Sun, Mar

Festival Legends: Songs and Stories

Biography and Memoirs



The happiest times in my life are those spent around festivals, especially the afters parties. I have had the opportunity to get to know these wonderful men and women as people, not as performers. Seeing these amazing and genuine people, up close and off camera, has been the inspiration for writing this book. When I tried to find out more information about them, where they came from, in the sense of what made them who they are, beyond just the town they were born in, there was so little information available. I decided to change that.

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Derek McCormack’s sudden passing only reemphasized the need for me to get these wonderful stories, filled with humor, jaw-dropping accomplishments and deep love for the Irish heritage, from those who know it best, the performers themselves. I have strived to eliminate any inaccuracies, myths, false stories and general lack of hard information about each of these legends and present it in their own words. I hope you will enjoy finding out their stories as much as I have.

Festival Legends offers an entertaining but historically accurate look at these iconic entertainers with detailed, behind-the-scenes information on the journeys, backgrounds, inspirations, people and stories in the rise of these great talents to the top of their field, and a place in the indelibly linked American and Irish histories. This capturing of these entertaining and surprising stories as well as correcting the myths and misinformation that seems to surround these performers, has been the driving passion behind this book.


A business manager, consultant and writer by trade, the author has twenty four years experience as Assistant Director of Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Festival. A first generation Irish American whose father is Founder and Director of the festival and hails from County Roscommon, Ireland; John continues his father’s legacy, love of the Irish heritage and vision for the festival. With nine stages, twenty eight bands, an extensive and nationally recognized cultural hall and numerous other attractions, the festival is recognized as on of the very best in the United States.

This love of the Irish heritage and dedication to producing an authentic cultural event has earned the respect and trust of the performers featured in Festival Legends: Songs & Stories, and an unmatched access to them and their stories.

John continues to write articles, profiles and reviews for travel, heritage and special interest publications such as the Irish American Post, where he has a byline. He also writes poetry centered on the themes of love, loss and glory. He has extensive experience in dealing with health issues related to Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis, hearing loss and back pain.

Founder and Chairman of Eire Og (Young Ireland) ; John was Editor and sole writer for the monthly special interest publication for the group, which has over 4,500 members, for more than two years. The publication features profiles, interviews, book and event reviews, historical items of interest and local and national special events. Active in the Irish community in Cleveland and with the Festival Organizers Convention, where he was a featured speaker in 2005 and 2006, John has been interviewed on numerous radio and television programs and in print media. He developed, wrote and produced, “The Legacy Project,” a twenty-six minute video for the United States Library of Congress highlighting Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Festival as “an event of cultural significance,” featured dozens of interviews with festival organizers, performers and volunteers.

The author has taught extensively in the areas of Leadership, Coaching and Behavior Based Interviewing as well as Microsoft Word and Excel, for audiences ranging from one to three thousand. He is a graduate of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School and the University of Dayton, where he majored in Business Management and Communications.

John enjoys reading, traveling, attending cultural events and festivals and spending time with his seventeen nieces and nephews.  He lives in the Westpark neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.