Irish American Writers & Artists

October 10, 2017

10.5.17 IAW&A Salon: Thrilling Night, Full of Passion, Compassion & Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:09 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A grateful audience member described the early October IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia as: “a thrilling evening of artistry, passion, jollity and excitement. It was ALIVE! Inclusive! Welcoming!”

We agree wholeheartedly. It was the perfect mix of talents and genres, with outstanding work by members and two special guests, one an artist/musician from China, who brought his film crew; the other a charismatic jazz singer who brought her back-up dancers.

Poet and author John Brennan read poems inspired by his travels: “Valleys and Dust” about the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and “Canyons and Dust” which recounts his time in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Next came his gorgeous tribute to Yeats “The Night Moths,” read in John’s fine Armagh voice.

John Brennan, left.  Thom Molyneaux

Salon regular Thom Molyneaux read from the great Irish playwright John B. Keane’s Letters of a Country Postman. In a charming Irish accent, Thom portrayed the postman writing to his friend Hammish Mac Shamus to describe the powerful aphrodisiac qualities of wearing a uniform. “You could be a film star and escape without notice but pull on a postman’s uniform and you were a target for every sex-starved damsel in the district.”

Salongoers paid rapt attention to Kathleen Vaughan’s story “Christmas Daddy” from her memoir-in-progress. Born in County Cork, Kate lost her mother at the tender age of 4 and landed in a Catholic orphanage in the Bronx. Hence, the book’s title, Raised by Nuns and Drunks.

catseyepix-0761 kate v Kate Vaughn

Versatile singer/songwriter Aiesha Dukes sang two songs, “Need You” and an a cappella “Lush Life,” accompanied by the dancers from her band, Miss Dukes Music, which she formed this year. Aiesha has been performing in the well reviewed Me The People: The Trump America Musical. Look for Miss Dukes Music on Facebook and at

catseyepix-0074_preview Dukes 2 Aeisha Dukes

Our guest Zhenggeng Ding, visiting from Sichuan Province, China is a poet, calligrapher, painter and accordion player. He played a virtuoso solo and through the kind translation of Daisy Kearns,explained that his composition was a tribute to a late friend, who will always be in his heart.

catseyepix-0103_preview zing
Zhenggeng Ding, playing the accordion.
catseyepix-0148_preview daisy
Daisy Kearns, Zhenggeng Ding.

In Tom Mahon’s story called “Mistaken,” a young boy took a five-dollar bill from under his grandfather’s Christmas tree. When they got home, his father beat him with his belt to curb his son’s childish impulses, damaging the bright, vivacious boy. “Something happened to my brother that night,” his older sister says.  “Something broke inside him, and stayed broken.” Told with Tom’s usual verve.

catseyepix-0155_preview tomTom Mahon

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a newly polished episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds. In it, Seamus Logan, now a Philadelphia construction magnate, looks back on an afternoon spent near Bunowen, County Mayo with his beloved Mary. They had run away from the eyes of their small town to secluded cliffs by the beach. When the young couple’s passion had threatened to take things too far, Seamus stopped them. The older Seamus wonders if he had made the right decision and if Mary had been disappointed in him.

John Kearns, left.  Brent Shearer

Agent provocateur Brent Shearer read a satire about having to kick the Irish members out of the IAW&A. Despite giving what he calls “another superlative performance,” he was surprised that nobody got his joke about dumping ashes in the municipal pool in his ancestral town of Kilcrohane.

catseyepix-0167_preview MM

Samhain, the Celtic new year, and forerunner of Halloween is coming up October 31st, Maura Mulligan, pictured at left, reminded us. It’s “the time of year when the earth rests” and the thin veil between this world and the “other world” allows easy passage between them. Maura read an account of a Samhain celebration when ghosts seemed to be out to get her, and invited Salon guests to a Samhain celebration on October 31, with a theme of Immigration. If you are interested in attending and sharing a story about an immigrant who deserves to be remembered for his/her contribution to America, (and also contribute to a worthy cause, The Dwelling Place of New York), contact for details and start planning your costume.

In a powerful dramatic selection from To The Sea, a solo performance she’s developing, Guenevere Donohue told the story of her first trip to the beach. Followed by her rendition of the Kurt Weill song Pirate Jenny, Guen turned in a brilliant performance.

catseyepix-0179_preview guen 2

Guenevere Donohue

Malachy McCourt ended the night in top form. Malachy always takes the time to thank John Kearns for his work organizing and hosting this terrific evening. And he encourages members and guests in their own work. “You are all artists. Not aspiring.”Tonight Malachy was simply on fire arguing about the horror of guns and violence in this country. Reminding us “the word is more powerful than the gun,” he sang “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

catseyepix-0189_preview malachy.jpg
Malachy McCourt
catseyepix-0208_preview gang.jpgMany of the presenters, at the end of the night.

catseyepix-0210_preview friends.jpg

REMINDER: The next Salon at The Cell will be on Thursday, October 26 at 7 pm




September 24, 2017

9.19.17 IAW&A Salon: “Effervescent artistry and joyous fun…and variety…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 1:33 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

That note from a grateful participant sums up the mid-September IAW&A Salon at The Cell, hosted by Salon producer John Kearns.

It’s never too early to think Christmas with Mark William Butler. A playwright, producer, songwriter and IAW&A Board member – and producer of the program content for our upcoming O’Neill Award honoring Phil Donohue – Mark brought the wonderful Kaitlyn Baldwin and John Skocik to present a scene from his Ugly Christmas Sweater: The Musical. To see more,

Mark Butler, left. Kaitlyn Baldwin, center,  John Skocik

On a somber but moving tone, frequent Salon presenter Gordon Gilbert, Jr. read two pieces that dealt with Alzheimer’s disease, one a short poem called “The Alzheimer’s Waltz” and a new monologue, “Waking to a New World.”

