by Padraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, W.B Yeats
Moira would appreciate these words on so many levels. They would certainly appeal to her robust intellect. She would understand their deeper meaning and get Yeats’s use of water as a metaphor for the transcendent. Her heart, too, would delight in the sound of the words, their soft rise and fall, their lilting musicality. Most of all, these words would touch and caress Moira’s soul. They would give her great satisfaction, comfort and hope.
I first met Moira in 1994, almost 20 years ago, when we started Delaney Marketing. She worked with us from the get-go and helped us navigate through the early days with her legendary briefings, generous nurturing, endless patience and eye twinkling wit. She played a key role in all our milestone moments as Delaney Marketing became Ovation Group and finally Ovation Global DMC. She brought her fiercely loyal Canadian clients to us, first in Ireland, and then to other Ovation locations. Ever the bridge builder, the Boutros Boutros Ghali of the Meetings and Incentives Industry, Moira consistently ensured that peace ruled supreme between demanding clients and recalcitrant DMCs. How many miraculous solutions were brokered by Moira with timely late night or weekend phone calls?
I’ll miss Moira greatly. I’ll miss the breakfast meetings at the West Egg Cafe in Chicago during IT&ME when she would bring along her famous list, the agenda topics that needed to be dealt with in a face-to-face setting. Pat and I would listen as she’d find the kindest, most discreet ways to let us know we weren’t performing and what needed to be improved. Somewhere in the midst of the discussion annual fees would be aired and discussed but only really as an after-thought for Moira wasn’t in it for the money.
I’ll miss Moira’s great thirst for knowledge. During Site International Conferences or Ovation Summits when you’d be in St Petersburg or Prague or Paris, she’d have her list of places to visit, specific paintings she wanted to view, concerts or operas she wanted to attend. We shared the joyful exuberance of Jersey Boys together last October at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. She never took the privileges of our industry for granted and immersed herself in each new experience, delighting in what she could learn.
I’ll miss Moira’s empathy, her big-hearted generosity, her extraordinary kindness. She filed away in her heart all the bits and pieces of so many lives – immediate family, industry colleagues, friends. She knew how to spell the names of all my children and followed their progress with genuine interest and concern. Her quiet gentleness was balanced, however, by a deep passion for doing the right thing both in business and in life. She had no time for unethical behaviour and was scathing of double standards. In this regard she was a perfect member of the Site ethical committee, a silent, behind-the-scenes, zero-profile role she played diligently for years.
Most of all I’ll miss Moira’s beautiful soul. In a pathologically extrovert industry, full of bright lights and shiny surfaces, Moira’s soul shone from the inside-out. She could network expertly with a gin and tonic in her hand and dance around the show floor of the trade shows with the best of them but she was always steered by a real sense of her own dignity, by enduring human values and by a deep desire to build meaningful, lasting, genuine relationships. Amidst the noise and clatter, the sound and the fury Moira always heard the “lake water lapping … in her deep heart’s core”.
Ar dheis De go raibh an h-anam dilis [Irish: May her faithful soul sit at God’s right hand)
Padraic Gilligan is Managing Partner at SoolNua. During his time at Delaney Marketing Consultants, Ovation Group and MCI he and his partner Patrick Delaney were privileged to be represented in Canada by Moira.