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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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.35.28I 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.  


11 thoughts on “Moira Hearn (1949 – 2012): A Personal Tribute

  1. Jean Evans says:

    A beautiful and fitting tribute.

  2. Padraic – thanks for these wonderful words about Moira,

    In the past 2 years I have had the privilege to get to know Moira and I have come to like her very much. It was always a great delight to speak to her and it feels totally unreal that she is no longer with us. Her industry knowledge and scope of contacts within the Canadian M&E scene was exceptional and her warm approach together with a great sense of humor made her extremely popular among all of us who dealt with her.

    I will certainly miss the long telephone conversations I had with Moira – as well as the emails I received from her – always so detailed and always full with humor.

    /Marcus Östlundh
    Director, Ovation Scandinavia

  3. Joanne Keating says:

    Thank you for the eloquent tribute to Moira. She will be dearly missed.
    Joanne Keating
    Site Canada President

  4. Padriac,
    What an absolutely beautiful tribute to this lovely woman. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Lulu Stribling
    SITE Global Board of Director

  5. Bonnie Boyd says:


    How many memories I have of Moira! All that you have penned is true and then some. She was the soul of intergrity, loyalty, wisdom, wit and kindness…and a very great lady. There is a huge missing spot in the universe which will never never be filled.

    Bonnie Boyd, CMP, DMCP
    BBC Destination Management

  6. Padraic,
    Thank you so much for this tribute to our dear friend Moira. Words fail me to express my feelings but you said it all for me in such an eloquent way.

    I met Moira for the first time at the 1993 Site Conference in Dublin and since then we became very close friends. We served on the Site board together for 6 years during which she demonstrated her immense ability, wisdom and dedication in our industry and Society. She was a true leader with all the charismatic attributes you mentioned in your tribute. Like many of you I will never forget Moira and I will miss her immensely.

    At your tribute for Moira I will add a small album with photos from her life with Site. Her friends can see them at the link and enrich the album by uploading any digital pictures they have of Moira

    Tasso Pappas CITE

  7. Its Friday evening at 8.55pm. Up to a few months ago Friday evenings at 10pm Moira & I would skype, she would say “lets have an adult beverage & catch up”, hers was a Gin & Tonic, mine a glass of Sancerre and we chatted & laughed. Everything that has been said about her above is true & much more. I will deeply miss her … Rest in peace Moira.


  8. Peggy Whitman says:

    Oh Padraic, how wonderfully and eloquently put. You have said it all. No wonder Moira and I saw eye-to-eye. . . we both had (have) gin & tonics in hand. 🙂 I am having a huge struggle in realizing this news is real. Moira? Gone? Say it ain’t so, Joe! She was so special, so much fun, had such a great sense of humor. . . it’s true, then. . . the good die young.

    I don’t think I will ever get over this but then I believe she and David Riddell are smiling upon us. He with his red wine, she with her G/T’s. . . toasting to their beautiful lives and great legacies left behind.

    I am so very, very sad. . .such a loss. I have a huge hole in my heart.


    1. padraicino says:

      Thanks Peggy – we’ll all miss Moira terribly. I think Site is instituting an award / scholarship in her name which is a fitting thing to do.

  9. Jan Zandboer says:

    Thanks for a great tribute to a grand lady Padraic! The service yesterday was wonderful and completely in Moira style. A number of speakers, including Patrick, got the crowd laughing and crying at the same time. The Celebration of Moira’s Life following the service was perfect in every way. A large crowd of friends and relatives enjoyed delicate finger sandwiches, scones, preserves and clotted cream while reminiscing and sharing stories about Moira Of course the standard drink was Gin & Tonic!
    We will all miss her friendship, humor, knowledge and generosity.

  10. Thanks Padriac, you have most eloquently put into words what we feel. ronica

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