Gordon Gilbert, left.  Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher knows that nostalgia can be sweet as well as sad, as she illustrates in her captivating story, “Finer Things.” In it, an elderly lawyer reunites with the object of his unrequited love many years after the end of their affair. Look for Maureen’ s poetry chapbook Lesser Known Saints, due out in the spring from Finishing Line Press.

Leilani McInerney gave another astonishing performance with her enactment of her own writings on aging, death and the hereafter. She made sure to include “humor and enlightenment,” noting that she felt emboldened by Malachy McCourt’s Death Need Not Be Fatal.

leilani.jpgLeilani McInerney

Sheila Walsh was delighted with the performances of Nancy Oda and Jack Di Monte reading Sheila’s short play “Finding The Fountain.” Another one-act in Sheila’s evening of eight one-acts, Lost and Found, the piece has a supernatural twist.

jack nancy.jpgJack DiMonte, Nancy Oda

Singing in unaccompanied harmony, Dan and Bonnie Milner amazed the audience with their performance of two traditional Irish-American songs from their CD, Irish Songs from Old New England. In “Cork Harbor” a wild storm at sea blinds the narrator, who returns to Ireland and marries his beloved. In “Here’s Adieu to Old Ireland” a bad lad is arrested and transported to Australia. Seven years later, returning to Ireland, he finds that his mother, who had cautioned him to reform, has died in his absence.

millners.jpgBonnie and Dan Milner

Actress and singer Annalisa Chamberlin had a chance to showcase her talents tonight. She performed a darkly comedic monologue “Blue Mountain” in which a young woman ponders a marriage proposal. Committed, yet conflicted, she explores options that include marital bliss, murder and faking her own death. A new IAW&A member, Dan Brown from Rockaway Beach, wrote the piece.

Annalisa performed two original songs: a poignant waltz she composed this summer, which she played on the grand piano, and “Easy Answers” a satirical piece written by our own John Kearns who accompanied on guitar.

Annalisa Chamberlin, John Kearns

In Brent Shearer’s story, a husband pauses time while shopping in a toy store with his wife, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. Brent, a writer living on the lower West Side, loved to challenge the audience with his work.


Brent Shearer, left. Christy Kelly

Poet, screenwriter and novelist Christy Kelly shared some poems, including “To Be Alone” and a tender tribute to a late friend.

Sarah Fearon had the surprise treat of working with Omar Haddad on guitar accompaniment, which she felt made her comedy set “a beatnik jazzy performance piece.” Sarah covered such subjects as the pending apocalypse, DNA tests, quitting smoking and crazy names of juice bar smoothies. Catch more of her work at The Friars Club on October 3 and at Tallulah Lounge on October 18.  Email for info!

omar sarahOmar Haddad,  Sarah Fearon

Singer, songwriter, artist John Munnelly played some original songs. “Expanding Universe” is the lead song on his ready-to-launch limited edition and handmade-designed-created EP/CD. He also sang – and we sang along – to “It’s Going to Be Alright,” composed last week for use at John’s songwriting seminar. Be sure to look out for John’s CD launch. or

john.jpg John Munnelly

Singer, songwriter, actor John Skocik started the night performing as “The Ugly Christmas Sweater” and ended it by singing some of his rollicking rock songs, including “Son of A Bitch” and “Even If Takes All Night.

joh s .jpgJohn Skocik

For more artistry and variety, come to the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, October 5.

September 16, 2017

9.7.17 IAW&A Salon: Poignant Stories, Amusing Poems and Camaraderie on a Balmy September Night at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:24 am

By Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy

Photos by Cat Dwyer

Edna O’Brien believes that Irish writers are driven by conflict…and loss…and an innate sense of tragedy. At the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon, summer came to an end with tales of death, love and loss.

Brent Shearer got the Salon started with “The Cancer Hospital” a story about a biddy who ventures into Manhattan from Long Island to visit her dying friend.  Afraid of muggers, she leaves her handbag home but carries with her the racist fears and prejudices that haunt her. Brent’s work has appeared in publications from the New York Times to Mergers & Acquisitions magazine, where he was a senior editor.

IAWA Salon, Thalia, Sept 7 2017

Brent Shearer

Our next presenter, Kathleen Vaughan, read from her memoir Raised by Nuns and Drunks, which describes a child’s loss of home and parental love. The excerpt was a tribute to her aunt whose visits to the young Kathleen brightened her seven years spent in a Catholic orphanage. While occasionally taking lady-like sips from her whiskey flask, Auntie Nora shared indelible memories of Kathleen’s mother and provided the “powerful, unstoppable love” she needed.


Kathleen Vaughan

IAW&A Board member Brendan Costello Jr. read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Winning, which despite its hopeful title, continued the somewhat dark themes of the Salon so far. The scene’s main character (a callow young man in his late twenties) observes the interaction of several homeless men across the street from his New Orleans hotel room. His detachment and disdain is meant to indicate his moral bankruptcy, much like the scene in Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness on which it is based.


Brendan Costello Jr.


At this point in the evening, host Maureen Hossbacher welcomed back, fresh from the Electric Picnic Arts & Music Festival in County Laois, John Kearns who accompanied a contingent of artists (novelist Kathleen Donohue, actress Maria Deasy, playwright Derek Murphy, comedian Sarah Fearon and monologist John McDonagh), who participated with John in our first Salons on Irish soil! John described their activities in Laois and other venues, and reminded us of important IAW&A events upcoming in NYC, most notably our exciting annual fundraiser, the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manhattan Club, on Monday, Oct. 16, 6-9pm, this year honoring legendary talk show host Phil Donahue (for tkts go to

John, pictured above, read a newly completed ending to an episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds, in which Paul Logan hopes to take barmaid Laura out for the evening but finds himself staying at her bar to listen to the Santana cover band, Bruja. When Laura’s friend, Stacey, arrives, the evening turns out completely different from what Paul had planned.

