Panti Bliss is a contestant in 'Dancing With The Stars'.

Panti's grandfather was Garda chief superintendent in Navan

Drag artist tweets Chronicle report about aunt


‘Dancing With The Stars’ contestant Panti Bliss (Rory O'Neill) has revealed that her grandfather is a former Garda Chief Superintendent who was based in Navan, and that her aunt was one of Aer Lingus' first representatives in Los Angeles.

She recently tweeted a clipping from the Meath Chronicle about her Navan native aunt, Maura O'Neill.

The Meath Chronicle reported in January 1977 that Miss Maura O'Neill was the first sales representative to be appointed to the Aer Lingus office in Los Angeles when it opened in 1962, appointed area manager for the airline in Southern California.

“Born in Navan, Miss O'Neill joined Aer Lingus in 1961 and has covered the territory of Southern California for sixteen years. She was the first woman representative to sell cargo on the west coast of America for any airline,” the Chronicle reported.

“Miss O'Neill will now be responsible for the administration of the Aer Lingus office in Los Angeles and will also be responsible for gathering passenger and cargo business in a territory which includes Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. Miss O'Neill is daughter of the late Garda Chief Superintendent A L O'Neill, formerly of Brews Hill, Navan, and of Mrs Bessie O'Neill, who now resides in Bettystown.”

Panti Tweeted: “The Meath Chronicle reports the promotion of my aunty Maura, who has been “the first woman representative to sell cargo in the west coast of America for any airline”. She’s still there, living in the same building in Santa Monica since the 60s.”

Rory O'Neill aka Panti Bliss is Ireland’s best known drag artist. The Mayo native has been performing as Panti since 1998. In 2007, Rory opened Panti Bar on Capel Street in Dublin which has become one of Ireland’s most well-known gay bars. In 2015 Panti became a household name in Ireland as she spoke out and campaigned for equality in the marriage referendum. Many cite Panti’s now infamous 'Noble Call’ on The Abbey Stage as a moment that sparked debate and altered opinions. Following the marriage referendum Panti became an icon for change in Ireland and has even been spoken of as an establishment figure. In 2019 Rory married his partner Anderson Cabrera.

The Sunday evening RTÉ One series sees 11 well-known figures team up with a professional dancer to perform a live routine every week. Each pairing will have a different dancing genre to master every week, from the Charleston to hip hop, and they'll have just seven days to perfect their routine before performing live to the nation. Tonight will see them perform to music from the movies.

Each celebrity couple will be scored by an expert panel of judges and the viewing public at home, with the winning couple claiming the much-coveted glitter ball trophy at the end of the series.

The celebrities taking on the challenge this year are former state pathologist, Marie Cassidy, Panti Bliss (Rory O’Neill), former Eurovision entrant, Brooke Scullion, style blogger, Suzanne Jackson, former Dublin footballer, Paul Brogan, singer, Damian McGinty, retired rugby player, Shane Byrne, soccer player, Stephanie Roche, radio presenter, Carl Mullan, actor Leah O’Rourke and Cavan native comedian, Kevin McGahern.

Joining the 11 professional dancers this year is new dancer Michael Danilczuk, who joins John Nolan, Karen Byrne, Emily Barker, Ervinas Merfeldas, Laura Nolan, Kylee Vincent, Stephen Vincent, Denys Samson, Salome Chachua, Maurizio Benenato and Hannah Kelly.

Host Jennifer Zamparelli is joined this year by Doireann Garrihy, and judges Loraine Barry, Brian Redmond and Arthur Gourounlian return.