Manchester Children's Book Festival Reporters' Blog

Interview, research, review, write, publish

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Manchester Evening News top boss Eamonn O’Neal

Our official reporters were keen to find out more about what they knew of MEN Media managing editor Eamonn O’Neal’s background: his childhood in Wythenshawe, his time as a television presenter, a radio DJ and deputy head teacher. They  followed the trail of information which revealed that a children’s book called Twinkletoes was written by O’Neal’s mother and published when she was 85. They also listened intently while the book was read to them.

The 30-minute interview revealed O’Neal’s unusual talent of playing the piano accordion; his love of  Motown and traditional Irish music; his interest in script-writing and fishing trips with stepson, Emmerdale star Chris Bisson; how he enjoyed closing the door and silencing the noise of children when he was a head teacher – and his poor taste in jokes.

EAMONN O’Neal was embarrassed when he was on a radio show and, having been told about a 24-hour rail strike, he asked how long it would last.

He wants to be an eagle because he loved bird watching. When he was young he wanted to be a priest for a while, then an actor, then a writer and finally he just wanted to be old.

His scariest moment was when he was working on a car show and driving around the mountains in Spain when his brakes didn’t work. He managed to turn a corner and scratch his car to slow and luckily he survived – but his car didn’t.

He has had 32 dogs, one rabbit and a tortoise. One day he found his tortoise dead so he buried it but it wasn’t it was hibernating and he killed it.

He is very bad at telling jokes and told us one about “how long can you keep a turkey in a freezer” and you say “three months” then he’ll say “but I put one in the freezer yesterday and it’s dead today”. That is supposed to make people laugh.

The weirdest thing about him is he plays the piano accordion which I thought was pretty cool.

His mum was a reception teacher and she told stories to the children that she had written called Twinkeltoes. Eamonn told her to get them published but she didn’t so he did – and they are very good stories.   by Alisha

THE most unusual thing about Eamonn O’Neal is that he plays the piano accordion. Also, he liked being a head teacher because he could slam the door and have some peace and quiet. He did though love to see children working well together.

Eamonn just can’t help telling the most awful jokes. And once he saw a tortoise and, thinking it was dead, buried it then found it was only hibernating. When he dug it up it was dead and I bet he felt bad. He has since had 32 dogs, which is just incredible. He’s also a fan of birds and would, if he could, be an eagle.

His mum was astonished when she found out her books had been published by Eamonn.

Eamonn was once on a radio programme and lots of people would’ve been listening so I bet he was nervous but his scariest moment was when he was driving his car in the mountains and his brakes didn’t work – he scratched his car down the mountainside to make it stop.  by Alan

WHEN he was younger, Eamonn O’Neal would like to have been a priest. Then he wanted to be an actor. Then he wanted to be a writer. Then, eventually, he just wanted to get old. For now he is a managing editor at MEN Media and writing scripts.

If he could be any animal he would be an eagle. He finds this unusual because when his son was younger they used to go bird watching and his son loved to watch the birds but Eamonn didn’t. Now Eamonn likes to watch bird but his son doesn’t.

Eamonn’s favourite music is folk but his all time favourite is Motown.

In his opinion, the most inspiring person to him is his mum. He says “a lot of people would probably say that” but because his mum used to write stories and be so positive about things she was a big role model to him.  by Sana

 EAMONN O’Neal’s scariest moment was when he was presenting a car show and he was driving around a mountain when the brakes weren’t working. Luckily he managed to get around the corner and fortunately the car did brake – and he survived.

His most embarrassing moment was when he was on the radio and there was a news flash and a man came on to say a quick breaking news about a 24-hour rail strike. As he was talking Eamonn wasn’t listening so when he had finished Eamonn tried to remember what he said, then said, “how long will the rail strike be?”

Eamonn has had a variety of pets – 32 dogs, two rabbits, a tortoise and a goldfish. Well, he used to have a tortoise but poor Eamonn thought his tortoise was dead when it was sleeping so he buried it. When he realised his mistake he felt horrible.     by Umama

 THE incredible Eamonn O’Neal apparently likes folk music. He has enjoyed it since he was a little child. Will he ever get over folk music?

He also absolutely loves telling jokes but not very often; sometimes he tells history jokes but unfortunately doesn’t get a giggle from the audience. He would love it if at least his own children would laugh.     by Melissa

IN Eamonn O’Neal’s childhood he wanted to be an actor so he did that for a bit but then he wanted to be a writer so he did that for a bit. Would he ever make up his mind?

