Irish American Writers & Artists

May 10, 2016

5.5.16 IAW&A Salon: Festive “Cinco de County Mayo” night with stories “meaningful and profound”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 6:15 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

catseyepix-5115.jpg Sarah Fearon welcomes the crowd

Sarah Fearon warmed up the crowd with comedy on that special night she dubbed “Cinco de County Mayo.” Sarah produced and hosted an IAW&A Salon with a heartfelt vibe and amazing connections. Jon Gordon called the night “meaningful and profound.” We had several first time presenters, and unique offerings that included storytelling, poetry, memoir and photography.

Singer/songwriter Andrea Wright opened each half of the program with original songs from her two EP’s Riverside and Buoy Lights, both with autobiographical lyrics. An accomplished musician with a versatile voice, Andrea has performed worldwide. She studied piano at Interlochen Arts Academy and learned guitar from jazz and pop musicians in the city. http://www.andreawrightmusic.com

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Writer, actress, comedienne and activist and new IAW&A member Marian Fontana read a wonderfully moving story about bringing her husband’s ashes to Ireland. Marion’s memoir is the widely praised A Widow’s Walk and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Salon.com and The Guardian. She is currently filming a web series and creating a one-woman show. Marianfontana.com

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We welcomed Ira Goldstein, poet and family therapist, who read his work. Ira is also Marian’s dad.

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Retired Police Captain Rita Mullaney served on the NYPD for 24 years. The Bay Ridge native crossed the bridge to walk a beat in Chelsea where she was drawn into the daily human drama. As she watched the neighborhood changing, she started to document the stories of the older residents through photography and video. Tonight Rita showed several photographs and told the stories behind them, revealing her compassion along with her skill.

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Jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon entertained with stories from his work-in-progress, Jazz Lives. Jon was just starting out but found himself travelling and partying with legends Cab Calloway and Doc Cheatham. In a sweet, revealing anecdote, Jon told how he helped an 83 year-old woman fulfill her dream of playing “Amazing Grace.”
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Jim Rodgers read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End.  Johnny Gunn, grieving over the tragic loss of his son, and recently his friend Jimmy, is back doing weekend gigs with his over-the-hill rock band.  Tonight they play in Sunnyside, Queens before a raucous crowd, where Johnny spots the voluptuous Molly Farrell, a woman destined to own his soul. Tonight he refuses to avoid her gaze and later, when the gig ends, he finds himself with Molly in an emotional hurricane, one which draws both of them toward her apartment and the inevitable sin he’s been avoiding.

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Sean Hickey shared three original poems, including “Requiem for a Crow,” an account of what he describes as “the genuinely moving mourning I witnessed one crow doing over the fallen body of another.”

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Sean announced the third annual Bergen County Irish Festival on Saturday, June 25th, at Overpeck County Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. The festival’s Literature Tent will be open from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

Sign up: IAW&A members are invited to sign up to read or perform at the Bergen County Irish Festival. You may have a 10-minute slot to present your work, or a 15-minute slot to present your work and that of a favorite Irish or Irish-American author or artist. Readings and performances should relate to Ireland or the Irish/Irish-American experience, and they should be suitable for a general audience. Presenters will be able to display and sell books, CDs, and other works in the tent. If you are interested in presenting at the festival, please contact Sean Hickey at sean.hickey2@gmail.com.

Inspired by the commemorative events of the 1916 Easter Rising, Guen Donohue wondered what events would mark each day an Irish leader of the Rising was executed. Finding none, Guen decided to hold her own Impromptu Memorials at The Irish Hunger Memorial. Those early mornings found Guen singing to the stones of Ireland in Irish, and speaking about the men who died. For us, she sang Patrick Pearse’s words, Mise Éire, set to music by Patrick Cassidy.

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Tom Mahon’s vignettes often have a dramatic, twisting end.  “The Bridge Tender’s Wife” tells of a woman whose husband sees her on a sailboat with four men.  That night he tricks her into confirming that she had sex with three men. It was the second time he had married her, and the last.

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Pat Lavin read a moving personal essay about her daughter and her daughter’s fiancé.

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Malachy McCourt traditionally closes the Salon at Bar Thalia, and he remarked on what a special night we had. Of course, he had a few remarks about politics and history and ended with a Famine Song.

Oh, the praties they grow small over here, over here

Oh, the praties they grow small, and we dig them in the fall

And we eat them, skin and all, over here, over here, over here.

catseyepix-5225.jpgMalachy McCourt,  “Sing the song, children!”

See you next time, Tuesday, May 17, The Cell.

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2016

4.24.16 Cat Dwyer’s Photos of IAW&A Mini-Salon at “Welcoming Ireland” 1916 Commemoration

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:42 pm

Enjoy Cat Dwyer’s beautiful photos of Pier A Harbor House and the IAW&A Mini-Salon at New York City’s “Welcoming Ireland” commemoration of the Easter Rising centenary, on Sunday, April 24th! 

The IAW&A presented contemporary poetry, fiction, theatre, and song.  

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Enjoying the music sessions in the Oyster Bar: Guenevere Donohoe, John Kearns, Eamon Loingsigh, and stage manager Mark “Rock” Speeney

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Audience anticipating the mini IAW&A Salon

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John Kearns introducing IAW&A artists

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Marcia Loughran shared her poetry

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John Munnelly played 3 original songs. With bass player, Ray Parker.  John’s artwork in the background. 

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Guenevere Donohue performed an excerpt from her play, Killer Is My Name

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Malachy McCourt read an excerpt from John Kearns’s novel in progress, Worlds, about crossing Killary Harbor and the Atlantic

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Malachy McCourt will receive the 2016 Eugene O’Neill Award on October 17th! 

