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O'Neill has been a local politician in Atlantic City for several years. He is an Alderman of the Atlantic City Council. He is a Republican and works for political boss Nucky Thompson. As a Ward Boss he is responsible for making collections for Nucky's organization and managing Precinct Captains in his ward. He is an Irish American and a member of the Order of Ancient Celts.
With the dawn of prohibition Nucky assembles his organisation for a dinner at Babette's Supper Club and explains that they are about to get in to bootlegging. O'Neill's colleagues greet the announcement with cheers and applause but O'Neill is doubtful that prohibition will inflate liquor prices as much as Nucky hopes. His colleague Jim Neary jokes that O'Neill pays for worthless prostitutes all the time. O'Neill worries about law enforcement and Sheriff Eli Thompson tells him that he will prevent any involvement. Nucky dismisses the danger of federal prohibition agents. ("Boardwalk Empire")
Nucky entertains guests in his suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Eddie Cantor sings while Lucy Danziger and friends dance. O'Neill attends with a girlfriend. Aldermen Jim Neary and Damien Fleming are also there with their girlfriends. ("Broadway Limited")
In his office Nucky berates Eli and Deputy Halloran, for their inability to catch the murderers of Kendall. Kendall was lynched outside a livery but Eli and Nucky have conspired to make the crime look like a shooting by a jealous cuckold. Eli says they have asked around and that no-one cares about the murder of an African American. Nucky points out that his bootlegging partner, African American community leader Chalky White, cares and that means that he cares. He also warns Eli about the political ramifications of the murder remaining unsolved because they could lose Chalky’s support. From the bar, O'Neill offers the wisdom that control of Atlantic City gives control of Atlantic County and with that comes state wide influence. Eli has heard this before and demonstratively joins in. Eli believes the African American community will always vote in line with Nucky’s instructions. Nucky points out that Chalky is the intermediary in that process. Eli dismisses Chalky’s importance, saying that Chalky’s wealth and power come from Nucky’s support and that Chalky would never risk his position by defying Nucky’s instructions. Nucky insists that Chalky cannot maintain his credibility amongst African Americans if word of Kendall’s lynching gets out. Eli reasserts Nucky’s importance to Chalky. Nucky again tries to convince Eli of their interdependence using the analogy of one hand washing another and both hands washing the face. Halloran interjects with a racist joke and Nucky sends him outside. Once Halloran is gone, Nucky says that he never liked him. Eli calls Halloran a good man who is ready and able. Nucky concludes the discussion by ordering Eli to step up the investigation. ("Anastasia")
Nucky counts money in his salon while O'Neill and Neary play cards with fishing boat Captain Bill McCoy at the table. Alderman Boyd is playing the piano while Eli sits next to Nucky reading notes for his planned speech at the St. Patrick's Day dinner of the Order of Ancient Celts. Nucky chastises O’Neill and O’Neill says that prohibition puts them in uncharted territory. Neary toasts the Irish and their prodigious drinking and Nucky jokes that he personally drinks to forget, but can’t remember what. Fleming arrives with his collections money for Nucky and says that his ward’s speakeasies have been packed with people of all ethnicities. Nucky observes that people want what they cannot have and Boyd is impressed by Nucky’s grasp of psychology. Fleming says his people cannot keep liquor on the shelves, Eli interjects that it should be hidden under the shelves, while Fleming goes on to say he needs to increase his order. Eli asks if McCoy is listening and McCoy responds that he needs to get another boat. Fleming asks the others to deal him into their game and Nucky asks when McCoy is leaving port. McCoy jokingly says he leaves at “the stroke of midnight on a sea of green.” Fleming wonders if McCoy means that the sea is green from money or from the dyed beer they will serve later. Nucky wonders how the preparation of the beer is progressing and Neary reassures him that the food colouring has arrived and is being mixed with the beer as they speak. Nucky jokes that they will need plenty of beer to get the Celts through Eli’s re-election speech. Boyd is surprised that Eli is speaking and Nucky repeats his earlier comparison to Daniel Webster. Eli is annoyed at the jest but Nucky continues, revealing that Eli is taking lessons. Fleming toasts to “the great orator” and O’Neill requests a sample. Eli refuses and Nucky says the Irish are a surly lot. O’Neill suggests giving Eli a drink and Neary jokes that he can have green beer. Nucky says anyone can drink as long as they pay and Neary assures him that they will. McCoy bursts into song replacing the words from "Danny Boy" with an ode to Nucky’s bootlegging success. O'Neill later attends the dinner along with the other aldermen and is sat at the top table with Nucky, Eli, Boyd, Neary, Mayor Bacharach, The Commodore and Ethan Thompson. Neary is arrested for bootlegging when the dinner is broken up by Prohibition Agents. ("Nights in Ballygran")
