Chief O’Neill: The Book, Coming This Summer

Writers' Tears Whiskey
Sometimes a writer’s tears are of joy

UPDATE: Due to Covid-19, publication has been delayed until May 2021.

Walsh Whiskey, based in Carlow, produce a fine single malt whiskey called Writers’ Tears. It is my favourite tipple at this time, and not just because of the flavour. The other reason is one of celebration. My big announcement is Somerville Press will be publishing my novel based on the life of Chief Francis O’Neill. The launch will take place in Bantry, Co. Cork, just down the road from O’Neill’s birthplace.

O'Neill's Music of Ireland
O’Neill’s Music of Ireland

The chief’s first book was O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, published 115 years ago in Chicago by Lyon & Healy. Lyon and Healy are still there and people are still playing tunes from the 1850 first edited by Captain Francis O’Neill. I don’t want to make any comparison between my novel and O’Neill’s great work, apart from one of unlikelihood. How unlikely was it for a chief of police in a huge city like Chicago to produce an encyclopaedic compendium of Irish music? How unlikely is it for me, at my age and profession, to write a novel about the man behind the book? 

I was lucky enough to dig into the fascinating history of this man and discover the story of his multi-faceted character. It has taken a number of years to put together as a novel. In the course of research and writing, I found out all kinds of surprising connections between my background and his: connections with Cork, Chicago, Japan etc. This blog touches on some of the connections but the real details are in the book.

If you have an interest in the story and want to find out more, further details will be available here soon.


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