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“Sing the song, children.  ‘And we’ll all go together/To pluck wild mountain thyme ..'”

April 26, 2016

4.19.16 IAW&A Salon: Observing the 1916 Easter Rising in IAW&A Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:50 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer  

On April 19, 2016, we marked the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising IAW&A style — with a rousing, often affecting night of poetry, song, drama and story. John Kearns curated and hosted the Salon dedicated to the centenary at The Cell Theatre.

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Consul General of Ireland, Barbara Jones

We were especially honored to welcome Barbara Jones, Consul General of Ireland, to her first IAW&A Salon. Ms. Jones graciously thanked the writers, curators, dancers, and all the artists who help create context for this historical moment. And we thank Consul Jones, and her colleagues at the Consulate of Ireland in New York for their kind support of IAW&A.

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Maria Deasy and Maura Mulligan

Maria Deasy and Maura Mulligan opened the Salon with a powerful reading of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic in Irish and English. Mingling languages and strong voices, they represented Irish and Irish-American participants in the Rising and honored the native language of the newly formed Republic. Noting that the Proclamation is the only declaration of independence to address both men and women in equal measure, Maria and Maura called to mind the many unsung female heroes of the Easter Rising.

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Mary Pat Kelly

Mary Pat Kelly, just back from Dublin, reported that women’s participation in the Rising is finally being celebrated. Mary Pat’s latest novel Of Irish Blood features a young Nora Kelly, in Paris in the early 1900’s, meeting historical characters such as Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats and Countess Markievicz. The revolutionary women challenge Nora to honor her history and join the struggle to free Ireland. Of Irish Blood was inspired by the life of Mary Pat’s great-aunt.

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Maura Mulligan

Presenters honored the poets and patriots of 1916, starting with Maura Mulligan’s performance of Padraig Pearse’s “Bean Sléibhe ag Caoineamn a Mic” (“A Woman of the Mountain Keens Her Son”). Blessing the green sods covering her son’s body, Maura exuded the mountain woman’s strength and acceptance of a death that “cannot be denied.”

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Eamon Loingsigh

Novelist Eamon Loingsigh read Pearse’s poem “The Rebel.” For Eamon’s eloquent analysis of Pearse, go to artofneed.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/patrick-pearse-poet.

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Tim Dwyer

Tim Dwyer read his own work reflecting on the losses of Easter Week, including “Cherishing All the Children.” Tim’s poem “First Martyr, 1916 –Francis Sheehy Skeffington” was published in the Easter Rising issue of the Irish literary journal, Boyne Berries, which sold out in one week. Tim also sang a verse from the “Lament Of James Connolly” by Patrick Galvin. brennan

John A. Brennan

John A. Brennan read two tributes to the men and women of the Rising with the classic “Easter 1916” by William Butler Yeats and John’s own homage to Pearse, entitled “The Poet.” gordon

Gordon A. Gilbert

Imagining a new traditional Irish song, Gordon A. Gilbert recited the lyrics to his “No Hereafter – Easter 1916” which embodies the spirit of some Irish rebels.

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Gina Costigan

Dublin-born actor Gina Costigan performed a poignant soliloquy from Honor Molloy’s and in my heart, a story of love and loss during the 1916 Uprising. Gina was incandescent in her IAWA debut. A version of and in my heart will be performed in early May at the Dublin International Gay Theater Festival.

gina_honor Gina Costigan and playwright, Honor Molloy

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The convivial IAW&A Salon community enjoying the break

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Books for sale and refreshment available with donations

We may have brave men, but we’ll never have better
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men.”

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Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher performed a stirring rendition of “Down By the Glenside.” The song, written at the time of the Easter Rising by Peadar Kearney, who also wrote “The Soldier’s Song”, recalls the failed uprising of the Irish Republican Brotherhood or “bold Fenian men” which fueled the later revolution.

 

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Tom Phelan

County Laois-born novelist Tom Phelan presented an alternative perspective of the Rising, that of an Irish soldier after the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Tom notes that a quarter million Irish men served in the British Army during the First World War, and over 32,000 died.  Tom shared excerpts from The Canal Bridge, his acclaimed novel of Ireland and the Great War,

“Twenty-seven thousand men down in four hours, and we saying that the people in Dublin thought they had something to cry about with the twelve lads shot in Kilmainham. Twenty-seven thousand lying in the muck in front of us, many of them from Ireland, but all that Ireland could think of was twelve bastards who stabbed in the back every Irishman fighting against the Germans.” More about Tom and his works at www.tomphelan.net.

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IAW&A president Larry Kirwan also touched on the World War I, and described growing up in a Wexford family of mixed alliances. A great-uncle serving in the British Army was killed in Belgium in 1915, while Larry’s grandfather was a supporter of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  Much of his work has focused on historical events. Larry wrote the play Blood, about events leading up to the 1916 Uprising. He sang “Touched by Fire” a song he wrote and recorded with Black 47 about Countess Markievicz. And finished the night, with the Black 47 anthem “James Connolly.”

“ …a mighty man with a mad rage in his eye
They shot him in Kilmainham jail but they’ll never stop his cry
My name is James Connolly, I didn’t come here to die
But to fight for the rights of the working man…”

See you next time at Bar Thalia, Thursday, May 5! 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2016

4-7-16 IAW&A Salon: Tremendous Variety, Quality, and Spirit

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:32 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Tom Mahon

The first IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on April 7 gave attendees a tremendous night of quality and variety, not to mention free DVDs.  Thanks to the work of the Salon Committee, this salon was hosted by comedienne and IAW&A Secretary Sarah Fearon who kept a great humorous flow through the evening. 

