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(ARRANGED BY Selena O'Neill)
Description Francis O'Neill(1848-1936) was an irish-born American Police Officer and collector of Irish traditional music.
O'Neill was born in Tralibane, near Bantry,County Cork. At an early age he heard the music of local musicians, among them Peter Hagarty, Cormac Murphy and Timothy Dowling. At the age of 16, he became a cabin boy on an English merchant vessel. On a voyage to New York, he met Anna Rogers, a young emigrant whom he later married in Bloomington Illinois. The O'Neills moved to Chicago, and in 1873 O'Neill became a Chicago Policeman. He rose through the ranks quickly, eventually serving as the Chief of Police from 1901 to 1905. He had the rare distinction, in a time when political "pull" counted for more than competence, of being re-appointed twice to the position by two different mayors.
During his as chief, O'Neill recruited many traditional Irish musicians into the police force, including Patrick O'Mahony, James O'Neill, Bernard Delaney, Patsy Touhey, John McFadden and, James Early. He also collected tunes from a wide variety of printed sources.
O'Neill retired from the police force in 1905. O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903), containing 1,850 pieces of music is one the music he had collected and published.
Francis O’Neill is revered today, 65 years after his death, because at a critical time for Irish culture, his books helped to keep Ireland’s music alive. Noel Rice, President of the Academy of Irish Music, has taught O’Neill’s music to his students for the past 25 years.