Some people we meet by chance, but some people are meant to meet, here is the lovely story of Chris O’Neill and Mary O’Connor:
Mary O’Connor from Charleville first stayed at The Grand Central Hotel in Lisdoonvarna in 1958, the hotel was run by Susan O’Neill (Chris’s mother in law) at the time Mary used her maiden name Bolger and visited with friends from Limerick. She returned for her honeymoon in 1961 and registered her entry in the visitor book.
In 1973 Chris O’Neill took over the business and became O’Neills B&B, one year later in 1974 Chris added a painting centre to her already successful B&B.
After Mary had reared her family and was widowed, she took up painting as a hobby. She started coming to Lisdoonvarna attending courses at the Burren Painting Centre based at O’Neills and at first she didn’t realise it was the same premises she had stayed in all those years ago.
Mary then returned to O’Neill’s several times with her friend Maura Ryan, also from Charleville. They attended an oil painting course with tutor Fergal Flanagan and journeyed across on the ferry from Doolin to Inisheer island. Chris recalls they had difficulty carrying their equipment, stools and easels and returned with the easels tied up with a pair of tights as they had no string with them!
Mary was also a great traveller and recently, as chance happens, she booked a painting trip to Vence in the South of France organised by no other than Chris O’Neill from The Burren Painting Centre!. Chris describes Mary as “Always jolly and up beat, Mary enjoys herself!” It was on this trip that Mary and Chris struck up a friendship and realised they had crossed each other paths many times before!! Some people are meant to meet…