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Symphony Space Artistic Director, Andrew Byrne

Symphony Space Artistic Director, Andrew Byrne welcomed the salon artists and audience as part of the Symphony Space family and congratulated us on approaching our fifth anniversary of salons at Bar Thalia (in June). 

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Sarah Fearon

Sarah Fearon opened the salon with material spoofing St Patrick’s Day, Easter, death, and taxes.

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Jenny Griffin
First-time presenter Jenny Griffin found the IAW&A salon crowd very welcoming and was delighted to meet Mr. Malachy McCourt in person.  The first poem Jenny read was “The Grass is Greener.”  She wrote it after spending Christmas back home in Ireland in 2015. It is nostalgic and a typical emigrant’s lament to home and the people there.  Her second poem was, “Up the West,” depicting childhood visits to her maternal grandparents’ home in the small village of Williamstown, Co.Galway.

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Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran shared a poem about spring funerals and the habits of the dying with the warm and welcoming IAW&A Salon audience.  

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Tom Mahon and Sheila Walsh

Playwright Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon presented Sheila’s play-in-progress, When Love Comes Tumbling Down, in which  a daughter’s wedding announcement exposes the regrets and longings in her parents’ long marriage. Playwright Walsh was delighted to be asked by several  members, “What happens next?”

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Mark Tompkins

Mark Tompkins read from his new Irish themed novel, The Last Days of Magic. Published by Viking Penguin, it is an epic tale of magic and mysticism, Celts and traitorous faeries, mad kings and exorcists, and a broken Goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost – medieval Ireland.

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Vivian O’Shaughnessy, poet, artist,  and translator, presented her latest dramatic monologue.  Her designed, authored , handmade books (which include translations and hand Braille) are in many collections.
    

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SundanceTV provided a ten-minute excerpt from its mini-series, Rebellion, debuting on April 24th, the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Audience members received free copies of the miniseries on DVD. 

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Bernard Smith

Dubliner Bernard Smith sang an original called, “Travel On,” about letting go a world he has little or no control over, taking a deep breath as it were.  He followed this with a sean nos song  called “The May Morning Dew.” It is an old Irish air set to a poem about an emigrant on in years remembering the old homestead and the things he saw and done as a child there.  The audience thoroughly enjoyed Bernard’s performance and we hope to see him at the salon more often.  

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IAW&A Board Members Kathleen Wash Darcy and Mark Butler, enjoying the break

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John McDonagh with his authentic New Zealand flag

John McDonagh told the hilarious story of his efforts to get a flag from New Zealand for a ceremony at his Uncle’s graveside in County Fermanagh.  John’s Uncle, Peter McDonagh, emigrated to New Zealand and joined the army during World War II, was a prisoner of war in North Africa, and wounded in Italy. The tale of the New Zealand government’s suggestion that John buy a flag from Amazon.com to commemorate their war hero was storytelling at its best.

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John Kearns

John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which older priest Sarsfield Logan, S.J., is up early one morning in the fall of 1945, writing in his journal. Sarsfield writes about his father’s prayer and work life – his ora et labora. He recalls a time when his father had promised to take him to a Phillies game only to come home too late … with a cigarette card bearing a photo of Sarsfield’s favorite player, Jack Clements.

Thanks to Sarah’s hosting John was able to focus on his own presentation more than usual and was gratified by the audience’s reaction to the story.  

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John Brennan

John Brennan read three poems.  The first, “To my Brother,” was written in Arbor Hill Barracks, Dublin May 1 1916 by Patrick H. Pearse for his brother Willie.  At the time of writing, Pearse was not aware that Willie was also to be executed.  He followed that with two of his own poems,  “The Meadow Ballet,” prompted by vivid memories of his father using a scythe and “The Bards of Croom,” telling the story of the  18th century Fil na Maigue Gaelic poets of Croom and Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

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Myss UneeK

Brooklyn poet Myss UneeK said she had a great time and learned a lot about the Irish culture. Myss UneeK presented an introduction poem she likes to use to give the audience a chance to get to know her, a sort of a breaking-the-ice poem. She followed tis with  a poem called, “Kids,” which Myss UneeK wrote for all the children in foster care. It’s a poem about the struggles she went through growing up in the NYC foster care system. In the poem, Myss UneeK describes how she survived and how she felt not having either of her parents around and losing her mother to the streets.

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Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt concluded the proceedings with his suggestion of an all-storytelling/no reading salon and a touching rendition of “Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men).”

See you soon at one of these upcoming IAW&A Salon events: 

April 13th: Come and network at the Irish Business Organization meeting at 6:30.  Three salon presentations (John Brennan, John Kearns, Ryan Cahill) will conclude the event at 8:30. Scandinavia House 58 Park Avenue, NY, NY. 

April 19th:  IAW&A Salon at the Cell focusing on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Presenters include Larry Kirwan, Mary Pat Kelly, Maureen Hossbacher, Honor Molloy, Maria Deasy, and Maura Mulligan.  Irish Consul General Barbara Jones is scheduled to attend. 

April 24th:  The Irish  Consulate’s “Welcoming Ireland” celebration of the 1916 centenary. At 5:30 on the third floor of Pier A Harbor House, we will have a mini-salon featuring Marcia Loughran, John Munnelly, Guenevere Donohue, and Malachy McCourt.    

March 22, 2016

3.15.16 IAW&A Salon: A grand event full of hilarity, poignancy and authentic Irish voices

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 7:22 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer 

No foreboding at the IAW&A Salon at the Cell on the Ides of March!

In the spirit of the month-long St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we had tremendous good cheer and our hallmark mix of talent and genres. We had music from history and new music and humor that was broad as well as humor that was black. And scenes from two plays, stories, fiction, memoir and, of course, poetry and song.

