Famous soprano had a great friendship with Monsignor Hugh

Dr Veronica Dunne recalling fond memories of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty at a special tribute lunch hosted by Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce at the then Malton Hotel, Killarney, in 2008.
Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

INTERNATIONALLY renowned soprano and music teacher, Dr Veronica Dunne, who has passed away at the age of 93, had close connections with Killarney through her friendship with Rose escape line hero Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

In 1946, as a promising young singer, she and her family were first introduced to the monsignor by a mutual friend and when she went to Rome for specialist classical voice training, she did so under the under the guardianship of Monsignor O’Flaherty.

He collected Veronica at the airport that September and took under his wing for the duration of her stay, showing her the sights and meeting with her regularly to see how she was doing.

Many years later, Dr Dunne became the first ever patron of the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty Society which was set up to fund the erection of a bronze statue in his honour in his native Killarney and to encourage and promote those working in human rights, art, literature, music and drama.

Dr Veronica Dunne pictured in Killarney in 2008 with, front from left, Donnacha Galvin, Pearl Dineen, niece of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty and Patrick O’Donoghue, with, middle row from left, Michael Courtney, Con Dineen, Canon Pat Horgan and Paul Coghlan and, at back, Jerry O’Grady, Cormac Dineen and Cllr Michael Gleeson

In 2008, Dr Dunne made a substantial donation towards the memorial fund and she recalled how supportive he was to her and the friendship they had formed.

A renowned singer in her own right, Dr Dunne also trained some of Ireland’s best known classical singers and, in 1995, she established the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition which was aimed at discovering the best classical singers of the future.

Chatting about old times, Dr Veronica Dunne, a personal friend of Hugh O’Flaherty, chatting with the monsignor’s close relatives Pearl, Con and Cormac Dineen

Veronica Dunne made her operatic debut in 1948 with the Dublin Grand Opera Society and she made her Italian debut in 1952. She later joined the company of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

A legendary teacher, as well as performing all over the world, Veronica Dunne discovered and nurtured the talents of many others through her work as a vocal teacher at the then-Dublin College of Music as well as at the Leinster School of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Six years ago, at the age of 87, Dr Dunne was presented with a lifetime achievement award by President Michael D Higgins.