DUNEDIN, Fla. — A longtime musician and local Dunedin celebrity has been reunited with his favorite instrument after it was stolen from his house six years ago.
Noel Cooney is well-known in Dunedin, where he’s lived since the 90s.
“My wife and I bought Flanagan’s and she ran it, and I was the entertainer, but I sang all over the country,” said Noel Cooney.
He and his wife sold Flanagan’s Irish Pub a few years back, but the stage inside is still named after him.
“I tell the musicians that are on the stage, ‘you realize you’re on my stage,’” said Cooney.
And the day after St. Patrick’s Day is Noel Cooney Day.
“You couldn’t get me out of Dunedin,” said Cooney.
He’s an Irish folk singer who played his favorite guitar for decades after he bought it in Ireland in 1972. Then around 6 years ago, it was stolen from his house, along with another guitar and a banjo.
“I was disappointed… Part of my life went with it. I thought I’d never get it back,” said Cooney.
But a few weeks ago, Cody Hanlon, another local musician, walked into a pawn shop looking for odds and ends for his studio.
“I saw this guitar hanging on the wall, and I could tell it had been played a lot,” said Cody Hanlon, a guitarist for Richard Cory.
He turned it over and saw Noel Cooney carved into the neck plate.
"I started doing research and I saw that he used to own Flanagan’s pub, he was a large part of the Irish community in here, the Irish musical community, I found out about the City of Dunedin having a Noel Cooney Day, found out about the Noel Cooney stage here at Flanagan’s and I’m like, ‘this is weird, this guitar, clearly somebody important in this community-owned this guitar and played it and loved it. Why is it in a pawn shop,’” said Hanlon.
So he took it to Flanagan’s hoping to find out. Noel’s son was inside the pub that day, and he called Noel to come check the guitar out. Sure enough, it was his.
“Part of my life came back,” said Cooney.
And now, thanks to Cody, it’s back into the right hands.
“He’s a very honest guy, and I love him for it,” said Cooney.
Hanlon said he’s just grateful he was able to right a wrong.