Staub and Dunne

Shannon Staub with singer and author Cahal Dunne.

NORTH PORT — A year ago, the Friends of the Shannon Staub Library had to cancel their yearly fundraising concert featuring Irish singer and author Cahal Dunne.

Now, the Friends are pulling out all the stops to make this year’s concert and book sale a safe and satisfying success.

The concert and book sale featuring Dunne is set for March 26 at the Sarasota County Technical College, 4675 Career Lane, North Port. It’s on the same campus as the Staub Library, just off Toledo and Cranberry boulevards, and close to Interstate 75, exit 179.

Dunne is most famous for representing Ireland in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Happy Man.” He recently published a new book titled “Athenry: An Odyssey of Sacrifice, Survival and Love,” a story that puts a human face on the Irish Famine of 1845.

“He has done some programs for us in the past, and during the pandemic all of his appearances were canceled so he used that time to finish his book,” said event organizer, Judy Savela, who invited Dunne to be part of this family friendly event.

Savela joined a mixed voice chorus several years ago led by Dunne, and the two developed a friendship.

“He’s done performances for us since 2019 — he is incredibly talented,” Savela said. “He is beloved by the library staff. When Cahal and ChoirPlay performed in 2019 to benefit the library Friends, the choir sang ‘I Want to Dance with You,’ a hit song by George Strait. During the song‘s chorus, Cahal asked Shannon to dance with him, and she did.”

Shannon is Shannon Staub, the former Sarasota County Commissioner for whom the library is named. Staub has focused her passion on bettering public libraries by becoming founding chair of the Library Foundation of Sarasota County in 2012, where she served for seven years and is still very active in the organization.

On the day of the show, Dunne will greet guests and will sing “The Fields of Athenry,” the song which inspired his book. Five different times slots are available for groups of 50 or less.

“He will talk about ‘Athenry’ and read select passages,” Savela said. “And he will sign your copy if you’d like. Select a time slot online when you make a donation and pick up the book at the event. You’ll also get a link to a special PBS performance.”

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. March 26, the Friends will be conducting a sale of books, CDs, DVDs, and other items in the library’s large meeting room and in the bookstore.

“This sale’s so big we need to hold it in two places. Shoppers can fill a bag for $5.”

There will be three food trucks, outdoor activities for children, a gift basket raffle, and a book talk and performance. The food trucks will be there from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Taste the fare of Jersey Shore Crab Company, Baylor’s Southern Soul barbecue, and Sunny Days Ice Cream.

“Bring a lawn chair or a beach blanket and dine picnic style.”

The Friends group is inviting everyone to go to its website now and view a 25-minute ZOOM conversation between Cahal Dunne and Shannon Staub for a discussion about the characters of the book and he also sings the “The Fields of Athenry.”

All funds raised will go to support library programs. For more information, visit


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