When John was a young lad he arrived in Doolin, Co. Clare, on a bicycle in 1972. O’Connor’s was a small pub then and tourists were scarce. He never heard a trad session before and he stayed for three weeks. He met the famous Russell family of Micho, Packie and Gus. Micho taught him his first tune on the tin whistle, a jig called The Tenpenny Bit.
Not long after that, he spent a summer in London where, in The White Hart, Fulham, he heard Raymond Roland, Liam Farrell and other greats of the London trad scene.
He then worked for a few years in the Cork area where he began learning a few tunes and going to sessions in the city where he heard Jackie Daly and Seamus Creagh a few times.
Back home again in Hacketstown, Co. Carlow, he sought out sessions in the counties around me. The one that influenced him the most was Clancy’s of Athy, Co. Kildare, where he heard Martin Hanly (flute), Tom Ahearne (fiddle) and John Campion (accordion). They were wonderful together.
He married Ann in 1980. (They met at a session in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow). She is from Munny, outside Tullow, Co. Carlow. Since the early ’80s, they have lived in Tullow and had four sons.
His guitar-playing son, Eoin, returned on holiday from Canada, intent on recording a duet with him at home. They purchased a mic and two stools and thought they were in the recording business. Thankfully, they discovered Sláine Recording Studios of sound engineer/musician Emmet O’Connor (outside Tullow) who guided them down the right path.
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