‘Irish hillbilly’ making an impact in Worth

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

Talk with John Staunton, proprietor of the Chieftain Irish Pub in Worth, PAGE-5-IRISHJohn Staunton/Sean Mora may not be a big Nashville star but he loves his country music and owns a pub in Worth. Photo by Colleen McElroy.for just five minutes and you will learn two things.
First, he is Irish.
Second, he loves his music.
But not just any music. His passion is country music, which he sings, writes and plays in his own pub, as well as locations across the U.S.
Staunton, also known as Sean Mora, which is Gaelic for “Big John” is not your usual, run-of-the-mill, wannabe musician. He is an accomplished singer and composer who is also a civic-minded, entrepreneur with a flair for running a successful business. The Chieftain Irish Pub will celebrate its fifth year anniversary on Saturday.
His journey to Worth began years ago in Ireland where his father was an Irish folk singer and their home was filled with music. Staunton knew early on, however, that his heart was in country music.
“I was an Irish Hillbilly,” he said with a laugh. “Country music is huge in Ireland.”
By 1990, he had formed a band called “The Cadillacs” which became successful and toured Ireland, Scotland and the United Kingdom for ten years. As the band members began to marry and have children they tired of all the travel, Staunton said. Looking for a new challenge, he traveled to the United States where he had gigs in New York, Boston, Chicago and Cleveland.
Eventually he said he felt the lure of Nashville and headed there with songs he had written. Still living in Ireland, he would travel back and forth a couple of times a month to visit Nashville.
Finally, he said an agent told him he needed to be in the “inner circle” in order to be heard.
Staunton shifted gears. Music was still his interest and he wanted a base in the U.S.
Enter, Worth, Illinois. Staunton was visiting relatives in the southwest suburban region and saw a broken down bar for sale on 111th Street.
“I love a challenge and I decided to go for it,” he said.
He approached the village officials and told them his plans for the building, which included a total remodeling and expansion and then opening again as a bar.
“They asked me if I had lost my mind,” he said.
He told them he would close on the building, board it up, return to Ireland for three months to get his affairs in order, come back and begin the remodeling. “I did exactly what I told them I would do,” he said.
He renovated the building, inside and out and added a second story with three apartments. The Chieftain Irish Pub opened for business in May, 2010.
“It is a family-friendly pub with a neighborhood community atmosphere,’’ he said. “There is no nonsense in my pub. I want it to be an asset to the village.”
Staunton says he draws customers from the Palos communities, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Chicago Ridge and Alsip.
Staunton says it is important to become a part of the community. He said the Village of Worth was extremely helpful as he moved through all the paperwork required when starting a project such as the remodeling he did.
In Ireland, he said he was very involved with the civic groups and business community. He currently serves on the village’s economic development commission as chairman where he is spearheading work on a long-term master plan.
He still finds time for his beloved music and writes when he feels the inspiration. At least twice a year, he goes on tour to New York and Boston where he plays a country-Irish music mix. ”I like to keep my hand in.” he said
During July and August, on Sunday nights, you can find him on the front patio of the pub, relaxing and jamming with fellow musicians.
To hear him play and sing his own compositions as well as familiar country songs, visit his website at!music-/cl5sm.