Much has been written today about the passing of the forever-young 92-year-old Maureen O'Looney, affectionately known as "Mother Ireland" amongst other titles of love and gratitude bestowed upon her during her 60 plus years of living in Chicago.
Maureen was born in Bohola and she and I had a running quip for the last 15 years or so whenever we'd meet, telling me with a broad smile that she loved my band bohola and me telling her it was named in honor of her…
I will miss that.
We'd known each other since the early 1970's when I started playing music around the city and we would meet at various dances, ceilidhs, benefits, wakes, funerals, weddings, the occasional pub, and during the times we'd visit her radio show to play a few tunes.
There were also the trips up north to her Shamrock Imports shop every few months to see what the latest albums from Ireland were along with picking up some sweets, a new song or tune book, and of course the most welcome cup of tea, chat, and her filling us in with the going-on's within the Irish community and beyond. Maureen was "social media" before the concept ever existed.
I last saw Maureen a few months back at the Irish American Heritage Center while I was playing -- I happened to open my eyes in the middle of a tune, looked up and our eyes met as she was heading out. We smiled, she gave me a wink with a gentle twist of her head in approval, waved goodbye and that was it.
Rest in peace Maureen…