Friday 22 March 2019

Musician Liam likes to saddle up for some down time

Sheila Fitzgerald

Everyone needs time out from the frantic pace of life, especially those who's work catapults them regularly onto the world stage, and musician Liam O'Connor, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the fastest fingers in the world, is no exception.

Liam's preferred therapy for winding down is showjumping and eventing, and The Corkman caught up with him and his horse, Parkmore Reeba, at Millstreet International Horse Show last weekend.

"Ever since I've been young I've loved horses. We always had horses at home in Newmarket. This is my hobby, I love showjumping and eventing," Liam said. 

His children, Saoirse, Oisín and Cillian, also share their dad's passion and joined him in Millstreet for the show.  Liam described the Green Glens as a 'world class venue'.

"The Duggan family have done wonders for the equestrian scene in Ireland. This is the best show in the country," he added.

While Liam is able to carve out increments of time for his hobby, it's back to the drawing board almost immediately as he continues to pursue what has been a stellar music career.

Starting off at home in Newmarket as a member of the O' Connor Family Band, little did he know he would play for audiences across the globe, selling out tours in Australia, Scandinavia, Italy and the USA. He has performed at major venues such as Slane Castle, the 3 Arena, MGM Grand Las Vegas, Radio City Music Hall, Sydney Opera House, Wembley Arena and at the World Expo in China.

He is the only Irish musician to be asked to play at the Ryder Cup twice and performed six times at the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Finals in Croke Park.  

One of the highlights of Liam's career was touring the world as part of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance Show for two and a half years. Another was recording the official GAA Anthem, 'Morning Dew', with broadcasting legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh. The piece subsequently topped the Irish charts for six weeks.

Numerous singles and albums have highlighted various musical genres in Liam's career over the years. 'Live at Ronnie Scott's' was recorded in 2013 at the most famous jazz club in the world, while a previous album in conjunction with the RTE Concert Orchestra was critically acclaimed. Liam has recently been working with Moya Brennan of Clannad and Brian Kennedy. He has also struck up a great friendship with Aslan frontman Christy Dignam.

"I teach and mentor the students at St. Brendan's College in Killarney, where my sons go to school, and I invited Christy to be my guest. We went on to do a few gigs together," Liam said.

The famous pair did a 'flash mob' in downtown Killarney a few weeks ago, and locals and tourists were thrilled with the impromptu performance. 

North Cork punters recently saw Liam in action when he performed at the Rickie Healy fundraiser at Kanturk Mart in March. 

His 'wind down time' at Millstreet Horse Show will be but a distant memory next week as he heads off to perform at Electric Picnic in Stradbally.

He and his band will be joined on stage by 20 students from St. Brendan's College, Killarney.

"Electric Picnic is great for different genres of music. It's brilliant for youngsters to see the work ethic behind the scenes and the intensity of what goes on at big concerts and how the music business works," Liam said.

Readers heading to Electric Picnic can catch Liam and his band performing on Friday, August 31 from 7pm - 11pm.