In this episode of Turning Points, Patricia Killeen met Maria Doyle at the Irish embassy. Maria is an Irish singer, writer, inspirational speaker, and mould breaker! Living in France for over 30 years, Maria and her French husband Emmanuel Cuche have seven wonderful children. Her life has been a series of spectacular ‘Turning Points’ starting with her birth in a Magdalene laundry. Thankfully, her grandmother Isabelle rescued her daughter Eileen and baby Maria, from that formerly dreaded Irish institution, and Maria had a happy, modest home life in Dundalk, County Louth.
She won her first singing competition at 5 and found her vocation; she was going to be a singing star! However, she was struck blind at 9 and was sent to a school for the blind. Feisty Maria ran away, negotiating the 80km journey home all by herself! She left school at 13 to embark on her singing career with a whirlwind tour of the US. At 19 she represented Ireland in the Eurovision. She met Emmanuel in Ireland and they moved to France when she was pregnant. After dedicating her life to her family, Maria returned to the public eye when after her Ted talk, Plon published her heartfelt memoir, «On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur» (One Can Only Truly See with the Heart) in 2018. She was a semifinalist in the Voice France in 2020 and sang in the Pantheon in 2022, for the 70th anniversary of the Pantheonization of Louis Braille. Since that spectacular performance, she has been an ambassador for « Voir Ensemble », (See Together) a French association for the blind. Last year, she was a key speaker at a French Ministry of Culture meeting to prepare including the learning and use of Braille in the intangible cultural heritage of humanity at UNESCO. In January, she was awarded a ‘Presidential Distinguished Service Award’, the highest award an Irish person living abroad can be granted.
Towards the end of the interview, we hear the melodious tinkling of a piano as Maria’s son Emmanuel warmed up to accompany Maria at the Embassy reception held in her honour. 100+ people, including many Irish women from the Mnà na hEireann group, were making their way into the adjoining room, to congratulate Maria, to listen to Declan Mc Cavana, MBE, read excerpts from her book, and to be transported by Maria’s heavenly singing and inspirational message, “Anything is possible if you want it enough!”
Turning Points: Maria Doyle
Maria Doyle – You Raise Me Up, (2021) at the Irish Embassy in Paris
Maria Doyle’s socials: