Belmont Patch's feature, "Meet Your Neighbors," is just that – discovering more about fellow residents or people who work in town and make the community a nice place to live.
John Curran of Belmont
Founder and producer of The Sound of Erin
Although he’s lived in the United States for the majority of his life, John Curran maintains the pace, attitudes and loves of a true Irish man.
Born in Waterville, County Kerry and raised in County Cork, Ireland, Jonn emigrated to this country in 1955 when he was just a teenager.
“I celebrated my sixteenth birthday in America,” said the Belmont resident who has lived in the town for some 40 years. “In Ireland, you are what your father is and my father was dead.”
In fact, he died when John was two months old and left his wife with four children to raise on her own. That was too much for her to afford, her son said, and explained he and his siblings would have been sent to orphanages had family members not come forward to take the children into their homes.
“When I was 16, I decided to come here and make a better life for myself,” John said.
Never far from Ireland
Belmont is a lovely community, John believes, where he met his wife, Kitty (Ryan) and they raised their four children: Sean who lives in New York City; Patricia who lives in Winthrop; Deirdre who lives in Sudbury; and Maura who lives in Belmont. The Currans have seven grandchildren, two of whom live in Belmont.
“This is a wonderful town with great amenities and an excellent school system that our four children attended and two of our grandchildren are currently in,” said John. “America has been good to all of us.”
Yet he remains attached to all things Irish including the way those who live on the island view life.
“America is much faster and there’s a degree of pressure,” John said about the intensity of life and work here in the US. “Irish people are more laid back and not as emphatic about gaining wealth.”
John said his countrymen are not as concerned with "achieving material things as they are with enjoying themselves and having fun.”
The sounds and joy of Celtic music
Perhaps the strongest tie John maintains with his ancestral roots is Irish music.
Four decades ago, he founded The Sound of Erin Radio that he hosted as a part-time job while working in sales for a Boston radio station. The weekly radio show -- which can now be heard 24 hours, seven days a week via thesoundofrinradio.com – features traditional Irish music, interviews, book reviews and discussions with a variety of guests.
“It was very successful and, with the advancement of technology, we changed from radio to the Internet and the program continued to grow,” John said.
“We have close to one million listeners in more than 85 countries,” he said. “It’s the longest running Irish-American music program in the world and has never been off the air.”
About 10 months ago, John brought the program to the Belmont Media Center where his 30-minute show airs every Friday from 11 a.m. to noon and is then repeated several other times during the week.
As a volunteer offering his expertise to the town's community station, John has had to build his own technical crew with whom he selects the music.
“I’m the salesman and the on-air talent,” he said. “It’s good to have four of us with different areas of expertise.”
John has a studio in his home and said he works long hours on the show.
“Busy hands are happy hands and I have the happiest hands in Belmont,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Immersed in Irish American community
In addition to the radio show, John is a member of a large number of local and national Irish and Irish-American clubs and has participated in several fraternal organizations in Belmont over the years.
“Everything I do is related to the Irish-American community,” he said. “My first love is my family; my second is the Irish Celtic community.”
The luck of the Irish
It was just happenstance that John met a woman from his mother country, right here in Belmont.
When he first moved to the US, John lived with his aunt in town who told him he had to have a trade.
“That’s very Irish,” he explained. “For us, security can be more reliable than higher-paying short-term jobs.”
So he was studying electricity and house wiring at Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge and one day met a young lady on the subway who was studying secretarial work in Boston.
That was Kitty who came to this country from Ballinagar County, Roscommon.
In addition to being his life-long partner, Kitty has allowed John to spend the time he wants with his radio work and community involvement.
“I have been immersed in Irish music ever since I came to America,” John said. Kitty accommodated his busy schedule and his children seemed to grow up quite well without a tremendous amount of supervision.
“If I didn’t have the family I do that has allowed me to go out nine nights a week, I couldn’t have done it," John said.