Jamie O’Reilly’s Roots Ireland 2022 project

“The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have.”

Henry James

The project updates appear here. To read about the practical elements, donations, gigs, etc. please go to the blog page.

Jamie’s January 2022 Update coming soon

Jamie’s October Update

Read the Blog and newsletter here:

Roots in Ireland video

Five months into the Roots in Ireland project, in late September I released the video I made with filmmaker Jeffrey Bivens, with positive response. This short video relates how I arrived at the Roots in Ireland project after a tough year of loss, and offers a glimpse of the journey that brought me here as a woman and artist.

View the video here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/videos/jamie-oreilly-roots-in-ireland-a-video-a-musical-journey/

Poster design by Nia O’Reilly Amandes

This October, I’m focusing on the Dublin Salon preview we’re presenting at Chief O’Neill’s Pub in early November. I’m reading, researching and revisiting the In Old Chicago program I performed in 2019, adding more stories of Dottie, Mame, Tex, Nell and Uncle Tuck, with snippets from memoirs of Chicago from the turn of the 20th century into the outbreak of WWI and the early 20s: the newspapers, the neighborhoods, the union halls, activism, and the arts. Joining me will be my older brother Christopher O’Reilly and Judi Cogan Heikes as Readers, and John Erickson at the piano. Whereas my 2019 version of In Old Chicago focused on immigrants, the Irish among them, the “Dublin Salon” preview offers more Irish songs and poetry.

This Concert Salon format is a journey in song, interspersed with readings. My classic signature ballads, parlor songs, soaring hymns, and singalongs will be featured, as well as beloved songs written by my late musical partner Michael Smith.

I’m debuting Sanctuary City, a powerful new anthem to Chicago, (casting the city as a woman) written by Anne Hills and Al Power, which will close the first set.

Chicago’s connection to the Celtic Revival, initiated here by the 1893 World Columbian Exposition and the Irish Literary Renaissance, is a fascinating time, with international demand for Irish Home Rule and the emergence of many Irish artists on the world stage. Among them: the über gifted Yeats family, provocative Lady Gregory, and masterful James Joyce, (whose seminal novel Ulysses we will be celebrating in Dublin next June). As the Industrial Revolution took hold, the eight-hour day was furiously fought-for, and a heretofore unseen number of immigrants arrived, the humanities and intellectualism were alive and thriving in Chicago.

The new Art Institute of Chicago acquired its masterpieces, grand museums were built, and lakefront parks were created. My ancestors were feisty activists, writers and artists. Tex and Tuck wrote for newspapers (there were dozens); Tuck and Nell contributed to poetry columns (Tribune’s Line-o-Type among them). Nell attended the School of the Art Institute. Tex fought in foreign wars. My aunts Mame and Dottie taught in public schools. They participated in the Hobo College (offering classes to migratory workers), and Bughouse Square (with its soapboxers). They joined the Dil Pickle Club (spelled that way, a social club for arts, crafts, literature, and science), shared rituals with the Winnebago Tribe, attended Socialist gatherings, and organized for the Chicago Federation of Labor, and the Chicago Federation of Teachers as Chicago became a union town.

And they all sang hosting salons where music, poetry, politics and philosophy merged in spirited gatherings. These traditions and events inspired Roots Salon, which I established in 1993.

(See the blog on Aunt Mame’s White Fire letter. https://www.jamieoreilly.com/songnotes-mames-white-fire-she-would-sing-the-kerry-dances/)

“Canopied with trees screened by thick bushes, retired from the street,
Full of odd corners, with odd people as its favored guests;
Spouting poetry and music and youthful philosophy
From all its old pores till the gray hours of the morning;
Harboring many tellers of true but unbelievable stories of the four heavens and the four hells. A delightful, unforgettable house it was.”

Irwin St. John Tucker, memoir
Jamie in the Rokies, summer 2021

Note from Jamie
Sept update

I am four months into this project. Updates are on my monthly newsletters and blog. All shows this summer were sold out and lovely. The next step is finishing a short film about me and the background on the Roots in Ireland Project. Then an updated songlist for the In Old Chicago show Oct 2, with a new Chicago song by Anne Hills and Al Power. There is a fundraiser and silent auction in Nov at Chief O’Neill’s Pub.

Read more below about how you can contribute!

Looking for my roots. Vintage poster reimagined.

Support Jamie O’Reilly Roots Ireland 2022 Project. Updates and background are on Jamie’s blog. View Donor page: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/roots-in-ireland-project-donor-page/

This beloved singer has seen her share of loss this pandemic year. Help Jamie get back to work and make this a trip of a lifetime.
Be a supporter! Host a show! Come out and hear her.

“Is there some kind of artistic gene?

-Rick Kogan, WGN Radio, Chicago Tribune

Radio interview. Listen to this archived program with Rick Kogan, WGN After Hours radio interview.

“We’re seeing a necessity of a place to go when your heart is aching or when your mind is exploding with the news. And that remains: family, friends and art.”