O'Neill makes his collection rounds along the boardwalk. He visits a Chinese restaurant near to the Cafe Beaux-Arts, counts the money into a leather pouch and then crosses it off his list. He is approached by Pius D'Alessio who insults him, spits in his face and then runs off. O’Neill gives chase and as he rounds a corner Ignacious D'Alessio steps out and hits him in the head knocking him out. Ignacious steals the pouch full of money and leaves O’Neill to wake up to seagulls circling above him. ("Family Limitation")
In his office, Nucky Thompson quizzes O’Neill about the robbery. O’Neill cannot believe the audacity of his attackers. Atlantic County Sheriff Eli Thompson asks O’Neill if the muggers were from his own ward. O’Neill says they were not and asserts his in depth knowledge of his constituents. He suggests that they might have come from Alderman Boyd's ward because they looked Italian American, using a racial epithet. Nucky asks for more detail and O’Neill says only that they looked feeble minded. He promises to have his people looking for the perpetrators. Nucky says they should let Eli handle it and recommends that O’Neill apply a steak to the swelling on his forehead. ("Family Limitation")
O'Neill lets himself into Nucky's office in and exclaims “Oh” when he realises Eli is in Nucky’s chair. Nucky is attending the 1920 Republican National Convention. Eli is irked by O’Neill’s disappointment and asks what he wants. O’Neill says that his daughter is being fitted for leg braces on Friday and would like to take the day off. Eli wonders who typically covers for O’Neill and he explains that it is normally Alderman Jim Neary but with Neary under indictment for Volstead Act violations he has been covering his route too. Halloran wonders if O’Neill’s daughter has polio and O’Neill ignores him. Eli tells O’Neill to take the day off and is annoyed when O’Neill asks if he is sure. O’Neill thanks him and exits. While covering O'Neill's collection at Lolly Steinman's casino Eli stumbles on a robbery in progress. He is shot and wounded by the D'Alessio brothers. ("Hold Me in Paradise")
Nucky convenes a meeting around the sickbed of his wounded brother. Also present are Steinman, Deputy Halloran and O’Neill. Steinman holds police records including mugshots of Leo D’Alessio. He uses his fingers to mimic the mask Leo wore while carrying out the robbery and observes that in the moment he felt like he would never forget but now can barely recall a thing. He shuffles through the records which also include photos of Ignacious D’Alessio and Matteo D’Alessio. Nucky asks Steinman to confirm that it was the D’Alessio brothers. Eli says that he is certain and Steinman agrees. O’Neill pulls out the card for Pius and identifies Pius as the lure in his mugging. Halloran describes the brothers as a “family of Dagos out of Philly”. Nucky holds the cards for Sixtus and Lucien D’Alessio; Lucien’s facial birthmark is clear in the photograph. They are known as a group of burglars who have graduated to stickups and Eli recalls investigating them for the robbery of Bookbinders on 17th Street where two customers and a waiter were killed. O’Neill recalls that Pius called him fat, earning a sidelong glance from Nucky. Eli reminds O’Neill that the brothers are killers and tells him that he was lucky to avoid more serious injury. Nucky asks for time alone with Eli and the others leave the room. The brothers later attempt to assassinate Nucky but are thwarted by Eddie. ("Belle Femme")
In season 2 he sides with The Commodore in an attempted political coup against Nucky.
O'Neill becomes anxious about the coup's chances of success when The Commodore disappears from public life. He is seen sharing a worried look with his co-conspirator Eli Thompson at the memorial day ceremony. O'Neill hears rumours about The Commodore having a stroke, which unbeknownst to him are true. O'Neill tracks Eli down at his garage, intending to ask Eli to go to The Commodore's house with him. When Eli tries to convince O'Neill that The Commodore is fine, O'Neill does not believe him and decides to visit The Commodore's house alone. Eli gets physical, grabbing O'Neill and O'Neill takes this as confirmation that the rumours are true. O'Neill threatens to go straight to Nucky and tell him everything. Eli takes a wrench from his workbench and strikes O'Neill in the throat. O'Neill coughs up blood and collapses. Eli beats the unconscious O'Neill to death. ("Gimcrack & Bunkum")
- Mrs. O'Neill - Wife
- Nucky Thompson - Ex-boss (deceased)
- The Commodore - Boss (deceased)
- Eli Thompson - Murderer, colleague, co-conspirator
- Jimmy Darmody - Colleague, co-conspirator (deceased)
- Jim Neary - Colleague, co-conspirator (deceased)
- Damien Fleming - Colleague
- Boyd - Colleague, co-conspirator
- Paddy Ryan - Colleague, co-conspirator
- Owen Sleater - Employee (deceased)
|Season one appearances|
|Boardwalk Empire||The Ivory Tower||Broadway Limited||Anastasia|
|Nights in Ballygran||Family Limitation||Home||Hold Me in Paradise|
|Belle Femme||The Emerald City||Paris Green||A Return to Normalcy|
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|