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Accordion legend Liam O’Connor revels in lockdown creativity

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CREATIVITY: Local musician Liam O'Connor this week talks about the music industry, his creativity during lockdown and future projects. Photo: Michelle Crean

 

This week journalist with the Killarney Advertiser Sean Moriarty is 'In Conversation' with local musician Liam O'Connor about the music industry, his creativity during lockdown and future projects.

Local musician Liam O’Connor turned lockdown into one of his most creative periods to date.

Like all musicians, he found himself out of work in March and believes he won’t return to live performing until late this year if not early next year.

Named last year as 'Ireland’s Most influential Accordion Player' at the Irish Entertainment Awards, Liam enjoys a hectic schedule - something that did not change over the last four months despite being unable to play live.

His last gig, alongside Dermot Kennedy and special guest Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt, was the annual St Brendan’s College concert on March 11.

The very next day the country went into shutdown - but instead of feeling sorry for himself, he turned his attention to several projects that had been put on the long-finger as he was previously too busy.

“It was no harm to get out of the rat race,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “Lockdown became a creative time.”

Liam has put the finishing touches into an album with the RTE Concert Symphony Orchestra which he hopes will be released later this year.

“This was a project that fell by the wayside but I am glad to say we are putting the finishing touches to it now,” he said.

He also hopes to release a single with a song he previously recorded with Boy George.
‘Am I Losing Control’ featured on Liam’s first album ‘Tico Mystico’ which was released in 2010 but the collaboration with Boy George has never been released as a single.

“It has been a creative time for me – I have been fine tuning stuff,” he added.

The work was recently remastered at London’s famous Abbey Road Studio where The Beatles famously recorded their 'Abbey Road’ album that gave the studio its name – it was previously known as the blander EMI Recording Studio.

“All of my albums have now been remastered at Abbey Road,” he said. “It is an amazing place to work, and you get to meet some very talented people there. Of course I could have got them remastered locally - why go to Abbey Road? Why not?”

If that wasn’t enough he has also taken on a new job as a music educator. He has joined the Government’s Music Generation programme, a scheme backed by Bono and U2 to open music education to everyone regardless of background or status.

He will start with the Kerry Education and Training Board, as music teacher/educator in September.

His usual busy schedule at this time of the year would include weddings, pub gigs and a few nights a week performing at Celtic Steps at Killarney Racecourse.

As he is registered for tax purposes he was able to avail of the Government’s COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week for the duration of the shutdown.

“I am thankful that for the first time ever the Government were able to put money in the pockets of the self-employed who hit bad times,” he said. “Not many people would say it but I think Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris did a very good job.”

An advocate of mental health well-being Liam has shown that even in the darkest times, creativity continues and life can be very busy even when there is nothing happening.

“I am a total believer in the power of the positive mind,” he said.

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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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