Written by Howard Blankman Friday, 15 March 2013 00:00
“On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.” So said John J. O’Neil III to me yesterday. Why was he talking to me? Well, to begin at the beginning, not too long ago I read in the Port Washington News (where else?) that John J. the Third, had been honored at a fancy dinner by the John Michael Marino Lodge 1389 Order of the Sons of Italy in America (SOIA). It seems that he had been a two-term president of that civic-minded, charitable organization. Presently, O’Neil is president of the Sons of Italy Foundation and is active with the national organization. That got me thinking. With all due respect, how does a man whose family roots are in Ireland get so involved with a group whose members’ family roots are in Italy? “When he has a wife whose maiden name is Principe,” said O’Neil without missing a beat.
Although his background is in graphics design, illustration and advertising, O’Neil’s real passion is going to the dogs – that is, painting dogs, which he does expertly and on commission. Using acrylics, O’Neil he is equally adept at painting less lively subjects. His painting of a Nantucket waterfront is so warm and colorful it can bring on a sudden urge to hop on the next plane for Nantucket. “When I paint, I turn off the world,” says O’Neil.
Is there a Leprechaun in Port Washington? I think so. And you can find him sometimes at one of my favorite watering holes, Sullivan’s Quay. When he’s there, he’s tending bar or dispensing warm words of welcome to returnees and newcomers alike. His speech is a dead giveaway. No doubt about it; he’s from the old sod. “I’m from Kells, County of Heath,” he admits, “but I grew up in Middleton, County Cork. That’s the home of the Irish whiskey distilleries.” He says his name is Victor Cunneen. (Doesn’t sound like the name of a leprechaun.) “I came to America in 1986,” said he.” Why? “I wanted to see the place and play their music,” he replied. Aha, I got him, I thought, so I asked him about the instrument he used. (Don’t leprechauns play harps?) “A guitar,” he said, “and I sing.” Cunneen said he got the idea in 1983 while on business in Cairo. “The band was playing Irish songs, so I got out my guitar and joined in. It was a most interesting engagement.” Since then, when he’s not doing his thing at Sullivan’s Quay, Cunneen morphs into an Irish balladeer. He and his guitar have appeared together in 42 states of the Union and Canada. In the weeks including, before, and after St. Patrick’s Day, Cunneen says, “I’m shut out all weeks. I’ll be entertaining at the Irish-Americans in Government luncheon and later I’ll be off to Myrtle Beach for an engagement.” He’s been living this double life for 20 years. When does he plan to stop? “The only time I’ll stop is when I’m 12 feet down and somebody is standing on my grave,” Cunneen replied. (I still think he’s a leprechaun.)
Howard Blankman is a Public Relations Society of America Fellow, longest current member of the Dramatists Guild of America, former CEO of The Blankman Group and Nassau County Planning Commission Chairman.
Saturday, 18 May 2013 00:00
Joan Hutchinson’s Five J’s Jewelers will be closing its doors after 34 years in town. Currently at 155 Main Street (located in Mini Mall Shops), Five J’s has been located in different spots around Port such as the Soundview shopping center and four different Main Street locations. Five J’s has lost its lease, but will be here through the end of August. The store will be liquidating inventory of jewelry. Hutchinson’s newest venture will include a web-based business from her home, where she will continue to provide her customers with quality merchandise at wholesale prices. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516-567-4142.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Baz Luhrmann, the internationally acclaimed writer, producer and director of the new 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, captivated the invitation-only audience at the Long Island premier of the film last Wednesday night at Soundview Cinemas.
“It’s touching for me to be here in Port Washington,” said Luhrmann, a native Australian. “I grew up in a small town where my father had a cinema for a short time. It’s like inviting people into your lounge room to sit in the dark and experience something together.” Luhrmann took notice of all the care that went into refurbishing the Soundview Theater, telling the guests that there really is so much buzz out there about the reopening.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
The fact that Port Washington Youth Activities (PYA) is celebrating its 50th year of working with area boys and girls is quite an accomplishment. Ron Henderson, its executive director for the past 20 years, also has a long history with PYA’s Lions Field that extends all the way back to 1958.
“I played in the first games ever held at the field back then when it was the Port Washington Little League,” said Henderson. “That was before the field was renovated.” The renovation, which began in 1999 and forced the PYA to relocate for two years from its Glen Lane site, now features four Little League fields and one major league field, all on pesticide-free, natural grass. During the fall, the fields are converted for lacrosse and football programs.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
This is the season of anticipation. Boats are being prepared for launch, yacht clubs are going into commission all up and down Long Island Sound, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. The beginning of an active boating season on Manhasset Bay and LI Sound is just weeks away. Before the season begins, it might be a good idea to think about boat safety. Whether you are a skipper or crew, racing or out for a nice leisurely afternoon, be it sail or motor, safety should be your first priority.
An online sailing newsletter, Sail-World.com recently published some good information on this very topic. It is from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. This is what Foundation suggests: It takes just six minutes to brief your new guests on board your boat for a day of sailing and it could save a life and/or your boat. Below is a six-minute briefing that all of us should practice to make sure the sail is fun and relaxed and safe.