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Welcome to the official website of author John O'Brien, Junior. John was born into a family deeply steeped in its Irish heritage. His father, John Sr., was the founder and continues on as Director of Cleveland's Irish Cultural Festival--an annual civic event which draws more than 35,000 attendees each year. From his father, John inherited a fervent curiosity about his Irish roots, as well as a bottomless love for Irish music. Having for thirty years acted as the festival's Assistant Director, John Jr. has also become an accomplished historian and author. Named in Irish Central's list of the Top 100 Irish Americans for 2011, John is the Co-Founder and Co-Publisher / Editor of the Irish American News. He has also written articles, profiles and reviews for travel, heritage and special interest publications, as well as poetry centered around the themes of love, loss and glory. To read the author's extended bio, click here.


Author John O’Brien, Jr.’s new book, First Generation, was launched at the Irish Books, Art & Music Showcase 2011 in Chicago. First Generation is all original poetry by O’Brien, focused on his experiences growing up in the Irish-American community, music, work, his twenty-five year struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and a ten-year battle with a broken back. Despite the struggles, he has continued to have an impact on the local and national community, and was named one of the 2011 Top 100 Irish Americans by Irish America Magazine.


To purchase a copy of Festival Legends, Songs and Stories, click the Buy Now button.


Festival Legends, Songs and Stories is an exploration into the lives of some of the most well-loved and renowned talents in the history of Irish music.

Perhaps you're a biography or music buff, or perhaps you just pride yourself in being Irish. Whatever the case, if you don't recognize the name Tommy Makem or Liam Clancy, you'd be doing yourself a favor to delve deeper. John has followed the trail of Irish music to its origins--from Fit-Ups who wandered the countryside, performing from town to town, to the artists who made it big with Gold Records and sold out dates at Carnegie Hall. In his twenty-three years as Assistant Director of Cleveland's Irish Cultural Festival, John has accomplished both the mundane and extraordinary. He has booked flights and hotels, pitched tents, set up stages and vendors' booths, printed tickets, coordinated websites and developed a nationally recognized Cultural Hall. It's hard work, but it all pays off in a magical three day event, at the heart of which is music. Pure and simple: music.

From legendary balladeers like Tommy Makem, Johnny McEvoy, Brendan Shine, Liam Clancy, and Danny Doyle, to groups like The Dublin City Ramblers, Cherish the Ladies and Barleycorn, John has gained unprecedented insight, not only into their music, but into the lives which shaped the music..

On January 30th, 2004, came the sad news: famed Irish tenor Derek McCormack had died. His passing sparked in John a desire to preserve the legacy of the festival legends, both as a gift to future generations, and as a way of honoring the profound impact their music had had on his own life. Histories left unrecorded, are histories lost, and when history is lost, so are the lessons held within it. Whether listening to Patriot Game or Four Green Fields one hears struggle amidst the poetry, the universal struggle for respect, freedom... survival. These are the struggles which bind and define us, and which are at the very core of Festival Legends, Songs and Stories. What makes this book even more extraordinary is that the stories are told--as is only fitting--by the legends themselves, whose indominable spirits and consequent glories can be seen to mirror trials and triumphs of the Irish as a people. From battling colonization, to the hardship of famine, to the sting of alienation in a new world, through it all, the Irish have persevered. This book is dedicated to Derek McCormack, and all the artists whose lives have reflected that struggle... and whose music has inspired by rising above it. To read more about the book, click here. To buy now, click here.


Copyright © 2011, or its affiliates, All Rights Reserved

From Tommy's Song

Freedom’s Sons are singing;
singing sad songs,
to their love, songs.
Pretty Maggie O’, Sally O’,
Pretty Saro and Rosie.

for some,
a Song For The Children.

In The Time Of Scented Roses,
let they be not black,
The Long Woman’s Grave.
Rather Sing Me The Old Songs;
of Rambling Rivers
in The Rambles of Spring,
Clear Blue Hills
or Grey October Clouds,
among Long Winter Nights.

If I should return,
If You Should Ask Me,
I’m Going Home To Mary,
Smiling Mary
I can see her, as she holds
our Gentle Annie in her arms,
listening to
The Listowel Blackbird sing;
Music In The Twilight,
In Newry Town

I will return again.

                 ~ John O'Brien, Jr.

John O’Brien, Jr.
14615 Triskett Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44111-3123
P 216.647.1144

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