Rosina Fernhoff, a masterful, Obie Award-winning actor and frequent performer at our Salons, brought the first half to a close with a passionate monologue from the play Grace by Mick Gordon and AC Grayling.  In it, the bitter conflict which an atheist scientist has with her adored son, a gentle evangelist minister, is revealed.  She scornfully blames his death on his attempt to turn a  “violent religion into a better religion.”


Rosina Fernhoff

After the sobering subject matter of the presentations, a nice long intermission for socializing and imbibing refreshed us for the second half, kicked off by Karen Frances McCarthy, who read a poignant vignette “Living Room.  Morning” from her memoir entitled appropriately enough, Love, Sex & Death. She prefaced her reading by joking that she would read “the sex part” at her next Salon. McCarthy, an accomplished journalist, has written and produced documentaries for RTE and covered the Iraq war for the Irish Times and American politics for Al Jazeera. Her book The Other Irish became part of the cross border peace effort in Ireland, for which she was named one of Ireland’s most influential broadcasters who have made an international impact.


Karen Frances McCarthy

Gordon Gilbert writes fiction and poetry, and his play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home, has been directed and produced by him six times in NYC.  This evening he presented four poems, the first about how distance can make a lover forget the bad and remember the good; the next three about his father, who passed away this summer at the age of 98.  Gordon ended with an amusing anecdote from the eulogy he gave at the memorial service.


Gordon Gilbert

Next up, Mary Lannon furnished a bit more levity with her poems: “To Impersonate a Poet,” “An Exercise,” “I Am Monica Lewinsky,” and “In the Land of Landlords.”  The last two drew much laughter from the crowd. Mary’s fiction has been published at StoryNew World Writing and Prick of the Spindle. She’s at work on a second novel, and this was the first time she has read poetry at the Salon.


Mary Lannon

Tom Mahon, a long-time member and presenter, then read a vignette from his collection Delusions, a sad tale entitled “The Ten Grand Bride,” about a business transaction — a loveless green card marriage — that was supposed to improve the life of a lonely bachelor.  It didn’t.


Tom Mahon

Salon host Maureen Hossbacher ended the proceedings with a shout-out to Malachy McCourt, who often closes the salon with a yarn and a song, but sent his regrets this evening.  In his absence, Maureen sang us out with a stunning rendition of the Broadway classic from Finian’s Rainbow, “How Are Things In Glocca Morra.”


Maureen Hossbacher 

Come to the next Salon on Tuesday, 9/19 at The Cell Theatre.










August 21, 2017

8.15.17 IAW&A SALON: Musical, Moving and Drop-Dead Funny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 10:14 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark Butler

Three theater pieces, musical variety, poetry, video and lots of laughs were featured at the August IAW&A Salon at The Cell. Members continue to be inspired by last month’s immigration-themed Salon and by the topic of Malachy McCourt’s latest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal.


The audience cheered when Salon producer and host John Kearns read briefly from IAW&A mission statement: While avoiding party affiliation and endorsing no candidates for public office, IAW&A is outspoken in defense of artistic freedom, human rights and social justice. For its entirety, go to


Erin Krebs and Madden McDonagh

College students Madden McDonagh and Erin Krebs made their Salon debut with an accomplished rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Erin, a musical theater student, sang and Madden accompanied her on piano. They have been playing music together since they were 14 and offered their artistic vision to Cabtivist, the one-man show by IAW&A veteran and Madden’s dad, John McDonagh.

thom ros

Thom Molyneaux and Rosina Fernhoff

Thom Molyneaux raves that Rosina Fernhoff  “rocked the house” in a scene from Re-Wrighting the Creeping Venomed Spider King, Thom’s play about Shakespeare and the writing of his early masterpiece Richard III. As Queen Elizabeth, she was “…bright, witty, vulnerable and powerful with a spine of steel…” and had a theatricality that embodied the script. Thom and Rosina thank our IAW&A audience for its “support, warmth and exciting response.”


Madeline Artenberg

Madeline Artenberg presented three dramatically visual and moving poems with the underlying theme of the spoken and unspoken. They were: “From Nothing, about a father’s immigration to Ellis Island.  In “Rock Chick Sonata,” a mother’s lost dream has consequences for a daughter. In  “First Date,”  an innocent teenager is filled with angst, curiosity and hope on a first date in Coney Island.

tom sheila

Sheila Walsh, Sarah Fearon, and Tom Mahon,

Tom Mahon, Sarah Fearon and Sheila Walsh showed their comic chops in Sheila’s short play Birdie and Sue. Tom and Sheila, played the fantastical couple of the title, and Sarah, their perplexed friend. You’ll be able to see it in a program of one-act plays, Lost and Found.  We’ll announce the reading date.


Kathleen O’Sullivan

osull ireland

Kathleen O’Sullivan has been sharing her video autobiography-in-progress, “From Ireland to Isham Street” and it promises to be a lyrical account of her coming-of-age. The segment she showed tonight introduces the O’Sullivan family and their ancestral island in the West of Ireland. Her parents emigrated to America and eventually settled in Northern Manhattan, where the river and rocky cliffs reminded them of home.


