also passed away. He described Brian as an old-fashioned romantic who had pursued a romantic dream to settle in a home near the woods with his cherished wife and family. Another beloved relative was his Aunt Honor, or “T’ant Honor” as he christened her, whose Tralee home he referred to as ‘the happy house’.
It cannot be denied that Connor was a vain son of a gun, as he would admit himself without the slightest embarrassment. One memory I have is on my first night in a house we shared in Sligo, as he was talking to me from his chair he kept looking over to his side; ‘Why is he doing that?’ I wondered – then I discovered there was a mirror on the wall where he was casting self-admiring glances. Admittedly, he was a handsome buck, as quite a few ladies will attest, and if he was vain he could also be very kind, as a number of affectionate stories shared post-funeral bore out.
During his time in UCG, as NUI Galway then was, Connor served as the Student Union welfare officer. Legalisation of contraception was enacted during his tenure and Connor was the man who made condoms readily available to the student fraternity, earning himself the campus-wide nickname ‘Condom Maguire’, in which he, typically, took quite a degree of pride.
One show of Connor’s we never did get to see was his Naked Macbeth, a production he had been planning and plotting for quite some time. It was a measure of his seductive powers of persuasion that he had convinced a number of Galway actresses to commit to this daring and intriguing project.
Quite aside from his theatrical gifts he was also an eloquent and witty writer whose contributions enlivened the pages of this very paper and, in more recent times, The Tuam Herald. His other accomplishments included radio presenting, for which his suave voice was ideally suited, and arts administration, as the first director of St John’s Arts Centre in Listowel.
Over the past few years Connor’s health had declined due to a progressive condition which affected his mobility and saw him confined to a wheelchair. A number of good friends were loyal and generous supports to him throughout this time, including Deirbhile Ní Bhrolchain, Cynthia McCormack, and, especially, Eimir Creedon who would heroically pester him into making and keeping doctor appointments and accompany him on those forays which he might otherwise have dodged.
In conclusion all I can say is; Connor you drove me mad half the time but I loved you and most of us who had the privilege of knowing you will probably share those sentiments. Adios Amigo!