Máire ('Mary)' McDonnell Garvey

(10/07/1927 - 29/08/2009)

Máire McDonnell-Garvey, known affectionately as Mary, left her mark on the world of traditional Irish music and literature. Born on July 10, 1927, in Tobracken, County Roscommon, she was raised in a family, one of three children (a girl and two boys) of James McDonnell and his wife Annie Theresa (née Talbot), deeply rooted in rural life and traditional culture. Her upbringing, surrounded by the rich musical heritage of Ireland, laid the foundation for her lifelong dedication to preserving and celebrating Irish traditions.

Despite the early loss of her mother during her Leaving Certificate, McDonnell-Garvey’s passion for music flourished under the tutelage of PJ Giblin, who taught her the violin. She became deeply involved in the local music scene, joining bands like the Aiséirigh Céilí Band and later the Eamonn Ceannt Céilí Band, where her talent and dedication shone through.

In 1948, she married Bob Garvey and relocated to Walkinstown Dublin, where she would raise a family of five children – Sean, Seamus, Carmel, Marie and Ita.. McDonnell-Garvey’s commitment to her musical heritage never waned, even as she balanced family life with her pursuit of education and career.

As a mature student, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Irish, History, and English from University College Dublin in 1970. She then embarked on a career in education, teaching at Árdscoil Éanna, Crumlin and Collinstown Park Community College. Her influence extended beyond the classroom as she dedicated twenty-five years to teaching night classes for Conradh na Gaeilge.

McDonnell-Garvey’s contributions to Irish music extended beyond performance and education. She was a prolific writer and researcher, delving into the history and significance of traditional Irish music. Her publications, including “Mid-Connaught – The Ancient Territory of Sliabh Lugha,” “A Traditional Music Journey 1600 – 2000,” and “Under the Shadow of the Summerhills,” provided valuable insights into Ireland’s cultural heritage.

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, McDonnell-Garvey was actively involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish music. She played a key role in founding the traditional music group Comhrá na dTonn and served as Secretary of the Dublin County Board of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Her dedication to traditional music was recognised with a Gradam award from the Douglas Hyde Summer School in 2007.

Throughout her life, McDonnell-Garvey remained deeply connected to her roots in Roscommon, drawing inspiration from her rural upbringing and the stories of her ancestors. Her legacy lives on through her music, writing, and the countless lives she touched with her passion for Irish culture.

Máire McDonnell-Garvey passed away on August 29, 2009, leaving behind rich memories of tradition and scholarship that continues to resonate within the vibrant landscape of Irish music and literature. Her memory is cherished by her family, friends, and all those who were fortunate enough to experience the magic of her music and the depth of her knowledge.

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Connection with area: Traditional musician and writer who live at 29 Hughes Road East, Walkinstown and worked as a teacher in Ard Scoil Eanna on Crumlin Road