In 2011, the October Seis came back to Athy and it was a brilliant success. There were of course O'Neill's flying over from as far as New York and England to have a great weekend and remember Joe O'Neill, who was head of the local orchestra in the town for many years and the father and grandfather of the O'Neills, and also remember the matriarch of the family and dearly beloved member of the local community, Mary O'Neill (Nanny May), who passed away is the preceding weeks of the Seis. Although the O'Neill's missed her dearly, it was decided that the Seis would go ahead in her honour.
The focus of the weekend is to have a great time and get together, but the October Seis also raises money for a local charity in the town of where the Seis is hosted. This year, the charity was St. Vincents Hospital for the elderly in Athy, which is held in very high esteem within the local community.
The first night of this year’s Seis took place in the Clanard Court Hotel. The music began with the October Seis Band, which consisted of Kevin, Martin, Maureen, Sean and Jamie O’Neill, along with family friend John Dooley. They were followed by a number of acts including Spencer Hewitt, Delton Ramblers, McDara, The Tuesday Night Gang and Christine and Andy Holt, who are relatives of the O'Neill's from Manchester and also made their October Seis debut this year. Also present were Deputy Jack Wall TD and Cathaoirleach of Athy Town Council Richard Daly, who both gave speeches on the night and officially commenced The O'Neill's October Seis 2011. Chris McHugh from Tewkesbury then donated 300 euro to the October Seis after he ran a half marathon for the event. On sale were this year’s t-shirts, raffle tickets for the wooden horse, which took place on Saturday night, and Kevin’s album No Guarantees, which launched the week previous. The night was brought to a close in the early hours with the crowd up on their feet, singing and dancing to the music of the October Seis Band, with a few extras!
The Saturday night of the October Seis weekend was held in the Carlton Abbey. This was the main event of the weekend and the night the beautiful rocking horse was raffled off. The night began with the October Seis Band perfroming a few songs. They were followed by Gloucestershire based celtic fusion group The Roving Crows, who were on a hectic tour of Ireland at the time. After they finished their set, a number of musicians who were in attendance joined in on a traditional Irish céile. After this, the Next Generation performed a few songs, such as "Eight Days a Week" by The Beatles and Cee Lo Green's "Forget You". The was followed by the eagerly awaited raffle and up for grabs was the handmade wooden Rocking Horse which was kindly donated by Wheatfield Prison. The raffle had raised about €2500 on ticket sales alone, so there were many hopefuls waiting to find out if they had won. The winner was local photographer and family friend Noel Kelly, who kindly donated his prize to a Newbridge school for children with learning disabilities. Once the raffle was finished, the music restarted again and this time it was Spencer and Andy from Manchester who performed. Up next was Sean, Ellen and John O'Neill from New York and then St. Vincent's very own Margaret, who was joined by a few back-up singers (never guess who). The acts then came thick and fast with Andy and Christine Holt, who were joined on stage by their son Anton, playing a few numbers, followed by comedian Stephen King. It was now time for The Roving Crows to perform for their second time and the night was brought to a close with the October Seis Band singing all manner of songs, being joined onstage by many other O'Neill family members and members of the other acts who had peformed that evening.
On the Sunday afternoon, a cememrotive mass was held for May (Nanny May) in the church at St. Vincent's Hospital. After the mass, O'Neill's and friends entertained the residents of the hospital with music and dancing. While the October Seis Band went around the wards performing, Brian O'Neill and his band of musicians held a session in the church, which the residents thoroughly enjoyed. Once the Band had finished doing their rounds of the wards, they all gathered in the church to give the residents a show with other O'Neill's, Dooley's, Wall's, Myles', Crosson's and O'Kelly's dancing up and down the aisle. This was then followed by Sean and Ellen O'Neill, who performed a few songs, and Paul and Caitlin of The Roving Crows playing a few numbers from their large set. Like every other event of the weekend so far, it was The October Seis Band, joined by a residant with an accordian in tow, who returned to the stage to finish off the music.
The final night of this year’s Seis took place in Athy’s C.I. Bar. The music kicked off at about 9 o'clock with the October Seis Band, who played for about a half an hour. The Sunday night was aimed at the Next Generation of the October Seis so some of the acts that followed performed for their first time on the weekend. This included Eoin Mannion, Mickey Joe Wall, Sean Sourke and The Crossons of Cavan, who made their full debut this year. From the older generation there was McDara, Tewkesbury O's (Martin and Ciara O'Neill) and Kevin O’Neill, who performed some music from his recently launched album No Guarantees. The craic was mighty and by the final act, everyone was up on their feet, ready to give it socks. The night was brought to a close with some speeches from this year’s organiser Kevin and his two brother’s Sean and Martin, before an encore from Naas band tryFi, which included Kevin’s son Kevin óg and John Dooley’s son Brian.
This year's October Seis was a complete success! Fun was had by all and over €6000 was raised for St. Vincents Hospital. This was all due to the hard work of many people but in particular this year's organiser, Kevin O'Neill, who we owe a big thank you to. We would like to thank all who attended as it would have not been the same without you.
By Jack and Kev O'Neill