Jon Gordon

Struck by John Kearns’s reading from IAW&A’s mission statement, jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon told the story of a particular moment in music history that brought together geniuses of different origins: Nat King Cole’s recording of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” in an arrangement by Italian- born Pete Rugolo. Jon read the lyrics of the brilliant song and then, played it on his sax, brilliantly.

derek play

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy gave great comic performances as the Kelly women in a scene from Derek Murphy’s dark comedy Dyin’ For It. Gathered around the bedside of the supposedly dying patriarch, the alarmed family realizes he might be showing ever-so-slight signs of recovery. If the Kelly women don’t kill each other first, they may have to put an end to the despicable Wally Kelly themselves, and before Christmas.


Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer’s very funny story addresses the question of whether aspiring writers should get an MFA or just go live in New York. Perhaps thinking about Malachy McCourt’s new book, Brent suggests a novel idea: a combined cemetery plot and writing program for, well, dead writers. Brent calls it: “MFA or NYC: Post Mortem Program to Have Scribes Knock Knock Knocking at the Gate of Heaven.”


Sheryl Helene Simler

Sheryl Helene Simler, poet, singer, dramatist, artist, demonstrated two of her talents by reading two original haiku, and singing, a cappella, two blues songs, including “Baby, Please Don’t Go.”


Miranda J. Stinson’s

We heard another humorous take on an aspect of dying in Miranda J. Stinson’s poem “The Men of Mortuaries Calendar.” Miranda read two beautiful poems, “Ghazal,” inspired by Maryam Alikhani’s reading at the immigration salon and “Belfast Nights,” perhaps inspired by the year she lived in Ireland.


John Kearns

John Kearns’s “Overture on Anger and Forgiveness” introduces the final section of his novel in progress Worlds. Using phrases and clauses from the section it introduces, the Overture mixes words of anger and forgiveness in a non-narrative musical way.


Don Meade

Ending the night with even more music, trad music star and expert Don Meade brought his tenor guitar and played Irish and Appalachian tunes and entertained us with an Irish music hall song, “The Mice Are at It Again.”


Don’t miss the next one, Thursday, September 7, 7 pm, Bar Thalia.




August 8, 2017

IAW&A Salon to Perform at Ireland’s Electric Picnic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:15 pm

The Irish American Writers and Artists Inc. (IAW&A) Salon is going to Ireland for the first time!

IAW&A members will be performing two mini-salons in the Literary Tent at the Electric Picnic in County Laois, Ireland. The preeminent arts and music festival, now in its 13th year, is being held at Stradbally Hall from September 1st through 3rd.

According to the Electric Picnic website:

Set among the ancient trees on the lawns of Stradbally Hall you’ll find an oasis of literary readings, political debate, performance poetry, science experiments, inspiring talks, news quizzes, public conversations and much more.”

How did this happen?

It all started when Electric Picnic organizer Marty Mulligan attended an IAW&A Salon in the fall of 2016.  He was so impressed with what he saw, he offered the salon time slots at his festival along with accommodations and spending money.   It was up to IAW&A to obtain funding for air fares.

Thanks to the generosity of the Irish Consulate, the IAW&A received the travel funding in mid-July.  And so began the necessarily short process of selecting presenters for the Electric Picnic salons.

The IAW&A Board of Directors and Salon Committee nominated and voted on many talented artists and the following were selected to represent work developed at the salon during its first six years, ranging from plays to novels to comedy:

  1. John McDonagh – Cabtivist — developed and presented entirely at the salon
  2. Sarah Fearon – TED Talks NYC – based on comedy material developed and presented at the salon
  3. Kathleen Donohoe — Ashes of Fiery Weather – board member/salon presenter who obtained a book contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  4. Maria Deasy (with Dublin-based Sarah Lafferty) in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It — developed and presented entirely at the salon.

IAW&A Salon producer John Kearns will act as host and round out the mini-salons with some poetry.

The IAW&A Board also voted to fly Derek Murphy to Ireland so that he can see his work performed.

IAW&A thanks the Electric Picnic and the Irish Consulate for making this possible.  We hope this will be the first of many salons in Ireland and that many more of our salon presenters will be able to share their work in the Emerald Isle in the coming years.

John McDonagh’s Cabtivist
Sarah Fearon’s Ted Talks NYC
sarah maria
Sarah Lafferty and Maria Deasy in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It
Kathleen Donohoe
John Kearns

derekDerek Murphy


8.3.17 IAW&A Salon: Sweet Summer Sounds and Heart-Rending Poems

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 3:35 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by John A. Brennan

The first August IAW&A Salon began with the sweet summery tone of Annalisa Chamberlin and after poets, actors and fiction writers, ended with Guenevere Donohue performing a poem and song that gave one salon goer “chills.” Three first time presenters appeared on the program, and we’re thrilled to have Malachy McCourt (and family) back at Bar Thalia after a short absence.


Annalisa Chamberlin, accompanied on acoustic guitar by host and Salon producer John Kearns, performed two songs from their set at the Live and Local event at the Rockaways last weekend. They were the American songbook classic, “Lullaby of Birdland” and Stephen Sondheim’s “The Girls of Summer.”

Annalisa, at left, will appear at the Cry Havoc Company’s (she is a proud resident artist) workshop of five original 10-minute plays this weekend on Governors Island’s Nolan Park, Building 11. Hop on the ferry for an entertaining afternoon on Saturday, August 12 at 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm and Sunday, August 13 at 1:30 pm.  Details at

Obie award winning actor Rosina Fernhoff mesmerized the audience with a short monologue from South African playwright Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca. Based on the story of artist Helen Martins, the play explores the passion to create regardless of the struggle, in this instance, apartheid. Rosina notes that Martins’ sculpture gardens can still be seen in the Karoo area of South Africa. Rosina performed “A Letter to the President” from Tony Kushner’s first play, A Bright Room Called Day, written in the Bush era, and appropriate in Trump era.

