Nolan family mourns death of "guiding light" Maureen

BLACKPOOL'S most famous showbusiness family was today mourning the death of Maureen Nolan Senior.

She died on Sunday after a long illness, her family today confirmed. She was 81.

Mrs Nolan - whose daughters hit nationwide fame in the 1970s and 80s as the Nolan Sisters - was today described as the "guiding light" who loved her family dearly.

Born in Dublin, her talent was spotted at an early age and she trained as a soprano at the Royal Irish Academy.

She performed in the famous Clery's Ballroom in Dublin where she met Tommy Nolan, whom she married in 1948.

In search of the bright lights of showbusiness, the talented couple, known as the Sweetheart Singers, moved to Blackpool in 1962.

Son Brian said: "Blackpool was booming entertainment wise. They sang as a duo in local clubs and hotels and built up a great reputation.

"It took a huge leap of faith to move to Blackpool with kids. She was a remarkable example of motherhood - bringing up eight kids and keeping a house at the same time as having a professional career.

"We used to hold shows in our garage and invite the neighbours to watch us perform the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. The family act developed from there really.

"Basically they ran out of babysitters. We would sit in their dressing room and one by one we would join the act.

"There was so much love, they were amazing days."

At one time all 10 members of the family were on stage together - Mum, Dad, sisters Anne, Denise, Maureen, Linda, Bernadette, Coleen and brothers Tommy and Brian.

In the early 1970s the five eldest girls broke away to form The Nolan Sisters, but Mrs Nolan Senior didn't give up her microphone.

Brian added: "Up until three years ago she would sing at the Queen's Hotel every Sunday. She was a remarkable talent and a legendary figure around town. She loved Blackpool."

Aside from her children and music, Mrs Nolan Senior's other great love was the church.

For 21 years she volunteered as a carer with the Dicoese of Lancaster and took the sick to Lourdes every summer.

Brian added: "She would go to Church everyday. That was one of the biggest things in her life.

"She had an amazing heart and an amazing capacity to care. She was a very giving person. She was one of life's un-sung heroes."

Mrs Nolan had been suffering from Alzheimer's for four years and died peacefully in her sleep at Chaseley Care Home, on North Promenade.

Brian added: "She put up a good fight. Her carers were amazing. They became part of the family. They're just as upset as we are."

Mrs Nolan's funeral will be held at 10am on Thursday January 10 at Sacred Heart Church, on Talbot Road, North Shore.