Same look, new server

The Aporetic is back! At a new server. My university kicked me off the university server, which is probably good because there was sometimes political stuff and there might be more.

Your author has been going like gangbusters of a new book, on a topic that surprises him.

I’m writing a biography of Frances O’Neill, who left Ireland in 1867, at age 17; sailed around the world, was shipwrecked once on a guano island, herded sheep in the sierra foothills, taught school in rural Missouri, and ended up a cop in Chicago, in 1873. He was shot in the shoulder a couple weeks into the job. They never managed to remove the bullet.

He rose to Chief of Police by 1901. On the way he saw the Haymarket riot, the Pullman strike, and the Columbian exposition. He arrested Emma Goldman, the anarchist. Then let her go, because she was innocent.

He was obsessed with music, and as he walked the beat he heard people playing tunes from every county in Ireland. He began to collect them, and eventually in 1903 published O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. He published a few more books after that.

He’s often described as the “savior” of Irish folk music. He has a statue near his birthplace

It’s an interesting life but I’m not sure why I’m interested. Partly it’s immigration. We are supposed to hate immigrants. It’s hard to convey how degraded and oppressed the Irish were in the 19th century. A poverty stricken people, despised; truly a subaltern people. I look at the guys outside Home Depot, waiting for work, and I see my own Irish immigrant ancestors. I wanted to write about immigration.

Also the incongruity–doing police work, breaking the heads of strikers, while dreaming about folk music at the rural crossroads. What was it about Chicago life that made him want to collect tunes? Catalogue them?

I’m six chapters in of a projected seven and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m doing. If you google O’Neill you’ll find a fair amount, mostly the same stuff repeated. I hope I’ll be able to add something new

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