An O’Malley Jamboree

The entire O’Malley family, minus only a few members (and we missed them) basically commandeered an inn in the woods in New Hampshire this last weekend. We were the only guests there. There were over 40 of us. Aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, boyfriends, second cousins. We were so out in the middle of nowhere that at night you could see the glimmering arm of the Milky Way above us. We took up the entire dining room at mealtimes. We hiked. We threw a football around. We sat around the campfire talking and singing (always singing). It felt like every single person had brought some kind of musical instrument. At one point I glanced around and my niece Lucy was holding a triangle. A triangle. Someone had brought a triangle! Along with all the laughter, all the conversation, and also a couple of celebrations (my sister Jean’s birthday, and a presentation to cousin Mike of a watercolor Mum had down of the whole family – rendering all of us as Fisher Price little people), we sang. We sang the entire weekend. We have a musical family. Songwriters, performers, a classical guitarist, singers. It was a beautiful experience. We are all still high from it.

Cousin Liam and sister Siobhan leading the entire family in a sing-along of “Hey, Jude”. I had a moment while it was happening where I thought, “Okay. Life literally does not get any better than this.”

Aunt Regina and cousin Liam

Brighid and cousin Grace, playing accompaniment

Brothers Mike and Liam jamming out to “Rocky Raccoon”, one of the main themes of the weekend

As Liam and Siobhan were leading us in song, suddenly from the other room came my cousin Marianne’s eldest, a teenager, wielding an electric guitar. Where the heck did that come from??

Siobhan playing her song “Nothing In Particular to a rapt audience. It was so cool.

Cousin Matt is a classical guitarist. I have never heard him play. I think that was the case for a lot of us there. He played three songs for us, and it was riveting. The applause was like thunder. Love.

Again, the brothers, my cousins Liam and Mike, working on “Rocky Raccoon”, with a couple of diversions into “King of the Road”

Cousin Tim recorded the whole thing. Someone would start playing a guitar and singing, and you would see Tim surreptitiously put on the headphones and hold the mike up.

We had been asking Regina to sing. Regina is a soprano of the highest order. She is an actress, and many of us who have also gone into that field remember how much her career influenced us, as in: “Oh. This is a valid job that you can have.” There was no mystique to it. Just hard work. She’s been on Broadway, she’s done everything. She was basically refusing to do a solo during our jamboree. Okay, fine. Cousin Liam, who was our maestro, started “I Will Survive”, and the whole room went apeshit. To see my uncle Tom, grey-haired and manly, bellowing, “But I spent oh so many nights thinkin’ how you did me wrong, and I grew STRONG” made me so happy I can’t even tell you. As the song was reaching its climax, suddenly Regina stepped forward (I was sitting below her on the couch with her daughter, my cousin Emma), and blasted us with a long high note that felt like it went on forever and still makes me laugh when I think about it. This photo is by Emma. We were crying with laughter.

From inside the inn, glancing outside. Cousin Matt playing guitar.

Auntie Gina dancing to the guitar-playing of her nephew, Matt

Mum playing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. I thought my heart would explode.

When people say to me, as they often do, “You have the best family”, I can tell you one thing: I don’t argue.

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17 Responses to An O’Malley Jamboree

  1. Mitchell Fain says:


  2. That picture of Regina is still making me laugh, too! Great pictures, Sheila!

  3. Ann says:

    Love this! My family isn’t this big or this fun – so thanks for letting me vicariously live through yours!

    -Ann, a friend of Kerry’s

  4. jennchez says:

    It looks like a total complete blast. What a blessing to have such a large, loving family. I love that there is a guitar in almost every picture.

  5. Dan says:

    Thank you for sharing – what a lovely, unruly-Irish looking clan!

  6. tracey says:

    Sighhhhhhhhhh ……. so so wonderful, Sheila. The love just leaps out of these photos.

    (And frankly, I need to see that watercolor.)

  7. Betsy says:

    Oooh – I wanted to see the picture too! I LOVE it!!! What a crazy, zany wonderful idea!!

  8. Kelly Troy says:

    Sheila!!! The pics= your words=tears!!! Wow do I love the O’Malleys!! I want to hear your Mom sing! I want to hear Regina hit that note! We need sound clips too!! Maybe we could plan a Sullivan get away like this one!! Looks like magic!!

    • sheila says:

      Kelly – the Sullys should totally do something like this. I don’t think I’ve ever spent three straight days in the presence of my entire extended family. To some people that would be a nightmare – but to us, obviously, it was a great joy and the same would be true of the Sullivan side. We are so lucky!!


  9. Saint Russell says:

    From looking at the pics I think where you come to New Hampshire is not far from where I live, maybe a few towns over. A couple times I’ve seen people out in public and wondered “Are those O’Malleys?” just from what they looked like! Maybe next time I’ll be brave & ask!

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