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IAW&A’s award for Organization of the Year from the Irish American Heritage Committee of the NYC Board of Education

The month of April will see many celebrations in remembrance of the Easter Rising of 1916. Salon producer and host John Kearns announced that the April Salon at the Cell will be built around 1916, and on Sunday, April 24, IAW&A will be part of the Irish American arts community event at Pier A Harbor House on the Battery. Details will be posted on https://www.facebook.com/IrishAmericanWritersAndArtistsInc  and in our IAW&A Weekly, iawaweekly@gmail.com

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Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill returned to Salon action with the short story “For Richer, For Poorer,” a departure from the mysteries he often does. Gary first presented it at the Bergen County New Jersey Irish Festival last June. A Robin Hood priest is in over his head with gambling debts, but friends do the right thing and bail him out. The action takes place during the May 2015 weekend when Ireland stuns the world and votes to legalize same-sex marriage. As Gary likes to say, “antics ensue.” Welcome back, Gary.

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Derek Murphy

Dublin-born playwright Derek Murphy presented another darkly funny scene from “Dyin’ For It.” Derek’s play is about the “extremely inappropriate grieving by the dying Wally Kelly’s wife and daughter.”

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Penny O’Brien and Karin de la Penha

Played perfectly by Karin de la Penha and Penny O’Brien, the women pose the big questions such as “Do we put the Christmas tree up or not?” and “Who’s dying next?” We’re eager to find out.

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Sean Carlson

With a nod to the migrant journeys of so many people today, IAW&A board member Sean Carlson shared an excerpt from his first book, a yet-untitled nonfiction narrative about emigration. Sean took us to the day his mother left home shortly before her seventeenth birthday, traveling across Ireland for the first time, boarding the ferry to Wales and arriving in London, only to realize all she had left behind. Sean’s reading tonight was made more poignant by the presence of his mother Nuala Sheehan Carlson in the audience.

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John Anthony Brennan

Armagh native John Anthony Brennan read two original poems to a rapt house. “The Poet’s Glen” pays tribute to the South Armagh Gaelic poets Art McCooey, Bard to the O’Neills, Padraig McAliondain and the outlaw poet, Seamus Mor MacMurphy. All are buried in the graveyard of Creggan Church near the family vault of seventy members of the O’Neil clan. John’s “The Poet” is a tribute to Padraig H. Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rebellion.

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David Nihill

Next, Dublin born, San Francisco resident David Nihill had us laughing in the aisles. To overcome his fear of public speaking, he decided to learn from the experts. So he left a business career to spend a year pretending to be a stand-up comedian, Irish Dave. The hilarious results of this experiment were on display tonight, and in Dave’s book, Do You Talk Funny? which is #1 in its category on Amazon. To order (and the Salon audience is likely to want to), here’s the link.

http://www.amazon.com/Do-You-Talk-Funny-Funnier/dp/1942952279/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Krista Charles and Marie Reilly

Trad music stars Marie Reilly on fiddle and Krista Charles on piano presented rare music from the South Leitrim/Longford area. They began with “Scots Measures,” followed by “McCoy’s” from Marie Reilly’s grandfather’s manuscript and “The Stafford Dance” from a Stephen Grier Manuscript dated 1883. After a set of Sligo jigs, Krista Charles played the beautifully haunting piece,“Ashokan Farewell.”  The duo finished with an uplifting reel, “The Bunch of Keys.”

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Enjoying the craic at the break

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Brian Fleming

Irish entertainer Brian Fleming comes to town for the St. Pat’s for All celebration each year and we’re glad that he includes the Salon on his busy schedule. Dedicating his performance to the #wakingthefeminsts movement in Ireland, he opened with a song, accompanying himself on the traditional Irish drum, the bodhran. Brian performed a humorous extract from Gis a Shot of Your Bongos Mister, one of his trilogy of shows performed in March at Under St. Mark’s. He performed that show and Have Yis No Homes To Go To at Under St. Mark’s 94 St Mark’s Place on Monday, March 21 at 7pm and 8:3o pm.

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Ray Lindie

Ray Lindie’s terrifc short story, “The Beefeater” recounts how he unknowingly met Tennessee Williams when he mixed him a Beefeater Martini at Elaine’s. When Ray started working there, he relieved the actress Elaine Stritch, who introduced her Broadway friends. Ray has more stories about the fabled joint where he worked for a time in the 60s and then in the 70s.

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Rosina Fernhoff

The inimitable Rosina Fernhoff performed a segment from Shadows, a play by her late husband Av Inlender. Shadows gives voice to Russian choreographer Nadia Arkadina’s saga of war and repression. Years of hiding, political purges and her grandmother’s cryptic messages suppress her faith as an individual and a creative spirit.

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Tom Mahon

“Death on a Beach,” a vignette from Tom Mahon’s collection, Tomorrow Never Came is based on a true story of a temporarily deranged young student who was shot and killed by police on a beach near Sydney, Australia. Tom added the dramatic twist of vacationing NYC police officers, just married, and trying to intervene by throwing sand in the assailant’s eyes. The result was tragedy for the newlyweds.

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Gordon Gilbert

Playwright, singer/songwriter, and poet Gordon Gilbert entertained tonight by reading the lyrics to two songs he composed. “Come Home” is a woman’s prayerful plea for her love to return home safe from war. Gilbert adapted music from the wonderful intricate melody of a song by Senegalese mezzo-soprano Julia Sarr. In “To Your Heart Again,” a country/western song, a rowdy, large-living man asks for another chance, having wronged the woman he loves.