Rosina Fernhoff, Tom Mahon

In Tom Mahon’s evocative story “Rose Marie Kelly,” an 11-year old boy discovers a small cemetery on his family’s farm and finds a tombstone of a girl who died in 1897 at age 12. Startled by how young she was, he prays to her and her ghost appears. The ghost promises to grant his wishes, if he visits on her birthday every year. And he does for twenty-five years, receiving all he needs and most of what he wants.
Reading for the first time at the IAW&A Salon (and for the first time anywhere!),Caroline McEvoy shared a short story exploring the relationship between a young Irish immigrant working as a waitress in Manhattan and her recently deceased relative, who also had lived in America as a young woman during the 1950’s. Originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland, Caroline, a graduate of University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, has been working at HBO in New York since January. She has been writing fiction for years. More of her stories at

Caroline McEvoy, left, Sarah Fearon

Comedy performer, writer and IAW&A Board member Sarah Fearon is taking up the ukulele, which she played and sang for the first time at the Salon. Her choices were “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer and the Irish folk ballad “The Fields of Athenry” to which the audience sang along. The fearless Sarah notes that the warm Salon audiences encourage members to try something new or “go out on a ledge.”

DSC08936.JPG Arianne Hutch

Arianne Hutch, an actor from Ireland, now living here and working in theater production, also appreciated the encouraging atmosphere. Making her salon debut with a piece from her one-woman-show-in-progress, High Heels Are Not My Friend, Arianne says that the group’s positive feedback gave her a confidence boost and she’ll be back with more.

2017-08-04 00.17.18.jpgMalachy McCourt, center, surrounded by the night’s presenters 

Malachy McCourt is one man you can’t keep down. After a brief absence from the salon, he came roaring back in great form with some jokes (Hear the one about the dyslexic atheist?), comments about the indignities of aging and his trademark smile and a song. Speaking for all of us, John Brennan called him a “joy and inspiration.”


DSC08932Three poets presented work in their distinct voices. John A. Brennan’s “The Smith” pictures the nightmare a blacksmith endures in the pursuit of his creations. “Early Morning” recalls time on the shores of Lough Ross, near his native village of Crossmaglen, where Turloch O’Neill met in secret with his loyal followers. Rev. Anoek van Praag, a Salon first timer, an accomplished and multi-lingual poet, read in Italian and English, about the beauty of a small Italian town and the cruelty of what happens behind closed doors. Her other poem, in French and English, spoke of the desire to let go of the past hurts and become Love. Bernadette Cullen shared a work-in progress evoking the gorgeous colors of “Cezanne’s Palette.”                                          John Brennan, at right,  photo by Guen Donohue.

Anoek van Praag, left, Bernadette Cullen 



In Guenevere Donohue’s closing piece about immigrants, she read a heart-breaking excerpt of Kenyan-born, Somali poet Warsan Shire’s “Home.”

It includes

No one would put their children in a boat

unless the water

was safer than the land.

Guen rendered The Pouges’ song “Thousands Are Sailing” in a plaintive style with Irish keening. John Kearns accompanied her on the guitar, just as  he had started the night.                                                Guenevere Donohue          

See you next time, Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm at The Cell.









July 24, 2017

7.18.17 IAW&A SALON: A Melting Pot of Talent Served Up at The Cell Theatre

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 1:47 am

By Maureen Hossbacher

Photos by Christopher Booth

A song in Gaelic was the fitting start to a special IAW&A Salon with an immigration theme. Dubliner Ailbhe Fitzpatrick charmed the audience with a sweet, a cappella version of “Baidín Fhéilimi,” an old Irish song about a boat that goes out to sea never to return, which her mother used to sing to young Ailbhe at bedtime.


Ailbhe Fitzpatrick

The salon was curated and hosted by IAW&A Board Members Brendan Costello and Karen Daly who put together an amazing evening in keeping with the expansive goals expressed in IAW&A’s mission statement, which in part defines the organization as “a force for inter-ethnic and interracial solidarity, understanding and active cooperation.”


Brendan Costello

Our understanding of the complexities of West African immigration to the U.S. was greatly enhanced by the fascinating presentation of Lawrence Harding, a Sierra Leonean from Freetown who, aided by storyboards and some mood music provided by host/DJ Costello, used his family history as illustration. Harding, a physical therapist, is also an accomplished dancer with the Brooklyn-based Fist and Heel Company, whose works draw from the traditions of Africa and its Diaspora.


Lawrence Harding

Akram Alkatreb has worked as an art critic and journalist, contributing to many major newspapers in Lebanon, London and Syria. He was born and raised in Salamiah, Syria, a city renowned for its poets, and has published six collections of poetry in Arabic. The poignant work he shared at the Salon spoke of war, love, and yearning for what has been lost:

Maybe we can meet, by chance, in a history book

that praises the kings of the Stone Age.

You’re losing birds, soul, trees

and mother tongue.

Do you know how much we love you?


Akram Alkatreb

More than a year since his last reading at our Salon, IAW&A board member Sean Carlson returned to the Cell Theatre fresh off a 2016-2017 fellowship at the Writers’ Institute at the City University of New York. Reading from the manuscript of his first book, a yet-untitled nonfictional narrative of departure and arrival, Carlson shared a humorous and moving excerpt that explored the role of groceries in the immigrant experience: the day Aunt Eileen boiled the watermelon in the turkey roasting pan.


Sean Carlson

After providing some unobtrusive but atmospheric noodling on his guitar as background music for the last two readers, the gifted young musician from Buenos Aires, Omar Haddad, took center stage and morphed into his rock n’ roll persona to perform “ Downside Up,” a rousing song of his own composition. A guitarist, singer-songwriter, violinist and front man for his band “THIS,” Haddad’s influences include jazz, rock, pop, Latin and classical – and he can do it all!


