2. Tom O'Malley
Tom O’Malley (1932-2021), was born in Doughmakeon, near Luisburgh, Co. Mayo, son of Anthony and Jane O’Malley (nee Burke). In 1950 he immigrated to Chicago at the early age of seventeen, along with his sister Bridget age fifteen, where he began to play Irish music (accordion) in earnest. He was a member of the IMA and was one of the main organizers of the annual Fleadheanna held in Chicago under the auspices of the IMA from 1964 – 1969.
Over the ten years or so before his passing in 2021, Tom was an incredible resource in helping me build-up a picture of the life of an emigrant Irish musician in Chicago after WW2. When he got to know of my interest in storytelling and the Seanchai in Ireland, Tom would occasionally include a story he wished to tell me during my many visits to his home. His stories were either of his early days in Co. Mayo (e.g. My First Bicycle, Memories of Christmas) or of his personal thoughts on such subjects as The Sea or The Night Sky.
I have now compiled the recordings of these stories and on listening back through them I feel not only was Tom a wonderful storyteller but also cogitabund, delivering his stories and thoughts in a very clear, easy-to-listen manner. As I listen, the words of Lisa O’Neill’s song come to me:
To me you’re wealthy in your wisdom
And generous as they come,
I won’t forget this in a hurry
I won’t forget you made me strong
Because of the sheer number of stories, I have divided them into series and will upload one series at a time over the coming months.
Series 1 - Tom’s Family History: