JOHN O’Connor is probably better known for his journalism with The Munster Express and for his regular regional news spot on Drive Time. He has written poetry, and a poem dedicated to those who lost their lives at sea entitled ‘Souls of the Sea’ has a special place on the Memorial Wall in Dunmore East.
However, John is also well known in musical circles. I can remember John writing and performing his own material during his teenage years back in the sixties. John’s obvious talent was recognised in professional and semi-professional circles and was in great demand as a session-recording player with a number of professional and semi-professional bands. He had his own recording success with the Dixies Showband from Cork during the early part of the seventies. As the band’s lead singer he had two Top Twenty hits, the biggest being ‘Goodbye My Love Goodbye’, which stayed in the charts for three months in 1974. John is still singing and playing music locally and his strong baritone continues to hit the right spots with local audiences.
John has been busy in Lockdown. He’s just released a new album ‘On the Promenade’ that John says, “takes me back to my roots with some of the most popular Irish ballads” and songs such as ‘On Raglan Road’, ‘The Parting Glass’, ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’ and ‘Green Fields of France’. Contemporary folk also works its way into the album with numbers like Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ and Phil Coulter’s ‘Home From the Sea’.
There’s three of John’s own compositions here, including the title track, ‘On The Promenade’ that I just love. This ballad will be a real hit – especially in the Déise. This song’s lyrics will really hit the sweet spot of many hearts as it echoes the experiences of lovers – today’s and yesterday’s – that “walked hand-in-hand into the future”. Memories of fanfare noise from the amusements mingles with music escaping from the legends of the old Atlantic ballroom down to the slipways as the tide thunders its surf against the Prom wall. The recent Lockdown experience, when “life seemed to lose its shine”, proved just how special a place this promenade remains for everyone and O’Connor’s ballad really captures this.
There’s a real easy-listening quality to this album with a strong country-and-western feeling in a number of big ballads such as ‘Angel of the Déise’, that’s already proving a big hit with Spotify. The Waterford classic ‘In Happy Moments Day by Day’ from Maritana by William Vincent Wallace is also a welcome inclusion on the playlist.
It’s easy to warm to John’s baritone. It’s deep and consoling with a remarkable range that gives the singer a wide repertoire.
The album is available on CD from The Munster Express offices on the Quay and on all the main streaming platforms.