New York Irish musician Richie O’Shea, a popular singer and bandleader in the area, passed away on Saturday from heart complications. He was days shy of his 74th birthday.
O’Shea was especially popular in Co. Cork circles, as his parents emigrated from the county. He was born in Brooklyn, and after finishing high school, he attended City College of New York for business and public relations.
He joined New York's workforce when he got a job with a major brokerage firm. During that time, he also joined many of Irish American organizations.
He always loved music and was a member of his local church choir. He later found his love for Irish music, a love his Cork-born parents shared and they always made music an integral part of their lives.
O’Shea first appeared on the bandstand with the renowned Mickey Carton’s Orchestra in Gaelic Park. After getting a taste of the Irish music experience and performing with many local Irish groups in the metropolitan area, he decided to form his own band called the Four Provinces.
After years of success he recorded his first album in 1972 called "These Are My Mountains" on the Avoca label, and it became an instant hit. This set the stage for him to continue his performances at dances, weddings, concerts and festivals.
In 1974, O’Shea decided to emigrate to Ireland and set up a business in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. He owned and operated a local public house, where he found the people friendly and jovial. He continued pursuing his musical endeavors at his place of business, which opened new doors for him. He became involved in local community affairs and performed for local dinner dances and variety shows.
In 1980, O’Shea returned to New York and was asked to join the Paddy Noonan Concert Series. He also recorded the number one hit “One Day at a Time.” He toured coast-to-coast for the next five years and that song became one of the most requested recordings on Irish American radio.
In 1985, he set out to form a new band of his own, with his longtime friend Frank Keegan. Together, they introduced many new ideas in the Irish entertainment field, such as Irish weekend getaways, cruises, tours to Ireland. They also recorded their first album together, "Shannagolden."
It was during this time that O’Shea decided to go into business importing Irish goods with an Irish import shop. After touring and working for over 10 years, he suffered a heart attack and needed open heart surgery. Owing to this, he took a break to recover and to set new goals for himself, his family and his career.
After O’Shea’s break he decided to start a new band and recorded another album titled "Only Our Rivers Run Free." This album features Michael O’Rourke, Jimmy Fracasi and Jimmy Walsh to name a few.
O’Shea officially retired from the music scene a few years after opening up another Irish Import business in 1995 in Stewart Manor, Long Island. During this time, he made many guest appearances and continued to support, promote and spread Irish culture throughout the Irish American Community.
O’Shea is survived by his loving wife, the former Bridget Carmody of Newport, Co. Tipperary, his children, Joseph, Bridget, Kathleen, Richard and Sean as well as 10 grandchildren, Brianna, Jimmy, Carly, Eileen, David, Aiden, Tommy, Shannon, Molly and Owen.