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Mary O’Hara was born in County Sligo, Ireland, in 1935.

She first achieved fame between the late 1950s and early 1960s after recording with Decca Records and starring in her own TV series for the BBC. After the death of her husband Richard Selig, an American poet, O’Hara became a Benedictine nun and chose to stay at Stanbrook Abbey, in York. Despite her commitment, O’Hara had to leave the abbey in 1974 on accord of her health problems. Realising that her musical reputation had grown over time, O’Hara made a successful comeback to performing and became one of the biggest international recording artists to come from Ireland.

She has written three bestselling books and recorded twenty albums, performing in all major concert venues across the world. Besides her concert performances, O’Hara has also entertained international fans via her TV and radio show appearances, having had two UK TV series with the BBC (The Starlight Series and Minstrel of the Dawn) and two UK TV series with ITV (Mary O’Hara and Friends’). Likewise, O’Hara has also had her own TV specials and guest-starred on several major TV shows airing at that time.

In 1994, O’Hara finally retired from performing and recording before, in 1996, moving to Kenya (and then Tanzania) with her husband to pursue venturing round Africa for six years. Since she returned to England in 2002, O’Hara has found herself now in-demand as a speaker. It is often requested now that she talk about her autobiography Travels With My Harp or provide multi-media presentations around the world.

Visit her website here.


‘This moving testimony concludes with the revival of Mary O’Hara’s music career and a spell spent in Africa with her second husband.’
The Tablet, 13 October 2012

‘She tells her moving and surprisingly uplifting story honestly and even amusingly – Her account of life in a nunnery is fascinating, her courage and faith are amazing.’
Graham Lord, The Sunday Times

‘A moving autobiography’ she writes with a clean simplicity which is as accomplished as her singing. Ms O’Hara has applied her new found gift to the most intensely moving autobiography for many a year.’
John Paddy Browne, The Irish Post

‘A lady who is as adept with the pen as she is with the lilting cadences of an Irish song.’
Tim Cromer, Cork Examiner

‘Like everything Mary O’Hara does, this book has on it her special personal touch drawn from her own wide experience.’
The Bookseller

‘Her harp-playing revived the tradition of the Irish harp as an accompanying instrument – a tradition that had almost disappeared in Ireland. Her recordings influenced a generation of Irish female singers who credit O’Hara with shaping their style and her music inspired Folk Revival period artists such as Joan Baez, The Clancy Brothers and Bob Dylan.’
New Classics