Omar Haddad

After a break for a little imbibing and socializing, Ailbhe Fitzpatrick returned to kick off the second half of the Salon with her stirring interpretation of the well-known Irish love song, “Raglan Road.” The versatile Fitzpatrick is also a music producer, pianist and award-winning documentary filmmaker.


Karen Daly

Poet William Leo Coakley prefaced his performance by reminding us that the song we just heard was written by Patrick Kavanagh, whose masterpiece “The Great Hunger” described the famine that brought so many Irish to America, and by commenting that our nation of immigrants now has a government liable to harm rather than help refugees. His poems focused on their plight: the perilous voyage of Syrians to the island of Lesbos; the trauma of Palestinians, refugees in their own illegally occupied country. His final poem, which appears in the current issue of the Irish magazine Cyphers, was about our exiled ancestors, who rarely returned to the homeland except for a visit. A Bostonian and now also an Irish citizen, Coakley recently returned from London, where he read at a Poetry Society benefit for Doctors Without Borders.


William Leo Coakley

Next up was Virginia Vasquez, a Puerto Rican writer and artist based in New York City who performed “Seeing Red,” a lyrical essay inspired by the 2016 presidential election. The piece, which expounds on the painful implications of racism in America, forewarns: “The truth was televised and is coming for all of us.” Vasquez is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at CCNY, where she also serves as Vice President of the MFA Reading Series.

Maryam Alikhani’s magnetic presentation of several of her poems intertwined words from other languages with English, like patterns woven from colorful strings into Persian rugs. One recalled the “heart of science” of her homeland, Iran; another the significance of trees in our lives. All reminded us that languages can be bridges instead of barriers. Alikhani teaches English at CCNY and is a doctoral candidate at Teachers College of Columbia University.


Maryam Alikhani

DSC_0105To bring the evening to a close, guitarist Omar Haddad, at right, who had generously provided background music for most presenters, served up a virtuoso interpretation of “Danny Boy.” His dexterity and impeccable technique made his performance a treat to watch as much as listen to –a stunning finale!

As the crowd happily dawdled before dispersing, the joy and fellowship in the air was palpable. Reflecting on the evening, first-time presenter Lawrence Harding commented in a post-salon email: “Our stories, while different, really brought home to me the confirmation that the drive that brought us to America is real and cannot be diminished by a political manipulation, xenophobia or “isms” of any kind.”

Mission accomplished.

The next IAW&A Salon will be at Bar Thalia at Symphony Space at 95th Street and Broadway, on Thursday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m.










July 13, 2017

7-6-17 IAW&A Salon Begins Its 7th Year at Bar Thalia with Drama, Fiction, Song, & Tributes to a Friend Taken Too Soon

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:31 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Gordon Gilbert

The IAW&A Salon, which started at Bar Thalia in June 2011, began its seventh year at the Symphony-Space cafe on July 6th with an evening featuring plenty of drama as well as poetry, fiction, and song.  It even included the presentation of this year’s McCourt Awards to recent graduates from the Frank McCourt High School.

Sadly George Kornienko, bartender and part of owner of Rocky Sullivan’s and Marty O’Brien’s pubs, passed away on the same day as our salon. So, we dedicated the evening’s session to him.  George was a spirited and energetic man who supported writers and musicians and made everyone feel welcome.  He touched many lives.

1b Mary Courtney

Mary Courtney

Singer and musician Mary Courtney kicked off the salon playing guitar and singing “Mandela,” a favorite of George Kornienko’s.  For her second song, “Saoirse” (Freedom), she accompanied herself on bodhran.  To conclude her set, Mary put down her instruments and performed in the sean nos style a rousing rendition of “Irish Ways and Irish Laws.”  Mary performs every Friday night at An Beal Bocht in the Bronx.

2 Maria DeasyMaria Deasy

Opal Taylor-Besson and Rob Hille performed a scene from “Mine” by Maria Deasy.  Opal is Rebecca, a Manhattan paralegal, who learns of an explosion in one of her client’s West Virginia mines, trapping 8 miners underground. Rob plays Tom, her paralawful paramour.  As rescue teams attempt to bring miners home alive under media scrutiny, Rebecca embarks on a journey that questions Tom and everything about the world around her. What is the distance between those who push paper and those who dig deep?


Opal Taylor-Besson and Rob Hille

“Mine” embarks on its journey on: July 31st / 4 pm,  August 2nd / 7:30 pm, and August 5th / 3:30 pm. Purchase tickets.   Help us bring “Mine” to life!  Contribute here.

4 Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert read a series of short poetic monologues from an
as-yet-unpublished book entitled Noir Cityscapes – voices of those New Yorkers,
human and otherwise, who live by night.

5a Thomas MolyneauxThom Molyneaux

Thom Molyneaux introduced us to Old John from his play about Shakespeare and  the making of Richard the Third  “Re’Wrighting  the Creeping Venomed Spider King.”  In a monologue Old John  wryly and  dramatically recounts the famous Battle of Bosworth Field which proves the story of the evil murderous Richard is a lie and that if they want to “cover the seats in the theater with arses” they’d best play the lie not the truth.

6 John McDonaghJohn McDonagh

John McDonagh tried out some new cabbie stories about passengers heading to the hospital. He will be using his new material in his one man play Cabtivist at his next performance Wed July 19 at the Payomet performing arts center in Truro Cape Cod.

7 Brendan Costello & 2 award recipients

Each year the IAW&A awards graduating seniors from the Frank McCourt High School who show promise in writing with our McCourt Award.  Just before the break Brendan Costello presented checks to this year’s recipients Lajiere Blake and Katie McCarthy.  

