Lives Remembered

Singer Una O'Callaghan had 'spark of the Divine'

Una O'Callaghan was a singer and music teacher at Victoria College, Belfast

During her funeral Mass at Good Shepherd Church in Belfast, Father Patrick McKenna described Una O'Callaghan as “a spark of the Divine” and said she will be remembered for her beauty, the richness of her life and her voice.

As a child Una was propped up at a piano and learned to love music.

When she passed her exams her father had a silver plaque put on the front door inscribed with her name and her letters.

But Una was a very down to earth woman and as a music teacher at Victoria College she instilled the discipline of performance into her girl students.

For 25 years she guided them through ambitious school musicals as well their exams, both in the preparatory and senior schools.

She was also regularly on stage herself at concerts and recitals.

A leading member of Studio Opera in the days of Irene Sanford and Havelock Nelson, she sang on BBC and Ulster Television and acted at the Arts Theatre, often with her husband, the late Maurice O'Callaghan, himself a well known singer and the original voice promoting the new independent television station in 1959.

He and Una met when they were teenagers and it was always ‘Una and Maurice', a couple who shared their time and their talents.

The last time I was with them together, Maurice asked for his fiddle and, in the dusk of a late December afternoon, he played and Una sang the beautiful Irish airs they loved so well, The Last Rose of Summer and She Moved Through the Fair. A moment to cherish.

Una O'Callaghan lived with her daughter Patricia and their home in Rosetta was a centre of music and laughter.

Daughter Fionnuala inherited her mother's voice and sang at the funeral and son Eoin used the family sense of theatre to go into radio and television, becoming a screen writer and producer of international renown.

As he said in a moving address, Una was exotic and irresistible and captured everyone who knew her with her honesty and her loving nature.

Born the same year that John Logie Baird presented the world with television for the first time and the first feature length ‘talkie' movie was produced, at 91 years of age hers was a life well lived and a life that will be remembered.

Una O'Callaghan died on February 15 and is survived by Patricia, Fionnuala and Eoin and three grandchildren.

Anne Hailes

Lives Remembered