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John Kearns

Once again John Kearns was thrilled to have Rosina Fernhoff bring to life a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. Picking up from the passage Rosina read last month at the Cell, the excerpt has James Logan reflecting on the life he is leaving behind in 1882 New York City and the new life he is going to begin in Philadelphia.  As the ferry takes James from Manhattan to the Hoboken train station, James remembers the horrors he has seen in New York’s Five Points and knows he will not miss them. Admiring the energy and agility of the American sailors on the boats around him, he sees them as “personifications of his new country and harbingers of his new life.”

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Adrianna Mateo

Adrianna Mateo, rock singer-songwriter and new-music solo violinist, concluded the night’s lineup with an acoustic performance of original songs from her upcoming debut album. Her next single, “August Sun,” will be available on iTunes, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and on social media in the end of March 2016. More about this unique talent at www.adriannamateo.co

Next salon is Thursday, April 7 at Bar Thalia at 7pm hosted by Sarah Fearon!

The April 19th Salon at the Cell will be a special event marking the 1916 centenary.  If you have 1916 material, email John Kearns at IASalon@hotmail.com.  (A few slots available.)

Also, in April 24th (sometime between 1 & 6 pm), there will be a mini-salon as part of NYC’s commemoration of the 1916 centenary on the third floor of Pier A Harbor House.  Stay tuned for details.

See you soon!

March 10, 2016

3/3/16 IAW&A Salon: Poetry, politics, and the real “New York Values”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:04 am

By Karen Daly
Photos by Tom Mahon

The first March IAW&A Salon saw the return of some old friends, featured stories with breathless endings and a few comments on the sorry state of presidential politics. Our new night at Bar Thalia, the first Thursday of the month, allowed for a relaxed atmosphere and general good cheer in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day.

Host John Kearns announced that IAW&A has been recognized as “Organization of the Year” by the Irish American Heritage & Culture Committee of the NYC Department of Education. The award will be presented on Friday, March 11, at 5pm at Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom at 209 Joralemon Street. We’re delighted that our group, barely eight years old, has been so honored.kevin

Kevin McPartland

IAW&A Salon regular, novelist and short story writer Kevin R. McPartland kicked off the program with a continuation of his zany short story “The Cruise.” In the piece, an old school New Yorker finds himself on a cruise with a group of drunk magicians. A surprise ending, coupled with Kevin’s delivery, delighted the crowd.     eammon

Eamon Loingsigh

We welcomed the return of Eamon Loingsigh, who read from Exile on Bridge Street, the second novel of his Auld Irishtown trilogy, following the acclaimed The Light of the Diddicoy. In Exile, teenage Irish immigrant Liam Garrity struggles to adulthood in early 1900s Brooklyn, while back home, Ireland’s fight for independence erupts with the 1916 Easter Rising. We’ll hear more about Exile on Bridge Street near its pub date, scheduled for October. maura

Maura Mulligan

Frequent Salon contributor, author, teacher and dancer, Maura Mulligan gave an account of a recent visit to her sister’s grave at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorn, NY in “The Search for Mag.” She died of a stroke at a young age many years ago, leaving Maura heartbroken. At her gravesite, Maura tenderly reminisces about their childhood and updates Mag on events in her life. Maura dedicated her memoir, Call of the Lark to her. www.mauramulligan.com
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John Anthony Brennan

John Anthony Brennan’s first book, Don’t Die with Regrets, won the prestigious 2015 “Next Generation Indie Book Award.” His second, The Journey: A Nomad Reflects was published in October 2015. Tonight, with his Armagh tones, he gave life to three poems: “The Rhythm of Time” by Bobby Sands, “Requiem for the Croppies” by Seamus Heaney, and John’s own composition “The Singing Bones.” callaghan

Jim Callaghan

Jim Callaghan’s “New York Values” offered a powerful rebuke to Ted Cruz’s famous insult. He argued that we New Yorkers know exactly what Cruz meant— the various ethnic and religious groups and so many others that make New York work. Jim described how New York led the way, long before the Bill of Rights, in establishing freedom of speech (1734), freedom of religion (1707) and later in women’s rights at the Seneca Falls convention (1848). Jim concluded, “Despite our reputation as a contentious lot, we get along by being respectful and in keeping the immigrant dream alive for those who came before us and who still see New York as the place to fulfill their dreams.”

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Jack Di Monte

In another nod to the political season at hand and the imminent Ides of March, Jack Di Monte delivered an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Jack showed another of his many talents with his portrayal of Cassius’ first overture to Brutus as he tested his tolerance of the emperor’s arrogant power-grab.gilbert.JPG

Gordon A. Gilbert

Gordon A. Gilbert is re-working the script for his play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home, and plans to produce it for the 7th time this spring. He performed monologues from the play, including a sharp piece about outsourcing the duties of attending to a loved one’s death. jk

John Kearns

John Kearns dedicated his reading to Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy and Brendan Fay whose long struggle has finally helped make the St. Patrick’s Day Parade more inclusive. To that end, he chose monologues from his play, In the Wilderness, about a South Bronx Catholic girls’ school in the 1980s. In the monologues, teachers and students give their perspectives on the myth of Sisyphus who was condemned for all eternity to push a boulder to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll down again brent

Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer presented a short story in the voice of an addled woman from Queens, a communicant at St. Joan of Arc parish. Brent claims that he “publishes short things in obscure places.” inthefrontrowonthedole.blogspot.comthom

Thom Molyneaux

Thom Molyneaux is an actor, director, playwright and a semi-regular at our IAW&A Salons. Tonight he read his timely new short play, White Cop/Black Kid in public for the first time. Thom was thrilled by the audience reaction, “…better than he even dreamed and wished for…”

His experience reminds him how valuable the attentive IAW&A Salon is for himself and other artists.

