Tributes paid to ‘incredibly gifted’ Derry singing legend Maureen Hegarty following her death

Tributes were paid following the announcement of the death of internationally renowned Derry singer Maureen Hegarty on Wednesday.

Celebrated for her stunning soprano voice, the 78-year-old singer was well known both on the island of Ireland and in the United States of America, where she appeared on the famous Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950s.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after announcing her death, niece Sarah Townsend said her aunt was an “incredibly beautiful woman” and “definitely unrecognized” for what she has achieved around the world.

“She was the most beautiful singer and also an incredibly beautiful woman,” she said.

“It is a terrible loss for our family. She had been ill on and off for the last few years, but it still happened so quickly.

“Her humility was something else. She had no faith in how good she was, and instead it was everyone else who thought she was wonderful.

“We just need people who know. She was truly groundbreaking and tremendously talented.”

As well as being a singer herself, Ms Hegarty was known as a remarkable teacher who passed on her talent and advice to others.

As a teenager in James MacCafferty’s Little Gaelic Sisters, she traveled to America and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the program on which the Beatles later made their famous debut appearance to US audiences.

The singer also worked on shows on BBC, ITV and RTE in the 1980s and released several albums among her many singing engagements across Derry.

Her concert appearances have included performances at the Gaiety in Dublin, the Boston Symphony Hall, the Chicago Opera House and London’s Albert Hall.

Ms Hegarty also won all the major singing titles at the Feis Doire Colmcille and was also a singing teacher when she later moved to Moville.

“Someone told me earlier that she was the sound that got us through the troubles. I thought that was a nice thought,” added Ms. Townsend.

Pat McCafferty of Derry Feis said she was one of the “greatest” sopranos to emerge from the area.

“She had a wonderful ability to interpret the song and give it feeling and majesty,” he told BBC Radio Foyle.

“It’s a gift that few people have, to walk on a stage and captivate an audience. Maureen had that in abundance.”

Ms Hegarty’s funeral service will be held in Moville this Saturday at 11am, with the funeral immediately afterwards in Ballybrack. Tributes paid to ‘incredibly gifted’ Derry singing legend Maureen Hegarty following her death

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