The History Behind Octoberseis
Joe O’Neill was acknowledged as one of the most versatile and accomplished musicians of his day. He brought his particular brand of music to almost every dance venue in Ireland from the early 1940’s to the 1960’s. At its peak the Stardust Orchestra competed with the leading big bands of the day i.e. Mick Delahunty and Maurice Mulcahy as headline acts around the country.
Joe was also an accomplished music teacher and was founder and music director of St. Josephs Boys Band and subsequently founded the CBS Brass and Reed Orchestra which is still going strong today.
Generations of Athy children learned the craft from Joe and grey haired adults now owe their musical talent to Joe’s patient and careful tuition.
As a multi-instrumentalist Joe was adept on piano, saxophone and bagpipes but his favourite form of musical expression was with the accordion.
Amidst all of the above Joe and his wife, May, Managed to rear a big family and as can be imagined almost all of them play musical instruments.
Joe passed away in 1989 but his family still kept up the tradition of music and although they are spread far and wide around the globe, when they meet its music, music, music.
A number of years ago the O’Neill’s decided that some organisation or charity should benefit from this musical entertainment.
As Joe O’Neill was born in October (10th) it was agreed that October should be the time of year and this also fitted in with the school break everywhere. Thus Octoberseis was born. Our first Octoberseis was held in Naas, Co. Kildare, where Joe’s two sons Kevin and Anthony live. That was in 2005 where all funds raised went to the care of the elderly. Since then:
- 2006 - Cavan (Maureen)
- 2007 - Tewkesbury, U.K. (Martin)
- 2008 - New York, U.S.A (Seán)
- 2009 - Naas, Co. Kildare (John Dooley, family friend)
- 2010 - Westport, Co. Mayo (Jamie, Grandson)
- 2011 - Athy, Co. Kildare (Kevin)
- 2012 - Cavan (Maureen)
- 2013 - Tewkesbury, U.K. (Martin)
- 2014 - Naas, Co. Kildare (John Dooley, family friend)
- 2015 - New York, U.S.A (Seán)
Yes, this occasion has now become a fixed event in the O’Neill calendar and will remain so as Joe’s grandchildren have now taken it to their hearts and become a regular feature of ‘The Octoberseis’ as have close family friends such as John Dooley etc. So while the O’Neill family meet and play music and remember Joe O’Neill the real winners are the local charities which benefit from funds raised in his memory.