By Olivia Tracey
While the Riverdancers are stepping it out yet again at the Los Angeles Pantages Theater, New York radio host Adrian Flannelly is making his own musical strides with the recent release of his first CD, “Ireland and Beyond.” It is the realization of a life-long ambition for the Mayo entertainer, who, on arrival in the U.S. in October 1959, began his first job as a pianist with Mickey Carton’s Band before the launch of his radio show in 1970.
It could be said that fate took a definite hand in the production of the musical compilation. Last July, while clearing out his Forest Hills garage, Flannelly had an eight-foot mirror crash down on his right hand, slicing the tendons and leaving it paralyzed. Fortunately, his hand was saved, thanks to micro-surgery at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx. However, still faced with the prospect of endless physical therapy sessions, the ever resourceful Flannelly took matters into his own hands and went back to piano-playing as a major part of his recuperation. And so with that, his dream for an album rolled off the long finger into reality.
The mirror accident forced him to reflect, so to speak, giving him a renewed appreciation for his musical gift and goading him to do rather than dream. During his hospital stay, he was also reminded of his privileged position, a successful man complete with health insurance, affording him the excellent surgical care he received. He also thought of the less privileged, especially immigrants, those for whom health care is an unaffordable luxury. This, coupled with a desire to thank Our Lady’s Medical Center for a job extraordinarily well done, compelled him to produce the album to benefit sick children, both at the Bronx Medical Center and Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.
Mind you, being a nephew of former New York Mayor Bill O’Dwyer and City Council President Paul O’Dwyer, it is not surprising that Flannelly should take an active interest in Irish social and political issues on both sides of the Atlantic. Back in 1970, his musical career took a back seat while his radio show became a driving force behind numerous Irish issues, most notably immigration. In the 1980s, he embraced the opportunity to use the airwave as a vehicle to address the immigration problem, playing a major role in securing visas under the Morrison and Donnelly programs. Attracting a widespread body of support, his efforts really paid off with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of applications at his Madison Avenue office which he personally delivered to the visa center in Merrifield, Va. He was also instrumental in the creation of Project Irish Outreach and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, as well as establishing a link between the Children’s Center of Our Lady of Mercy health care in the Bronx and Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin. Not only that, but his wife and co-producer, Aine Sheridan, is also playing her part in the Children’s Hospital support program with what she hopes will be a Tiger Woods performance at a fund-raising golf tournament on Kildare’s Luttrelstown golf course, June 5, followed later in the summer by another fund-raiser at the Winged Foot golf course in Westchester. For further details, call the radio show’s toll-free number at 1 (888) 374 6227.
By all accounts, album sales have been very healthy since the St. Patrick’s Day launch by Mayor Giuliani in Gracie Mansion. The compilation itself is an easy-listening blend of blues, jazz, traditional Irish, Broadway hits and love songs from “The Fields of Athenry” and “Georgia on My Mind” to “When I Fall in Love” and “The Godfather” theme, “Speak Softly, Love.” CD’s and cassette tapes at $15 and $10 respectively plus $2 shipping and handling, may be purchased by check, payable to American-Irish Support for Sick Children, and addressed to Flannelly Promotions Ltd. 515 Madison Ave., Suite 1120, New York, NY 10022, or by calling Jack Boyle, vice president of Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx, at (718) 920-1730. A double purchase offer of both the CD and cassette is also available for $25 with no shipping and handling charges.
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Meanwhile, Adrian is doing equally well in his own life, trimming down by 30 pounds and staying off the cigarettes (although his wife Aine quietly whispered that he has regained a few pounds). Cconsidering his accomplishments over the past year, I think the lad deserves a succulent steak and fries. Adrian Flannelly has proved himself to be a doer and a giver and a priceless asset to the Irish and Irish-American community. Proud and joyous about the release of “Ireland and Beyond” and its consequent benefit to sick children, he looks back on his domestic accident as a blessing in disguise. His success is inspirational and leaves me thinking about the screenplay I’ve been meaning to write. Who knows, a good bout of spring cleaning could be my answer.