Frances and Anna around the time of their marriage
His home in Chicago, photographed in the mid 1960s, not long before it was demolished to make way for what is now Ronald McDonald House
In 1893 it was a short walk from this house to the World's Columbian Exposition, an immense world's fair celebrating 400 years since Columbus arrived in the New World. There were two competing "Irish Villages" set up for the fair: below is the Irish Village of Lady Aberdeen. The book describes how Irish Chicagoans attacked the Blarney castle when it flew the Union Jack
The second Irish village, run by Mrs. Alice Hart, also showcased Irish cottage industries and you could see "genuine Celts" hard at work weaving and carving in reproduction thatched cottages. The village featured a reproduction of Donegal castle, and there O'Neill heard and befriended the pipers Patsy Touhey and Torlough McSweeney. As the book describes, the experience had a powerful effect on his sense of Ireland and irish culture.
In addition to keeping scrapbooks, which his great granddaughter Mary Mooney Lesch has and is digitizing, O'Neill kept a lot souvenirs of events he had attended or at which he had served as judge, Below, from one of his multiple times as judge at a highland piper's contest
And from one of his two trips to the annual convention of Chief of Police
He belonged to Irish American societies and clubs: Below a medal from the "United Irish Societies" Meeting of 1902
He attended the 1897 Irish Fair, here advertised:
Held at "Battery D," an armory on the lakefront
And he kept a souvenir medal from the County Cork booth.
As described in the book, the fair included a giant "sod map? of Ireland and for a quarter, visitors could once again step on what was alleged to be the soil of their native county
But O'Neill avoided the more radical Irish societies and kept his interest in Irish music quiet until he was "outed" by the media early in his first term as chief. England regarded the Clan Na Gael, for example, as a terrorist organization, and Clan Na Gael members had been involved in a notorious murder in 1889. In this cartoon from 1895, the magazine Puck depicts the Irish freedom fighter Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa of the Clan Na Gael as an ape.
While the nativist, anti Irish and Anti Catholic journal America connected a love of Irish music to simian thuggishness.