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon has been reading from his collection of vignettes called Delusions. Tonight he read “A Cosby” with his usual dramatic flair.guen

Guenevere Donohue

Multi-talented Guenevere Donohue performed an excerpt of her solo show, Killer Is My Name. This section featured a snowy Sunday, uncovered secret poetry and Guen’s original composition, “The Evolution Song.”  malachy

Malachy McCourt

No one tells it like Malachy McCourt, and he closed our night with his unadulterated opinions on the recent death of Antonin Scalia, on other political figures, on St. Patrick, and closed with the soulful “The Foggy Dew.”

Val Cooke, Brendan Costello, Mark Butler and John Brennan, and Karen Daly enjoying the salon!

See you next time, 3/15 at the Cell, 7pm!

 

 

 

March 1, 2016

2/26 IAW&A Road Salon at Molloy College

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:25 pm

Photos by Tom Mahon

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Catherine Tully Muscente, Director, Irish Studies Institute at Molloy College welcomed artists and audience

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John Brennan read about the writer’s need to write

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Karen Daly read about growing up in Brooklyn (Photo John Brennan)

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Tom Mahon read a story about a run-in with Homeland Security (Photo John Brennan)

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Jack O’Connell performed a monologue and recited two poems

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Marie Reilly on fiddle 

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Krista Charles on piano

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Full house at Molloy

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Tom Phelan read from The Canal Bridge

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John Kearns read from Dreams and Dull Realities

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Guenevere Donohue performed an excerpt from Killer Is My Name

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Marie Reilly and Krista Charles concluded the salon

More fun at Molloy:

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Val enjoys the salon

fun2 Nancy Oda traveled to Rockville Centre for the salon

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February 26, 2016

2.16.16 IAW&A SALON: Tales of love, sex, and NY Irish Childhoods

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:22 am

By Karen Daly
Photos by Tom Mahon

 The Valentine’s Day spirit may have still been in the air at the IAW&A Salon at The Cell, where we had fictional and dramatic pieces that dealt with matters of love and sex. We also had reflections on growing up in New York Irish neighborhoods; trad music; great storytelling; a stirring new song; and the debut of an assured new talent.

Some members have events next week that are highlighted here in bold. Go and support their work.

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Playwright Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon performed Sheila’s play-in-progress, When Love Comes Tumbling Down, in which a daughter’s wedding announcement exposes the regrets and longings in her parents’ long marriage. Done with wit, drama and soundtrack!

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First time presenter Judith Glynn read a powerful personal essay, “My Father’s Forgotten Grave” that described her search for a grave never visited. She revealed that alcoholism overtook her father, resulting in neglect and a poverty-stricken childhood. Only in Judith’s later years as a fulfilled and successful woman does she want to thank her father for her life and absolve him graveside for his unintended abandonment. See Judith’s travel articles and books at www.judithglynn.com.

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Journalist and playwright, (his Stoopdreamer played at The Cell to great acclaim), Pat Fenton brought us back with him to 1950s Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn with “Still the Same.” After being part of a teenage gang war, Pat concludes that he was influenced more by the innocence of the neighborhood than the violence.

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Actor Rosina Fernhoff chose a monologue from Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, a play about gender confusion and change and matters pertaining to sex and time. She delivered a witty and sly portrayal of a young woman’s sexual discovery.

On Thursday, 3/3, Rosina will be in The Piano Teacher at St. Malachy, the Actors Chapel at 239 West 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. It’s at 7:30pm, and it’s free.

IMG_9169IMG_9166 Sex was also the subject, or perhaps the non-subject of Kathleen O’Sullivan’s chapter from her memoir Isham Street, because she learned that her family would do anything to avoid the topic. When her inquiry about where babies came from was met with misinformation, the child spent her time wondering what life would be like if another family had bought her at the hospital first.  After much analysis – and charming drawings – she was relieved that the O’Sullivan’s got to the hospital first and bought her. Kathleen presented the chapter as an iMovie video with illustrations and voice-over narration.

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Trad music star/expert Don Meade performed several tunes. On octave harmonica, he played “The Road to the Isles” and “The Galop” both from Tom Doherty, a Donegal melodeon player and regular at the Eagle Tavern in the 1980s. Don sang “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure,” from Co. Antrim singer Robert Cinnamond. He ended with a slow air “An Binsin Luachra” and reel, “The Volunteer” on a chromatic harmonica, in memory of Sandy Boyer. Follow Don at www.blarneystar.com and join his sessions at the Landmark Tavern on Monday nights.

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Do you remember Grandpa Al Lewis from The Munsters? John McDonagh revealed that Lewis was an Irish Republican and he talked about their time together as WBAI radio hosts. In another funny bit, John also showed a video clip of himself calling in from his Yellow cab to legendary radio host Bob Fass about what was happening in the city in the wee small hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hnTTutCH0

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In Tom Mahon’s story “First Date,” a future power couple have already fallen in love via Skype, but have been too busy to meet until tonight. They’re both very tall, and played basketball in college and work in New York. The woman arrives late, and takes four phone calls, until finally the man leaves the table. When he returns, he asks her to marry him. Lest you think this is a happy ending, Tom has a new version in which the man doesn’t return.

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In Maureen Hossbacher’s piece, “Telling Stories,” a young girl at her father’s wake recalls his flair for storytelling, especially his tales of ghosts and banshees and other typically Irish malarky that makes light of death. The tale was enhanced by Maureen’s lilting reading.

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Seamus Scanlon read a flash fiction piece called “The Kray Twins” about the famous criminals.

