By Eileen Murphy
Well, that didn’t take long, did it? We figured that when Sinead — oy, make that Mother Bernadette Mary O’Connor — announced that becoming a priest wouldn’t necessarily mean refraining from . . . well, you know . . . that there would soon be the pitter patter of little feet around the ol’ O’Connor hacienda.
O’Connor has announced that she is expecting a little bundle of joy (her third), with Irish newspaper reporter Neil Michael. The two met while he was interviewing her a couple of months ago. You know, it was spring, romance was in the air, she looks kinda cute in that Roman collar, etc.
Sinead must really like literary men. You will recall that she had a similarly whirlwind-ish relationship with Irish journalist John Waters, father of her daughter Roisin. As we reported a few months back, Sinead battled Waters in court over custody of the child. In the end, she allowed Waters to have primary custody, and agreed that he could raise the child in Dublin. O’Connor plans to visit the child frequently from her home in London.
Sinead also has an 11-year-old son from her marriage to musician John Reynolds. The couple divorced (amicably) many years ago, and the boy lives with O’Connor.
The media slant on this new development seems rather jocular, which bothers us a bit. Though it’s easy to mock Sinead’s activities, including her dicey "ordination," her outspoken criticism of the church and her sometimes ill-advised career choices, at the core she seems sincere in her beliefs. And there’s nothing funny about her moments of desperate unhappiness, illustrated vividly by her recent suicide attempt following the custody battle.
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At the risk of sounding like Oprah for a second, everything Sinead’s done points to a person who’s still searching for some kind of spiritual peace. Sure, it’s ironic that she’s a pregnant "priest." Though tempting to quip that "it could happen to a bishop," babies are serious business, and we only hope she’s ready.
‘Tenors’ back on a high note
Unless you’ve spent the past few months on an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, you know that the biggest Irish phenomenon since "Riverdance" to hit these shores is the "Irish Tenors." They’re everywhere: public television, Irish radio shows, in our daydreams, you name it. Now, the three sweet-voiced singers, John McDermott, Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan, are ready to raise the roof on New York’s Madison Square Garden this Monday evening, July 19.
The tenors were a surprise hit on PBS over St. Patrick’s Day, reviving beautiful old songs like "I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," "Toora Loora Loora" and "Danny Boy" and breathing new life into them. Each has his own style, and though some may quibble about McDermott’s — really, he’s more a folk singer than a tenor — we think their voices complement one another beautifully.
Joining McDermott, Kearns and Tynan at the Garden will be world-famous Irish flautist James Galway, last seen in these parts during the "Both Sides Now" concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And in a rare area appearance, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Great Britain will perform the world premier of Bill Whelan’s "Riverdance Suite."
Since you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, we thought we’d provide a little background info:
John McDermott — The Canadian singer became a star almost by accident. While working for a Toronto newspaper, he recorded a collection of Irish songs as a gift for his parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. The album, titled "Danny Boy," was heard by a recording exec at EMI Records. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ronan Tynan — The Kilkenny-born tenor was recently the subject of an "ABC News" profile as well as an Irish documentary, "Dr. Courageous." When he was 21, both of his legs were amputated below the knee; within a year, he was competing in international track and field events, winning gold medals and setting 14 world records. While attending medical school, he won a BBC talent competition, which launched his singing career.
Anthony Kearns — At only 27, the youngest of the tenors began his career by winning Ireland’s "Search for a Tenor" competition back in 1993. He has performed all over Ireland, and collected trophies for oratorio as well as the title of Best Male Singer at the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera. He says that the highlight of his career was singing at the All Ireland hurling and football finals in Croke Park. (Well, you know, guys will be guys.)
Concert tour update: lucky tenor fans in Missouri will be happy to know that a show has been scheduled for the Kiel Center in St. Louis on Thursday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, call (314) 241-1888. Also, after a bit of confusion, the Pittsburgh show is back on, and scheduled for the Pittsburgh Civic Center on Saturday, July 24, at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call (412) 323-1919.
The rest of the schedule is unchanged:
Toronto July 14 Air Canada Center
Boston July 16 Fleet Center
Albany July 17 Pepsi Arena
Hartford July 18 Hartford Civic Center
New York July 19 Madison Square Garden
Washington July 20 MCI Center
Long Island July 22 Nassau Coliseum
Philadelphia July 23 First Union Center
Cleveland July 25 Gund Arena
Detroit July 27 The Palace at Auburn Hills
Chicago July 28 United Center
Weesa no think that Ballymena politician Maurice Mills will be adding his few bob to George Lucas’s coffers anytime soon. The county councilor who represents Liam Neeson’s hometown is spittin’ mad after reading remarks that the "Star Wars" hunk made during an interview with George magazine.
The Daily News reports that Mills became upset when Neeson referred to the Battle of the Boyne as "some bloody obscure war," and questioned why the defeat of (Catholic) James II by the army of (Protestant) King Billy III in 1690 is celebrated to this day.
Hey, seems like a fair question to us. After all, aren’t there other things the Orange Order could be doing in the nice warm weather besides marching through Catholic areas?
Anyway, the thing that got Mills really mad was Neeson’s remark that the "distillation of loss has been deformed and passed down from father to son," and his contention that he was "genetically encoded" to leave Ballymena.
Mills fumed that Neeson’s words were "a slur on the town of Ballymena," and has vowed never to see the new "Star Wars" flick. Now, we’re sure Mills is upset about the interview, but we suspect the real reason he’s avoiding the multiplex is that he’s heard about that annoying character Jar Jar Binks. But, really, Maurice, he’s not in it that much, and it’s worth the price of admission to watch Liam’s light saber duel with Darth Sith. Trust us.
We hear that Rosie O’Donnell is house-hunting in the ever-so-trendy Hamptons. She’s looking in the budget-conscious $10 million range.
You’ll be able to hear for yourself why Colum McCann is one of our favorite Irish writers this Tuesday, July 20. He’ll be reading from the new paperback version of his international bestseller "This Side of Brightness" at Barnes and Noble, 82 Street and Broadway, NYC. The reading starts at 7:30 p.m. The event is free, which should leave you with enough money to buy yourself a little something. Like, maybe a copy of the book, if you like what you hear (which you will) . . .
Chief Chieftain Paddy Moloney wears two hats: he’s the leader of the world’s most famous and innovative Irish traditional band, and the head of Wicklow Records, which specializes in world music. This Sunday, July 18, Moloney and Wicklow recording artists Värttinä, Laurel MacDonald and Bill Laswell, Yat-Kha and DJ Delphine Blue will appear on Central Park’s SummerStage for what they promise is "a day of rare world originality."
Special guest appearances by Chieftains’ harpist Derek Bell and fiddle phenom Ashley MacIsaac are scheduled. The whole thing’s free and should be a blast. DJ Delphine will start things off at 1:30 p.m., and then Moloney and friends will hit the stage at 3.