After the break, I was very pleased to have actors Maria Deasy, Annalisa Chamberlin, Jack DiMonte, and Mark Butler read an excerpt from my novel, Worlds.  Near the end of the novel, Paul Logan, Laura, and Gavin make it to Broadway in Times Square.  With a parody of Broadway playbills and poetic descriptions of the lights of Times Square, the excerpt brings Irish nationalist Paul to the corner where he will be dropped off and where he learns that Laura is the daughter of a Northern Irish Protestant.

8 readers for John Kearn's novel

Mark Butler, Jack DiMonte, Annalisa Chamberlin, and Maria Deasy

Rosina Fernhof read Jenifer Margaret Kelly’s “Creative Writing 101”- a short fiction piece based on a young girl’s experiences in a Creative Writing class in a late-1960s Miami Catholic Girls School.  The work portrays how the young girl came to the writer’s life, the places it took her, and the things it saved her from.

9e Rosina Fernhoff

Rosina Fernhof

Salon regular, novelist and short story writer, Kevin R. McPartland read from a new chapter of his novel in progress entitled, Brooklyn Rhapsody.  In the chapter we encounter a lone stranger, deeply disturbed by his war experiences and convinced he must find a member of a local Brooklyn American Legion Post before night’s end. All in attendance agreed that Kevin has something in the fire with this novel for sure.

a10 Kevin McPartland

Kevin R. McPartland

John Brennan read two original pieces “The Flawed Mortal” an homage to the great Russian author, physician, and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov and “Oliver” telling how Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh gave aid to Bishop Oliver Plunkett and his close friend John Brennan, Bishop of Cashel. when they were on the run in South Armagh.

a12b John Brennan

John Brennan

Brent Shearer, who read a short story called “Miriam’s Martini,” runs “In the Front Row, On the Dole,” the only NYC readings blog that tells authors when they have droned on too long by use of our exclusive Drone-On-Meter.

a11 Brent Shearer.jpg

Brent Shearer

Annalisa Chamberlin sang two songs, accompanied by John Kearns on guitar.  The first song, which she learned from her grandfather named George, was the folk song, “Where the Honey Wind Blows,” recorded by the Brothers Four.  Annalisa’s second song, a stirring rendition of “With or Without You” marked the 30th anniversary of U2’s Joshua Tree album and the band’s recent performances in the New York area.

Annalisa Chamberlin and John Kearns

Join us at our next salon at the Cell on Tuesday July 18th for an evening on the theme of immigration to the US from Ireland and around the world.  Curated and hosted by Karen Daly and Brendan Costello, the event promises to be an evening to remember!  Here is the 2017 Salon schedule: 

See you there!

June 25, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 6:08 pm

By Maureen Hossbacher

Photos by Cat Dwyer

DSC_0729.jpgSalon stars line up at the night’s end

It has been a privilege and pleasure to watch the development of Derek Murphy’s play, Dyin’ For It, at our Salons. It has also been great fun, as evidenced by the torrent of laughter at The Cell on Tuesday night. The scene was brilliantly played by Maria Deasy and Aoife Williamson as mother and daughter trying their best to grieve for the man of the house who is taking his sweet time dying in the best bedroom upstairs. According to Derek, the play is finished, and we look forward to seeing a full production.

DSC_0668.jpgMaria Deasy,  left, Aoife Williamson with Derek Murphy

Plenty of drama and surprises transpired, as the Salon welcomed several new presenters as well as regulars, all of whom electrified a delighted audience. First-timer Katharine McNair started things off with a trilogy of brief scenes from her comedy, The Traveling Irish, set in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans, in which actors Sophia Romma and Jason Okanlawan conveyed the fraught romantic relationship between coworkers at a college. A poet and emerging playwright and screenwriter, McNair currently teaches at Fordham University. Her poetry and children’s literature have been published online and in print.


Jason Okanlawan and Sophia Romma


Next was the riveting debut performance of Leilani McInerney, (pictured at right) who chose our Salon to kickstart her return to the stage after an interlude of child rearing and teaching. Her original monologue, in the character of a slightly unhinged lady with pyromaniacal tendencies, was a gem. (When she lit that match I don’t mind telling you I was a little uneasy). The former Leilani Johnson has performed in regional theatre, in the Fantastiks in NYC and the Amato Opera Company in Brooklyn. As her first name suggests, she was born in Hawaii, which as far as we know Donald Trump has not contested.

Yet another newcomer to the Salon, Sheryl Simler, then took the stage to perform a monologue from her original work, Inside the Blessing Jar — as the character Simca, who has left behind the life of a Hasidic housewife to pursue her artistic dreams. For a finale, Sheryl charmed us with a little ditty she wrote about “John, handsome in his hat.”

DSC_0625   Sheryl Simler

John Kearns (hatless) read an excerpt from near the end of his novel in progress, Worlds. As Laura and the Englishman Gavin drop off Paul Logan in Times Square, Paul is surprised to learn that Laura’s father is from Northern Ireland and that her last name is Maze, like the famous prison. When Paul gets out of the car, he is shocked to hear that Laura is headed back downtown, where they had started hours before, so that Gavin can catch the Staten Island Ferry.  “Sorry, Paul,” the barmaid says, “if you only had an accent…” John recently returned from Ireland where he didn’t pick up an accent but where his play, Sons of Molly Maguire, had a successful run in Dublin.

DSC_0637  John Kearns

As MC for the evening, Kearns segued by introducing Mark Bulik, a senior editor at The New York Times, who read from the first chapter of his book, The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America’s First Labor War.   Bulik’s book explores the origins of the violent secret society that fought on behalf of Ireland’s starving peasantry during the Great Famine, then re-emerged in the Pennsylvania coal fields to battle the all-powerful mining companies, giving America its first taste of class warfare. Dublin Review of Books hailed the history as a “milestone.”