On Wednesday, 3/2 at 6:00 pm, Seamus’ one act play “The Long Wet Grass will be at the Center for Worker Education (City College) 25 Broadway (1 train to Rector, 4/5 to Bowling Green). Free and open to the public. ID needed.

http://www.tribecatrib.com/content/cell-one-act-play-seamus-scanlon

Salon producer and the night’s host John Kearns was thrilled to hear Rosina Fernhoff bring to life his latest excerpt from his novel in progress Worlds. In the excerpt, Logan family patriarch, James, stands at the stern of a Hudson-River ferry, reflecting about the new phase of his life that is about to begin.  As he embarks upon his move from 1880s New York to Philadelphia, he looks back at the city that has been his first home in the New World and forward to the city his friend has recommended.

On Wednesday, Mar 3/2 at 6:30 pm John will be giving a talkback on Sean O’Casey and his times after a reading of  “A Pound On Demand” and “Bedtime Story” at the Mid-Manhattan Library.

https://www.evensi.us/an-evening-of-ocasey-mid-manhattan-library/170928295

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Guenevere Donohue gifted us with two folk songs to close out the evening. She debuted a brand new composition created in celebration of the Easter Rising, “The Spirit Rises.” Two lines from the chorus of this tribute:

And if the children remember
The spirit will stay

Then, with a dedication to Sandy Boyer, Guen sang Brendan Behan’s “The Old Triangle” with us joining on the chorus.

Don’t forget our March date at Bar Thalia, on Thursday, March 3rd.

February 16, 2016

2/3/16 IAW&A Salon: Postcards, Sheep, Faeries, and Something for Everyone

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:21 am

By Mark William Butler
Photos by Kevin McPartland

It was business as usual at the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon at Bar Thalia on Tuesday February 3rd, when the topics included postcards, sheep, Celtic faeries, dunce caps, James Dean, St. Grace’s Day, finger snapping, and the inherent humor of male genitalia – a little something for everyone, as it were.

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Andrew Byrne, Artistic Director of Symphony Space

John Kearns got things rolling by introducing special guest Andrew Byrne, the Artistic Director of Symphony Space, who dropped by to say hello and offer words of encouragement to the IAW&A, which he called “a member of the Symphony Space family.”

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John Kearns

John then read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, about Seamus Logan’s arrival in the New World in the late 19th century.  Wandering the streets of Lower Manhattan after getting off of the boat at South Street Seaport, Seamus finds his way to Saint James’s Church near Chatham Square.  After saying a few decades of the rosary, Seamus meets the church’s cleaning lady who is also from Mayo, tells her his name is James, and accepts a room in her nearby boarding house.

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Ray Lindie

Ray Lindie was up next, reading from his new play, Jimmy Dean’s Alive. The lead character, James, is enamored of James Dean, and often thinks of himself as Dean, an escape mechanism he uses to separate himself from the three women he is forced to live with: his mother, her lover (a large masculine southern lesbian), and her new found friend, a young pregnant Irish Au-Pair. As Ray so devilishly put it; “Let the games begin.”

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Rosina Fernhof

Rosina Fernhof then performed a monologue from Synge’s most beautiful play, “Riders to the Sea,” which is the story of a mother who has seen all of her sons swallowed by the sea. “They are all together now,” she laments. “The end has come.”  Tinged with bitterness but final acceptance, the monologue reflects the life of this Irish woman.

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Sean Carlson

Board member Sean Carlson shared a short story about an airport without postcards as an introduction to an essay he wrote about one of his childhood favorites (Rush Hour – Ireland) and a car-travel game it provoked. One attendee tweeted her favorite line about “traffic woes that do not implicate sheep,” and plenty of discussion followed at the bar afterwards about other memories of postcards and the past. Sean also took the opportunity to introduce a new form — available at http://bit.ly/IASalon — for anybody interested in reading or performing at future Salons.

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Sarah Fearon

Fellow board member and fearless comedian Sarah Fearon then wrapped up the first half of the evening by trying a first draft of some new comedic material. Focusing on people who drive us crazy – ranging from those who use the phrase “Full Disclosure” inappropriately to those we should be intolerant of for their intolerances – and some who narrate every train of thought they have at the expense of our sanity. Also on tap were a few inventions for an APP and a new GPS system to improve our lives. Sarah promises that her train of thought will be continued. We hope so.

After the break, and the inevitable beverages, Mr. Kearns continued the proceedings with a reminder about the St. Pat’s for All Parade fundraiser, to be held at the Irish Arts Center on Friday, March 4th from 6-10pm. The event includes a reception, music, and some literary shenanigans, with an appearance by the man himself, the legendary Malachy McCourt. Enjoy some great food at a great show for a great cause!

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Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran then delighted the crowd with her poetry, reading three pieces that all had a winter theme, and succeeded in warming up the room.

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Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. then shared a monologue based on an interview with Dr. Raymond Barfield, in which the doctor discussed children, cancer, and death. The interview appeared in the January 2016 issue of the literary magazine The Sun. He followed that up with a second monologue, “Dick”, which is part of a play Gordon himself wrote called Monologues from the Old Folks Home. The character is a World War Two veteran who chose to reside at the rest home called, “Serendipity” instead of a V.A. home, because of the larger number of women there. Most of the monologue is about his good relationship with his, well, “dick”.

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Mark Tompkins

Newcomer Mark Tompkins then read from his Irish-themed debut novel, The Last Days of Magic. The novel is being published by Penguin Random House on March 1st and his official book tour concludes at the April 7th IAW&A salon. The Last Days of Magic is an epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and traitorous faeries, mad kings and exorcists, and a broken Goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost – medieval Ireland.

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Jack DiMonte

Salon regular Jack DiMonte then treated us to a Jimmy Buffett song, “He Went To Paris”, which encapsulates one man’s story from youth in Paris to old age in Florida.  In a few minutes it has the impact of a sweeping biography as it carries the listener through the emotional highs and lows of its unnamed protagonist, hurdling across the eras of his life.

