John is the Business

More Musings from Edmund Rice Week at the Cork Life Centre

John Connors 2

I’m at the train station at the entry/exit barriers doing that socially awkward dance. You know it, the one you do when you’re meeting someone off a train and you know what they look like but they couldn’t pick you out of a line-up.

John Connors must be the first person off the train-he looks shattered(he’s been up all night editing) but immediately envelopes me in a massive hug.

We manoeuvre the crazy laneway to our centre. John takes in the view, our portraits of the 1916 signatories, our new portraits of the Great Irish Women-‘it’s about f***ing time’ John says referring to women getting recognition.  There are lots of staff and students dotted around everywhere-John greets them all individually and asks everyone their name, he eats a bit of lunch and opts to clean up after himself. He takes the time to chat to the student who will host the Q & A-they talk not about John but about the young person’s role in a play we’ll stage at the Granary Theatre later this month.

At the end of a captivating Q & A where you could hear a pin drop I’m clock-watching-I’m tense about the time and getting John back to the station. He’s not. He says ‘We have time’ and poses for individual photos with each student.

I reflect on the day later and knock out a text to a mutual acquaintance-a documentary producer who has worked with John. I communicate what an amazing day we’ve had. Her response:

‘John is the business’

And that about sums it up…..

John is a storyteller. I have to be careful here not to get myself in trouble because in Cork that can mean a teller of tall tales. What I mean is that John can really tell a story…..

John answers each question thoughtfully through a series of stories and anecdotes. Stories of discrimination, bullying, tragedy, loss, rage but also of family & community, encouragement, success and striving to be the best. John speaks factually his stories peppered with ‘bad language’ , humour and a wicked turn of phrase. There’s no self-pity and there’s no ego either.

When asked for his advice about acting John says you need to ‘Not give a f***’ You need to think about the worst possible outcome-‘It could be sh** but who gives a f***’

It’s powerful advice in relation to powering through your fears and anxieties but to me it doesn’t necessarily represent John’s general world view.

John is reflective and has a quick mind, is gifted with words and stories and quite clearly cares about many things-family, his identity as a traveller, tradition, community and perhaps most of all saying what needs to be said.

In John’s IFTA acceptance speech he stated ‘….self-sabotage is my greatest quality’ My reflection is that John is principled and compelled to speak his mind irrespective of the outcomes for himself personally. There’s great strength and honour in that kind of sabotage.

John told us today that in the world of film he is called the ‘Cheese Grater’ because of his total intolerance for cheese. So I hope he won’t object to this little blog which communicates my genuine sentiments on what was a very special afternoon.

If you’re reading this John thank you and do call for that cup of tea the next time you’re in Cork.


Rachel Lucey

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