John O'Neil - Interviews

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The Sun, March 16, 2007

Back to Enniskillen – An Irishman's Journey Home

by Marie Merchant

John O'Neil will take the audience on a journey tonight and Saturday with Back to Enniskillen – An Irishman's Journey Home at the Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte.

O'Neil will be performing songs, "When Irish Eyes are Smiling," "Irish Lullabye," "Molly Malone" and "of course an Irish show would not be complete without 'Danny Boy,'" O'Neil said.

"I was never supposed to be doing this," he said. "I trained in piano and voice. Growing up Irish-Catholic in Boston, I was supposed to be sensible and get a job. I was going to be a teacher. About 20 years ago, I walked into a piano bar in Boston and the paino player didn't show up. For the life of me, I still don't know how or why, I walked up to the manager and said, 'I can do this,' and he said, 'go ahead.' A few weeks later I was full-time and there was no looking back. Now I juggle a wonderful artist's schedule and perform around the show, directing shows throughout the greater Boston area and teaching theater camp for kids."

This show is part of a journey that started many years ago for O'Neil. Growing up Irish-American in Boston, my family wasn't particularly Irish, we didn't celebrate the holiday, occasionally my mother would bake Irish soda bread. That's about as Irish as we were." O'Neil recalled.

"My brothers and sister started to wonder where did we come from and the people we needed to ask had passed away, so each of us started looking in different directions. I started looking through music and looking into the real roots of Ireland itself. We ended up in the town of Enniskillen on my 50th birthday. My twin brother and I and his wife found ourselves standing in the center of Enniskillen, the town of our forefathers. That really is what the show is about. Going back and finding ones roots."

"It's interesting, at 50 years old you can find a new part of yourself that you haven't seen before. That's sort of what this show's a little about." Said O'Neil.

I have a new CD I'm releasing the night of the show in Port Charlotte, called If You're Irish, Come Into The Parlor," said O'Neil. "The CD is a live CD that I recorded in 2003 in Natick, Mass. You can go home with the star of the show or the star of the show can go home with you."

Back to Enniskillen – An Irishman's Journey Home is at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the Cultural Center Theater, 2280 Aaron Street, Port Charlotte. Tickets are $15.00. Call 941-206 LEAF (5323) for more information.

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