Magic and grand: Gerry O’Neill in­ducted into CHOF

The Glengarry News - - News -

The Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame holds its in­duc­tion cer­e­mony Fri­day, May 25, at the Bon­nie Glen Pavil­ion in Alexandria. This is the sec­ond of a se­ries of in­ductee bi­ogra­phies sub­mit­ted by the Hall of Fame.

Gerry O’Neill

No greater com­pli­ment can some­one pay to Glen­garry County than to choose it as his or her new home. Such is the case with ac­claimed fid­dler Gerry O’Neill. Drawn to the area by the mu­sic and the peo­ple, Gerry has shared his Ir­ish mu­si­cal her­itage with the county for over 40 years and is a wor­thy nom­i­nee for the Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame.

Gerry im­mi­grated to Canada, from Derry, Ire­land in the early ‘ 70s, set­tling in the Mon­treal area. His fi­nesse on the fid­dle made him a pop­u­lar choice for ap­pear­ances through­out Que­bec, the Mar­itimes, and On­tario. In 1976 he per­formed as part of the Olympic cer­e­monies.

It was through th­ese ap­pear­ances that Gerry met the Glen­garry mu­si­cians with whom he formed friend­ships that for­ever made him a val­ued part of the mu­si­cal fab­ric of the county. The At­lantic, The Grand (John­nie Mac’s), Bob’s, The King Ed­ward and The King Ge­orge Ho­tels all sought Gerry out for ap­pear­ances know­ing that a full- house was sure to fol­low. Fid­dler’s Choice, Fid­dler’s El­bow, and McMartin Fid­dle are but a few of the lo­cal groups with whom Gerry per­formed.

As a full- time mu­si­cian, Gerry is a mas­ter at en­gag­ing his au­di­ence and, in no time flat, en­cour­ages re­quests and calls out, to the joy of those as­sem­bled, “Where’s the dancers? Where’s the pipers?”

It was at one mem­o­rable “Glen­garry Con­cert” at the Na­tional Arts Cen­tre that Gerry, along with his band mate Brian Davis, took the crowd through a “tour” of Scot­tish melodies; with ever chang­ing tem­pos and keys. He had the en­tire au­di­ence singing to a haunt­ing ver­sion of “Loch Lomond” one mo­ment and with “drone of the pipes” on his fid­dle, they were clap­ping and stomp­ing to “Scot­land The Brave” the next.

Gerry has played at ev­ery func­tion imag­in­able in Glen­garry: con­certs, dances, pubs, wed­dings, fu­ner­als and more. He has do­nated his time and his tal­ent to many char­i­ties, fundrais­ers, ben­e­fits and or­ga­ni­za­tions that needed his pres­ence. He has per­formed in con­certs for the Friends of the Ru­ins, recorded tracks to aid the Glen­garry Pipe Band, and helped The Glen­garry High­land Games with their fundrais­ing ef­forts. It was on the Glen­garry High­land Games CD, “Build­ing on Tra­di­tion,” that his one- take ren­di­tion of “Hec­tor The Hero” ce­mented the record­ing into be­ing a Glen­garry trea­sure for­ever. Gerry has also been an avid pro­moter of Glen­garry tal­ent, en­cour­ag­ing young per­form­ers and mu­si­cians, as well as the veter­ans in their mu­si­cal pur­suits. It was of­ten due to Gerry’s rec­om­men­da­tion that most lo­cal tal­ent found them­selves on stages in Mon­treal and Ot­tawa. Gerry had great con­fi­dence in Glen­garry tal­ent and thanks to his “nod,” for many young mu­si­cians, new doors were opened.

With his gen­uine love of “the mu­sic” and his Ir­ish charm, Gerry is a “Glen­gar­rian” for sure, de­spite his “wee” teas­ing of Glen­garry fid­dlers when he quizzes if they knew the “Ir­ish Roots” of that “Scot­tish Tune” they just played and the orig­i­nal key that it was played in?

Two of Gerry’s favourite words in de­scrib­ing a spe­cial oc­ca­sion or per­for­mance are: “magic!” and “grand!” It is more than fit­ting that the “magic” of Gerry’s mu­si­cal con­tri­bu­tion and his friend­ship to Glen­garry be hon­oured in The Glen­garry Celtic Mu­sic Hall of Fame.

Now, wouldn’t that be “grand?”

Gerry O’Neill

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.