Mary Ellen Brunner
Age: July 8, 1951
Born: I was born in Vancouver at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. I was a premature baby, weighing less than three pounds, and had to be rushed to Vancouver General Hospital and placed in an incubator for several months. However, due to the overabundance of oxygen, the retinas in my eyes were destroyed, leaving me totally blind.
How long have you lived in Vancouver? I have lived here all my life.
Occupations: I taught computer skills in the department for the Visually Impaired at Vancouver Community College in the 1990s. I played fiddle in Celtic music bands from 1995 until present. Currently I play in a duo called Roolya Boolya. We play every Friday and Saturday evening at The Wolf & Hound.
Passions and Interests: Playing music is my biggest passion. I also enjoy walking, reading and socializing with friends.
What do people know you for? Music, and performing live with my fiddle.
Thoughts on Vancouver? Vancouver is the only place I’ve ever lived; it’s home to me and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I don’t mind the rain, and I like the fact that we are a multicultural city where people are friendly. Bus transportation is good in the area I live and having lots of audible traffic signals makes it easier to cross busy streets.
I met Mary when she was playing fiddle at The Wolf & Hound and did not realize she was blind. While chatting I was so impressed to see that blindness didn’t stop Mary from getting around town and following her passion of music and playing late into the nights. For Mary’s portrait I choose the beach front at the end of Balaclava Street; this was very close to where she grew up and played as a child.