A Girl Called May: (with appendices) by Paul B McNulty

Product Description

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (27 Mar. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1986754669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1986754668
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This edition includes Appendices I through V. Margaret Mary ‘May’ McNulty was born on 5 November 1900 at 15 Warrington Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. There she lived for the rest of her life apart from the 1920s when she sojourned in Italy and Austria. She was the daughter of Thomas McNulty BA BL, originally of Derry City, and Mary Boylan, originally of Dublin. They married in a Roman Catholic Chapel on 30 December 1891. Little is known of May’s early years except that her father died when she was only three and she attended Muckross Park College, a private girls’ secondary school, in Dublin. May McNulty was a singer of sufficient talent to warrant further training in Milan commencing in 1921. She reputedly sang on Radio Éireann but no such record has been found. Neither has her singing talent featured in any Irish newspaper following an online search for Miss McNulty or variants thereof. A Google search was equally fruitless in relation to her singing although her career as an international bridge player was highlighted. While in Milan, she attracted the attention of some male admirers including the operatic singer, Davide Dorlini, a French Tahitian, who revealed his affection for her in a 1922 picture card: all Signorina May McNulty con Auguri (with best wishes.) His possible connection to the late Dag Drollett and the family of Marlon Brando is explored. May McNulty moved to Austria in 1924 after an opportunity to advance her singing career had apparently not emerged. Examination of picture postcards received from her many correspondents revealed that Frida Schad may have been a Holocaust victim; that J.McD in Donegal missed her singing; that M in St Mary’s, Dublin may have been suicidal; that a teaching role for May was indicated in a card signed Your little pupil; that May was a child-minder for eight-year-old Jeannie Enfer destined to become a distinguished Austrian writer who also translated the work of Irish authors into German. An April 1927 picture card reveals May’s move from the provincial Wiener Neustadt to the metropolis of Vienna while remaining dependent on family finance. While there she may have sought to promote her singing career by contact with noted musicologists, Harold Sheldon and Hugo Botstiber. Later that year, she received an intriguing card from Liesl Wanka inviting her to visit again at Vienna. Liesl is mentioned in a critique of Dr Paul Hasterlik by Helene König; in a letter by Hasterlik (later a Holocaust victim) to his son in 1935; and in the diary of Katharina Brömse who mentions Liesl’s involvement in an unspecified project. Having returned to Ireland in 1932, with no apparent sign of a singing contract, May turned to the game of contract bridge destined to become her enduring passion. Now, in her early thirties, her postcard archive peters out and is replaced by newspaper reports. She quickly establishes herself in the world of contract bridge. Progress was reported after WW II when she captained a championship team of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland that travelled to Belfast to play their counterparts representing the Northern Ireland Bridge Union. In 1946, she set up a new record in the competitive bridge by winning for the third time in succession the National Team Championship and Kelburn Cup using only four other players to complete her teams. This was sufficient to preclude an appearance on Radio Éireann, where she partnered Noel Peart in a discussion entitled Meet The Bridge Experts. In 1952, she must have revisited memories of her continental past when playing bridge against Austria whose team included Mrs H Breithner, likely to be the second wife of the famous Viennese Mayor and social democrat, Hugo Breitner. Torquay was May’s final appearance as an international bridge player. Her declining health persuaded her not to participate in the 1960 Women’s World Championship in Turin. May McNulty passed away, as a single woman, in 1966 but her memory lives on.

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