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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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County Board open to GAA museum proposals

By Sean Moriarty The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county. There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county.

There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built in their home town.

Before he retired from politics in April, Michael Gleeson was campaigning to build a GAA and cultural museum on the grounds of Fitzgerald Stadium.

His campaign goes back several years before the recession set in, with a €0.5 million bridging loan secured from Croke Park along with funding from Fáilte Ireland. That funding was lost with the onset of the recession before 2010.

Tim Murphy, the outgoing chairman of the Kerry County Board, has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser that no approaches have been made to the County Board at executive level during his five year stint at the helm.

However, he said the Board would be open to such approaches provided there is sound financial planning behind the project in place.

“The first and most important aspect is the capital funding and my understanding is there needs to be Fáilte Ireland funding in place first,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “If it gets up and running, there needs to be very clear talks with all stakeholders so everyone knows each others expectations. A museum attracts footfall, but it costs a lot of money to run. We would offer an open door policy to all proposals but funding, first from a capital point of view and then from an operational point of view, will need to be in place.”

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Loreto pupils are happy to help save the planet

By Michelle Crean School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign. Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme. It’s all about taking on […]

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By Michelle Crean

School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign.

Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme.

It’s all about taking on a litter-picking adventure in their local area as well as learning songs, reading storybooks, filling in activity books while witnessing that their real-world actions are making a positive difference and inspiring others to join the movement.

Picker Pals is a unique primary school programme that gives children the tools and motivation to become the next generation of environmentalists, teacher Claire O’Meara explained.

“The Picker Pal Programme is a fantastic initiative and will go a long way to raise awareness of the impact litter has on our environment,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

Real litter-picking is motivated by a Picker Pack made from upcycled dinghy sails and containing adult and child litter-picking tools, gloves, hi-vis vests and safety information.

“This pack is then taken home by a different pupil every week. That child takes their adult on a litter-picking adventure. The children then tell the story of their litter-picking adventures through art and writing. Raising awareness is an essential part of the solution to littering. Picker Pals gives young people the tools and positive motivation to steward their local environment and make the world a better place.”

The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE Ireland, is funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and various local authorities across Ireland.

Now in its third year of operation, over one thousand schools all across Ireland will be taking part in the Picker Pals programme this year. In Kerry, 29 schools are taking part, and Scoil Bhríde, Loreto is delighted to be included, she added.

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