Sean O’Brien with his mother Una Farrell and his children Sam (who will be 7 on Wednesday of this week) and Zoe, who is almost 3.

Children embracing Sean’s Santa song as their own

A man who has written a Christmas song and recorded it with his children is delighted that other children have embraced it as their own and are singing it to Santa.

Sean O’Brien is from Mullingar and has strong family connections to the town. He now lives in Dublin with his partner Huiqin Huang and their children Sam and Zoe. He has written hundreds of songs and it was a nudge from his late grandmother, Betty Farrell, that encouraged him to release his work.

“Music is something I’ve always done at home,” Sean told the Westmeath Examiner. “I always kept putting it off, I’d say ‘next year, next year, next year’, but my grandmother said to me, ‘will you make me two promises?’.”

Sean agreed and asked her what they were: “She said, ‘first will you cut that hair?’; and I said ‘no, what’s the second promise?’; she said ‘will you do the music?’.”

Sean agreed to do that, and he never saw Betty again because she died after that exchange. “So I thought it was a sign from her.”

Like the rest of his family, Sean’s granny had heard many of his songs, and he decided she was watching over him so he would take action and make use of the “500 to a thousand” songs he had written.

“I’ve recorded almost a full album so far, but I decided that the best way to start was with a Christmas song. I had four or five of them, but the one I thought I’d go with was ‘Santa, Don’t Forget About Me.”

Sean wasn’t happy with how the song sounded in his own voice as it was like he was asking Santa to find him a partner. “I just didn’t think it worked, so I said to Sam one day ‘would you sing this bit for me’ and he did – and I said ‘got it’.”

It wasn’t as simple as that, of course, and Sean, working with his friend and co-producer, Tony Reilly from Cavan, as well as his two children spent much of the month of August on the song, tweaking it and doing their best to capture rare nuggets from the little ones.

“There were bits put in, taken out, horn sections, another ending chorus with la-las and na-nahs, and it just wasn’t working, but in the end I think what’s there is good. The ending with my daughter Zoe (who is almost three) – it took about four hours just to get her to say ‘bye bye’. We had her trying to say ‘ho, ho, ho’, and ‘hello Santa’, but it wasn’t going well and the ‘bye bye’ was the only salvageable thing to come from it.”

Since he released the song online, Sean has taken huge satisfaction from how Sam’s classmates at St Francis Xavier school in Blanchardstown and other young children have embraced it.

“His teacher asked if she could hear the song, and when I collected Sam that Monday, the kids came running up to me saying thanks for the song and I was wondering why, but the teacher, and some of the parents, said the children were making it their own, like they are singing to Santa Claus themselves. At their Christmas fair, the children had learned the chorus and they all sang it together.

“All I wanted was to get the song out and see how it goes, but it’s a great feeling to know that children are singing it to Santa – it’s not that they’re singing my song, it’s them making it their own. It’s these boys and girls of different nationalities saying thank you for the song and the parents are telling me they have it on repeat in the car and on repeat in the house.

“It’s gone past the point of just being satisfied that the song is out – that so many children are singing it to Santa has made it all worthwhile. My partner, who is from China, has shared it with Chinese friends who wouldn’t necessarily celebrate Christmas, and their kids embraced it too.”

Sean is hoping that the children and their parents also like the songs he intends to release from January.

He has years of experience as a songwriter, but it’s only now that he’s putting his music out to the world, and it’s all original material.

“I could never get any happiness from doing covers or someone else’s licks or someone else’s drumbeats, I just had to do my own stuff and that was what made me satisfied with playing instruments.

“All the songs coming are loves songs, there’ll be rock, pop, some country. There’s one in particular that’s mixed and mastered, it’s six minutes long with three guitar solos, and an orchestra solo as well, and a few people who have heard it say it’s like listening to a cinema score.”

Sean’s artistic name is Beautiful Echo and anyone who would like to hear his music, including ‘Santa, Don’t Forget About Me’ can find it on YouTube and the main music platforms under that name.

Mullingar family

Sean’s grandfather Frank Farrell worked in administration with An Post for 40 years and his grandmother was a telephonist with the Courts Service.

His mother Una Farrell was a teacher at schools in Killucan, Rathwire and St Tola’s NS, Delvin. He has uncles, aunts and cousins “all around the town” and he’s a frequent visitor to Mullingar.

Beautiful Echo on Spotify

Beautiful Echo on Apple Music