Story by Rosie Ledezma.
On Saturday, June 27th, Sean O’Meara was presented with an appreciation award on behalf of the local Irish and Celtic community. The surprise ceremony was a part of the monthly “ceili” or dance held at the Deutsches Haus in New Orleans. They kicked off the festivities with traditional Irish folk music accompanied by dancing and - what else? - beer.
The award was presented by the New Basin Canal branch of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the international society for the preservation of Irish culture. Sean’s on-air predecessor, Richie Stafford, was also honored at the “ceili” organized by Neil Reid of Comhaltas. Stafford was the Irish and Celtic communities’ voice for eleven years as the host of the program “Music in the Glen” before Sean took over. Twelve years ago, Stafford handed the reins over to Sean after deciding to take a trip back home to Ireland. A two-month substitute gig quickly turned into a permanent position for Sean when Richie made the decision to stay in Ireland. O’Meara hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since.
Sean has volunteered at WWOZ for almost 12 years and is still going strong. His passion for Celtic music can be heard on his show every Saturday morning. He takes time out of his busy profession as a research chef to prepare a diverse program encompassing the Irish, Scottish, and Celtic traditions. His role in the local Irish community remains vital, especially after Katrina. He hopped around the country after the storm and ended up in California with his brother, eventually making his way back to New Orleans. While the station was broadcasting remotely out of Baton Rouge, it took six months for Sean to get back on the air. During that time, the Irish community felt a loss. When O’Meara finally returned to the airwaves, he found a new sense of enjoyment and instilled a sense of continuity to his listeners. His show, beloved by many, was and will continue to be a symbol of hope in New Orleans. Sean’s return to the air provided part of the much-needed impetus to rebuild in the post-Katrina landscape.
The Irish and Celtic communities thrive on knowing that the city of New Orleans will continue to enjoy their music and traditions. So here’s to Sean O’Meara: a great man, an awesome show host, and an important figure in these cultural communities.