He was inspired by his mum but also by Fr Tom Mulheran who was a chaplain. He likes folk music, traditional Irish music and Motown.

He enjoyed being on the radio because it was exciting but during a news flash he wasn’t concentrating and, unbelievably, when someone said there would be a 24-hour rail strike Eamonn then asked how long the strike would last.

He can’t stop telling bad, corny jokes and he had a dog who kept on having puppies – 31 in all – and he had two rabbits, a tortoise and a goldfish so he ended up with an incredible total of 36 pets.    by Toms

POOR Eamonn O’Neal must’ve had a heart attack when his brakes failed. When middle-aged Eamonn was travelling up a steep hill when he noticed his brakes failed nearly causing his death. Having to stop his car to save his life he turned toward the rocks and wrecked his car. But he was thankful that he lived.

Also after that scare he lost touch with jokes as he tells incredibly corny ones like how long will a turkey last in the freezer till it’s dead? Also this corny joker is also a tortoise killer because his poor old tortoise was buried in the mud while hibernating. Eamonn kept getting more animals and had 32 dogs, 2 rabbits and a goldfish. He still wants more pets but is that for the best?    by Chloe

EAMONN O’Neal can’t help telling rubbish jokes about turkeys. Also, what sort of person wants to be an eagle? I thought driving a car near a cliff was weird but he can also play the piano accordion, which is strange. He has also had 32 dogs, 2 rabbits, one tortoise and a big goldfish, odd.

His favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird and he loves Motown and traditional Irish music. His mum was very emotional when Eamonn published her book Twinkletoes but his most inspiring moment was when he saw Alex Ferguson.    by Ellee

EAMONN O’Neal revealed how delighted his caring mum was when he published the book she wrote and read to children when she was a loving teacher.

He also told us that the most embarrassing moment was on a radio show when his co-worker said “there will be a 24-hour rail strike” and Eamonn asked how long it would last – with thousands of people listening.

Eamonn said that there is a strange thing about him and it is that he can’t help telling bad jokes. Before he revealed this he decided to tell us a joke about how long a turkey lasts in the freezer – there is only one thing to say about this joke and that is it was terrible. Boo!

Eamonn says Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is his favourite and a most inspiring book.

After Eamonn shared this information we sat around and listened to him read Twinkletoes written by his mum.   by Malachi

PUBLISHING his mum’s book, Eamonn O’Neal, managing editor at MEN Media, surprised her.  He also wants to be an eagle.

Thinking his tortoise was dead he buried it but soon found out it was actually alive. When he dug it up it was dead.  The proudest moment in his life was watching his stepson first appear in Coronation Street. The most embarrassing moment of his life was when he asked how long a 24-hour strike would last. His favourite moment of 2012 was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.      by Danny

 A MIDDLE-AGED man with a great career, experience and charisma; it’s not always been easy for him but this article outlines all you need to know about the one and only Eamonn O’Neal.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

“When I was younger I had many ambitions,” he says. “Such as a priest, an actor, a writer and eventually I would retire … and be old.”

What has been the most embarrassing moment in your career?

“Probably when I asked on live radio how long a 24-hour strike would last. It sounds weird but for me I was blushing while I was asleep.”

What has been your scariest moment?

“Well, once I was presenting a car show so I was driving a really big car and my brakes failed. On top of that I was on top of a cliff!”

What, so far, has been the greatest moment from 2012?

“There have been many spectacular moments this year but I have to say the Queen’s Jubilee: it felt so welcoming when the public got together and made parties for the local community.”

Well, there you have it. That is everything that you need to know about the man. by Yousef

EAMONN O’Neal has had a lot of pets. He has had 32 dogs, two rabbits, one tortoise and a goldfish called Cuddles. This brings an incredible total of 36 pets.

With a liking for folk, Motown and Irish music, his mum was a teacher from the age of 20 and told a story called Twinkletoes and when Eamonn published it she was very emotional.

He said he really enjoyed the Queen’s Jubilee because it brought him enjoyment while he was watching. When his son was young they went bird watching together, now his son is in Emmerdale.

He tells terrible jokes and if he was an animal he would be an eagle.   by  Sarah


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This entry was posted on June 20, 2012 by .
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