Francis O’Neill And The Restoration Of Irish Music
A lot of folks don’t know the story of Francis O’Neill. He left Ireland during the potato famine at the age of 16 on a merchant ship. There’s lots of stories to tell of his life there, but the truly remarkable story is how he restored Irish music not in Ireland, but in Chicago and may be the sole person responsible for keeping this fantastic music alive not only in the new world in the 19th century, but beyond. He is the author of several music books, called "the Fiddler’s Bible" among musicians. I picked up a copy of "O’Neill’s" back in the 1970s and still use it to this day.
I’d like to hear some of your stories about Mr O’Neill. I know a bit about his activities in Chicago, how he would ride the trams listening to people singing and whistling and then write down the melodies he heard. How he would hire any Irish musician he heard about, put them on the force, and get them to teach him their tunes. I know he took a bullet in a gunfight which lodged against his spine and never left his body.
Let’s talk about Francis O’Neill!