Jamie O’Reilly, on why we create

Read about the live concerts on the gig page

Jamie’s Rocky Road to Dublin

In summer of 2022, Singer and Writer Jamie O’Reilly will take the adventure of a lifetime, returning to Ireland after 40 years! The trip begins with her attending the XXVIII International James Joyce Symposium in Dublin, where her sister Scholar Bridget O’Reilly will be a presenter. From there Jamie heads west to the historic Skibbereen, south of Cork, where she will co-host The Roots Arts Gathering, a week-long arts festivals with talented family and friends. Read here about Skibbereen. https://www.skibbereen.ie/heritage-and-culture-in-skibbereen/

Listen to Jamie sing Love’s Old Sweet Song here:

Peruse this site under “recordings” to hear samples of Jamie’s work. 

Sign up! Support “Jamie’s Rocky Road to Dublin,” the Roots Ireland 2022 Project! Donor page:

The donor form looks like this and is found at the button/link below

Please click on pay button below with Paypal or credit card to make a donation. Zelle and checks are also accepted. (see sample form below)

About the Roots in Ireland Project
Jamie is planning to raise $15,000$20,000 to produce, promote and perform, and to research, prepare, create and edit photos, audio and video for a year-long cultural arts project. Engaging the services of formidable fellow creators: musicians, photographers, graphic designers and a videographer, Jamie will create live and digital content. As she further explores her Irish roots, and prepares to travel abroad, she will expand her role on a local level, as a celebrated Chicago artist, producer, Salonniere, and influencer, reflecting on new terrain in a post-pandemic world.

Donor Premiums
In an effort to build community and connect with artmakers, Jamie will offer donors to the project premiums generated by women owned businesses, and artisans: artwork, handwork, recordings, restaurant gift certificates, concert tickets, and more. Donors contributing $800 or more are invited to host a live concert in their home or public space.

2022 Travel to Ireland in June
Jamie will attend the James Joyce Conference in Dublin, hear her sister Bridget as a presenter, and report on it in her blog to fans back home.
After Dublin, she will head west and host a creative gathering of “the O’Reilly clan” in West Cork, where her über talented family will sing, read poetry, perform theater together, breathe in the good air, and investigate the historic area of Skibbereen. Then she heads to the Dingle Pennisula to complete the trip. Jamie will document the project, maintaining her online blog on her website, and posting on social media.

People interested in supporting the project are encouraged to contact Jamie, via email jamie@jamieoreilly.com, or by phone 773.203.7661.

About Jamie’s Irish connection

Jamie & mother Winifred , 1984 Orchestra Hall

Jamie’s Musical History
A performer of Irish folk and Celtic classical music in the Chicago area for over 45 years, Jamie has multiple recordings of Irish and Irish American music in her catalog. A graduate of DePaul University of Music, Jamie’s professional vocal debut was at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall in the John McCormick Centenary Concert. Her first solo album “I Know Where I’m Going” was recorded at WFMT Chicago in 1984, and was remastered and rereleased in 2015. 

Looking up

Musical/Theatrical Programs about Irish and Irish American history are among her specialties. Among the historical themes she’s presented are Irish mythology, poetry, drama, the famine and genocide, “the Troubles,” Irish American Vaudeville and Music Hall, the Irish Pavilion of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, the Chicago Irish immigrant experience, the history of the Illinois Michigan Canal.

Other Irish-influenced projects include Songs of the Kerry Madwoman, a collection of song settings of the late poet Patricia Monaghan’s Mis poems, with music by the late Michael Smith, (writer of The Dutchman). “Jamie O’Reilly & The Rogues: a Collection of Songs” is a popular CD by Jamie’s Irish five member. band. Recent projects are Songs of a Catholic Childhood (2011, also with Smith), and the current pre-pandemic piece In Old Chicago.

The rich and lively world of her Irish ancestors and the working immigrant experience, pre-WWI through WWII, provide the landscape for In Old Chicago. Read more about In Old Chicago here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/jamie-oreillys-in-old-chicago-reimagined/

About Bridget O’Reilly

Bridget Winifred O’Reilly is in her 4th year at UC Irvine working toward her PhD in English Literature.  Her dissertation will be on narrative theory and the Modernist novel.  She is a James Joyce scholar who has given papers on Joyce around the world, including Pasadena, London, Montreal, Antwerp, and Cork.  She is a member of the James Joyce Foundation, who meets every year on Bloomsday for a week-long conference.  In June 2021, Bridget presented her paper, “Bloom’s Narratology in Joyce’s Ulysses” at “Omniscientific Joyce: XXVII International James Joyce Symposium” in Trieste, Italy. (More.  https://joyce2021.org/ ) She will be a presenter at the James Joyce Symposium in Dublin in 2022, the 100th anniversary of his seminal work Ulysses.

Skibbereen in West Cork
Skibbereen in West Cork