John Skehan is a front-and-center member of Railroad Earth, one of the biggest festival draws at the national level. He plays mandolin for the New Jersey-based sextet, which has a busy summer that includes headlining performances at Red Rocks and five Noise of the Earth dates with Bruce Hornsby.
During his 40-year career as a priest in Florida, Skehan embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the church. He pleaded guilty to that charge and could face up to 30 years in prison.
Early Life and Education
When John Skehan was a young boy he was always surrounded by music. He played the piano and was also a member of a singer-songwriter duo, but when a friend handed him a mandolin at a gig he decided to take up the instrument.
He went on to study at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. During his time there, he met many talented musicians and friends.
When he was ready to enter the professional world, Skehan began his career as a teacher. He remained in education for 14 years and was the Superintendent of MSAD 22 (Hampden, Newburgh, Winterport). He was also a founding member and decades-long Trustee of the Hampden Regional Library, now called the Edythe L. Dyer Community Library, and a member of the Hampden Kiwanis Club.
As a professor at the University of Maine for 14 years, Skehan taught educational leadership and school law courses. He also served as a consultant on school budgeting and planning.
A respected member of the church community, he was the pastor at St. Vincent’s for more than 40 years, a beloved pillar of the community who was praised by many parishioners as a true friend and supporter of all.
But when the news of his arrest for grand theft exploded in national and international headlines, some parishioners were aghast. They were stunned by what police described as an extensive pattern of misappropriating church funds for a variety of purposes including lavish trips to Ireland and resorts.
The case against Guinan and Skehan was the first financial scandal to hit Delray Beach’s Catholic Church, a diocese whose members have fought hard for transparency and accountability. Unless they reach a plea deal, both are expected to stand trial this summer on three counts of grand theft.
Achievements and Honors
john skehan had an illustrious career, both as a teacher and a researcher. His contributions to the field of geology and at Weston Observatory made him a respected member of the scientific community.
He co-organized an expedition to Surtsey, a new island that formed off the coast of Iceland in the wake of a volcanic eruption. The resulting research on the island helped to earn it UNESCO World Heritage status.
He also founded a department of geology at Boston College and directed the university’s Weston Observatory, which regularly monitors seismic activity around the world. He received numerous honors for his teaching and research, including the American Institute of Professional Geologists’ Ben H. Parker Memorial Medal.
John Skehan is a prominent Irish TV presenter and journalist. He began his career as a reporter on Broadsheet, a popular current affairs series produced by Telefis Eireann, before becoming a well-known radio commentator.
In March 2009, he was convicted of misusing funds from church collections to finance secret lives that included steady girlfriends and real estate investments in Florida and Ireland. He and his successor, Francis Guinan, were accused of stealing more than $8.6 million to fund lavish life-styles, including gambling junkets to Las Vegas and the Bahamas.
Supporters rushed to the prison early Sunday morning to pick up Skehan after his release. “We got a call in the middle of the night,” said Michelle Donahue, who is a friend of Skehan and is a spokeswoman for the tight-knit group of Skehan’s supporters.
John Skehan is a mandolin player and guitarist for Railroad Earth, a band that performs on the bluegrass festival circuit. He has an estimated net worth of $5 million.
He has been married to Sofie Larsson since June 2015. The couple has two children.
After high school, Skehan enrolled at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania to study piano. He began playing guitar in singer-songwriter duos at clubs and bars, but it wasn’t until he was given a mandolin that his musical tastes really took shape.
He is also a renowned food writer and presenter for the UK’s food network. He has appeared in several cooking programs and is a regular guest on Saturday Kitchen.