Just a few tickets remain for an upcoming concert with Green Road hosted by the Eugene O'Neill Foundation that aims to celebrate Danville's partnership with friendship city New Ross, Ireland, as well as highlighting the famous playwright's often overlooked Irish heritage.
Foundation president Dan McGovern said that the tour and upcoming show on March 10 -- ahead of St. Patrick's Day -- were the product of the relationship the foundation had long worked on establishing between Danville and New Ross, O'Neill's birthplace.
"Eugene O'Neill once wrote ... that the one thing that most people didn't know about him was that he was Irish, and it was probably the most important thing about his character," McGovern said.
With O'Neill's father having been among the wave of Irish immigrants who fled to the United States in the wake of the Potato Famine, as well as providing his son a window into the world of theater after their arrival here, it should be no surprise that the connection was a strong one for the mid-century playwright, who ultimately found his way to Danville.
"When he was a 5-year-old, the entire family came over to the United States, and they were in dire poverty in the United States, as well as in Ireland, because Edmond, James' father was a farmer and they really had no trade he could practice in the United States," McGovern said. "So Edmond, the father, went back to Ireland and the family was in even more dire poverty."
Nonetheless, McGovern said, James O'Neill would go on to be a renowned Shakespearean actor, ultimately becoming wealthy from the thousands of shows produced by his own theater company.
With this insight into O'Neill's roots in mind, McGovern said that the foundation's goal has been to highlight and foster a connection between the continued performance and appreciation of O'Neill's work at the Tao House and his Irish roots.
"We have the festival each year, although we were dark one year during the COVID period, and rising out of that culture of partnership the towns of Danville and New Ross became official Friendship City partners," McGovern said.
The upcoming concert is a result of this relationship, McGovern said, with Danville Town Councilmember Newell Arnerich being at the forefront of efforts to bring Green Road to the town after seeing them perform during a visit to New Ross last year during the festival.
"After that concert he came to Sean (Reidy) and me and said 'we have got to bring Green Road to Danville," McGovern said. "So that was the kernel of the thought to have the first American tour of the band Green Road, and so they will be performing throughout that weekend in the Bay Area."
Tickets are running low for Green Road's first show of the tour in Danville, with the band heading to San Francisco for St. Patrick's Day festivities the following day, then to Savannah, Ga. and the East Coast.
The band will be joined by Irish opera singer Clodagh Kinsetta, who has made a name for as an ambassador for Irish heritage inside and outside of her home country, with tours throughout Europe and previous shows in the United States.
Green Road and Kinsetta are set to take the stage at the Village Theatre at 233 Front St. in Danville on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
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