Mark Bulik, left and with Geraldine McCleary, visiting from Co. Monaghan

Monologist, playwright and poet Gordon Gilbert, a frequent presenter, shared three poems that turned our summertime fancies to thoughts of love in the Big Apple, a metropolis where many a potential couple, alas, have ended up “parallel lines that never met.” That sad fate was not Gordon’s, however, a well known denizen of the West Village, where he has lived and loved, and where he shares his life with Mary Jane, the audience member to whom the final poem was dedicated on her birthday.

Gordon Gilbert, left, Tom Mahon

Another regular, Tom Mahon, with his usual verve, delivered an excerpt from his short story, “Going After Bigfoot”. Two brothers-in-law pursue Warren Nelson, alias Bigfoot, a 300 lb. muscle-bound vet with four tours in Iraq. Nelson has stolen $25 K from his father-in-law and there is a reward for his capture. The narrator, who has never held a gun, is skeptical of his brother-in-law’s schemes, though the brother-in-law is confident because he can’t think beyond what he wants. To be continued . . .


Rosina Fernoff

Demonstrating what happens when exquisite acting meets exquisite writing, veteran actress Rosina Fernhoff brought the house down with her tour de force rendering of playwright Jenifer Margaret Kelly’s monologue, “Antibodies”, a stand-alone piece from a larger collaborative work entitled The Body. Kelly’s play, My Brooklyn, was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Conference this summer. Fernhoff, an Obie winner, performs frequently at the “Actors Chapel Presents” readings of plays at St. Malachy’s Church on West 49th Street.

DSC_0725.jpgAnalisa Chamberlain, accompanied by John Kearns

The Salon was brought to a lovely close by actress/singer Analisa Chamberlin’s rendition of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, accompanied on guitar by John Kearns. The coda of a perfect evening, it left us wanting more, more, more.

The next IAW&A Salon will be at Bar Thalia, at 95th Street & Broadway, on Thursday, July 6, at 7:00 p.m.

















June 8, 2017

6.1.17 IN THE COMPANY OF ACCLAIMED AUTHOR MARY GORDON — IAW&A and AIHS sponsor talk and reception

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 7:24 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Christopher Booth

DSC_0087.JPGMary Gordon

IAW&A’s first joint program with the American Irish Historical Society featured the renowned novelist Mary Gordon in conversation with Mary Pat Kelly, on the release of Gordon’s novel, There Your Heart Lies, just published by Pantheon. Described as “historically [and] emotionally satisfying,” the story deals with an American woman’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War and its influence on her granddaughter’s life.

AIHS’ genial chairman Brian McCabe welcomed the audience to its elegant 120-year-old headquarters on Fifth Avenue. He offered guests a special keepsake: a 1995 issue of the Society’s former journal, The Recorder, that contained an original Mary Gordon story about her Irish-born grandmother.


DSC_0075.jpgBrian McCabe welcomes the group to AIHS


As Lauren Bufferd notes in BookPage, “Mary Gordon has been writing compelling books about faith, love and family for four decades.” And many of us who have admired her work for decades turned out to meet her.

Introducing her friend and fellow novelist, IAW&A vice-president Mary Pat Kelly observed that Gordon’s first book Final Payments in 1978 was the first to give voice to “our experience,” meaning the inner lives of Irish Catholic raised women. Many of the women in the audience seemed to concur.

In a distinguished career since publishing Final Payments, Mary Gordon has produced several important, critically praised novels including The Company of Women and Pearl. Among her nonfiction works are the memoirs Circling My Mother and The Shadow Man and an award-winning biography of Joan of Arc. A professor of literature at Barnard, she’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an O. Henry Award, an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and The Story Prize.

DSC_0085 (2).JPGMary Pat Kelly, left.  Mary Gordon

In a wide-ranging conversation, she talked about why she chose to write about the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930’s. The book has contemporary setting, with the character, at the end of her life, revealing the full story of hardships she endured during her time in Spain. Mary Gordon said she was “brought up in conservative Irish Catholic 1950’s New York in a family who believed that Franco had saved the world for the Catholic Church.” When she went to Columbia in the late 60’s, she found a very different interpretation, “that Franco had blood on his hands.” Gordon wanted to present “the unglamorous side of war” instead of the glorification seen in such writers as Hemingway and Orwell.

Writers in the audience were full of questions about Gordon’s research and writing process. For this novel, she undertook deep research and read widely to supply the history and to look for unexpected details. As an example, she discovered a little known fact that NY fur trade workers supplied fur coats to women participants in the Spanish Civil War. Remarkably, an audience member had grown up hearing the story through her own family.

As far as process, Gordon writes with a fountain pen and notebook, finding satisfaction in the motion and rhythmicality of writing. And yes, she writes every day, saying the “business of writing is being there; it’s not what you produce.” Gordon tells her Barnard students, “An imperfect something is better than a perfect nothing.”

Gordon was eloquent in reply to a question was about the role of shame in Catholicism, admitting its power and that in her experience, shame was often a default setting.

Mary Pat Kelly reminded us of Gordon’s wonderful storytelling ability and the book’s emphasis on women’s lives. One reviewer says,

“There Your Heart Lies depicts pleasure in the loving bonds between generations and in acts of generosity and selflessness between friends…”


We’re grateful to Mary Gordon for her generous conversation this night, and for her esteemed body of work. You may want to go and read them all. You can find the new book at Amazon or indie

Special thanks to the night’s organizers:

Brian McCabe and Sophie Colgan at AIHS

IAW&A’s Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy and Mary Pat Kelly




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