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John Paul Skocik

Closing out the show was the dynamic John Paul Skocik, who returned with three songs: “One In a Million”, piece about youth and it’s impending end; “Alien” a pretty tune (though lyrically misanthropic, as it asks why should we deal with the problems of others when we don’t want to deal with our own); and lastly “California Time,” the tale of a New York man-about-town engaging in a catch-up phone conversation with an ex currently on the west coast, only to realize (too late, of course) that he wishes that he was also in California. John continues to write but has not performed a live show in some time, something he plans to remedy soon. In the meantime, we’re always happy to have him jam with us.

We’ll see you next time – in this case on Tuesday, February 16th (7pm) at The Cell Theatre – which promises to be another celebration of words, music, and occasional nonsense.

January 27, 2016

IAW&A’s Second Salon of 2016: Enjoyable Dramas of Many Types!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 6:01 pm

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Drama of the good variety featured in many of the enjoyable presentations at the Irish American Writers salon at the Cell on Tuesday January 19th.

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Mark Byrne and Penny O’Brien

Kicking off the night and the drama, Dublin born playwright Derek Murphy presented the first scene from his new play, Dyin’ For It.  It starred  Mark Byrne and Penny O’Brien as estranged brother and sister dealing, rather inappropriately, with what should be some very sad news. Byrne trained with Wynn Handman in New York and at The Gaiety School and at the Samuel Beckett Centre in Dublin and has acted in New York, Dublin and Los Angelas.

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Thom Molyneaux

Next up Thom Molyneaux did not perform a play excerpt but told how his mother wrote out in longhand four copies of her”biography” for her sons. Reading from a copy, he recounted his mother’s telling of her life on a farm in Kerry. In the story a young mother, (Thom”s grandmother) overwhelmed with farm chores and the caring of her first half dozen or so children (there would be 16 in all), has her life changed by an unannounced visitor.

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Rosina Fernhoff

Adding to the drama, Rosina Fernhoff performed a monologue from the solo play, The Conversion of Alice B. Toklas by Carol Polcovar.  Alice examines her life and desire to become a Catholic at the age of 92.  She has these conversations with herself and with her great love, Gertrude Stein. And in the course of these talks, reviewing her life with Gertrude Stein, she finds her own voice…herself.

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John McDonagh

John McDonagh performed a hilarious sketch from his one man play, Cabtivist, recounting all the machinations involved in sending Christmas greetings to families of IRA prisoners on a sign in Times Square during the height of the Troubles.

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Brendan Costello

IAW&A board member Brendan Costello discussed the new online sign-up form to be used by IAW&A Salon presenters.  He also asked for news and volunteers for the IAW&A Weekly newsletter.  

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Adrianna Mateo

After some technical drama involving microphones during which Adrianna Mateo told the audience about performing on the Stephen Colbert show, Mateo read her short short stories and performed her single, “August Sun.”

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John Kearns

Just before the dramatic break (i.e. intermission), our dedicated host John Kearns read a brief excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds: part of the overture to the novel’s section focused on Greed and Charity.

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Adrianna, Rosina, Margaret McCarthy, and Kira Citron enjoy the break

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IAW&A board member Kathleeen Walsh D’Arcy has a refreshment during the break

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Derek Murphy and friends … 

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Joel Weinberg

The first presenter of the second half, Joel Weinberg (J.L. Weinberg), made his first dramatic entrance to the IAWA salons, reading from his just-published novel, True Religion, a genre-bending fusion of paranormal horror, spiritual therapy, American history, and New Age enlightenment. An unexpected encounter with an otherworldly spirit at a holiday party in Pennsylvania’s Orenda Valley sends the main character, Seth Davis, a gay journalist from Manhattan, on a profound religious journey. Being able to introduce Joel was a special treat for John Kearns as Joel and John are friends and former coworkers.  

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William Lee Coakley

Another new member William Lee Coakley introduced himself with poems appropriate to the Selfie Age and then mocking ones on the barbarian English, thieves of our language, and on the ancient order of homophobes, followed by a memorial to the Irish-American poet Walter McElroy, defector to England during the McCarthy period among other thought-provoking and moving poems.

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Kathleen O’Sullivan

Next up Kathleen O’Sullivan presented her memoir Isham Street in the dramatic iMovie form with illustrations and voice-over narration. The chapter titled “The Church” illustrated the domination of the Catholic church in her Irish community, and her childhood quest to understand the concepts of God, Purgatory, Limbo, Heaven, and Hell.

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Childlike theology …

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Seamus Scanlon

Seamus Scanlon read another flash-fiction piece, “Across The Harlem River,” about Dominican gangsters stealing money from the badlands of Woodlawn. He is making a short film of another flash fiction piece he read previously at the IAW&A Salon, entitled, “The Resurrection Love Song.” He is looking for three Irish teens to star in it. Email seamus.scanlon@gmail.com cullen

Bernadette Cullen

Bernadette Cullen recommended the movie, Analisa, and then read a surreal prose piece, a poem responding to a painting by an Italian artist, and a third piece that was an epilogue to a much longer work that is in progress. Cullen is an adjunct instructor with the College of New Rochelle.

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John Munnelly

Closing out the night in his inimitable dramatic fashion, John Munnelly sang “Flower Shop in the Day (yeah, yeah, yeah),” a cynical take on gentrification, “Julius Caesar, a meditation on life filtered through historical biography, and a new song, “Is it Love that We’re Here For?” a meditation on meaning and reconciliation.

Look out for the new IAW&A Salon sign-up form!  See you at the next salon on Wednesday February 3rd at 7 pm at Bar Thalia!

 

 

 

 

 

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