Irish American Writers & Artists

March 28, 2012

Kevin Holohan reads at Watchung, Thursday, March 29th 7pm

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature — by johnleemedia @ 6:20 pm
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Dublin native reads from The Brother’s Lot
The mix of dire experiences that goes into the education dished out at the Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means adds up to a mordantly funny debut from Dublin native Holohan. Young Finbar Sullivan, newly arrived from Cork, finds himself at the mercy of priestly pedagogues, from the scheming Brother Loughlin to the sadistic Brother Kennedy, while trying to fit in among his cynical and abused classmates.
The blighted prospects of post-WWII Dublin get a lightly satirical treatment, as with the teacher who sees a chance to dispense punishment as “the best excuse for vindictiveness that had come his way,” or the adviser who lists “junior clerical assistant in the Department of Fisheries” as the brightest of grim career options, but Holohan’s touch gets angrier as institutional decay transforms to rot, absurdity becomes bitterness, and depictions of characters and the school itself get etched with an increasingly brutal touch. The collapse of both the Order of the Brothers of Godly Coercion and the seat of tainted education they foist on their lower-middle-class pupils are fitting revenge, and the little hope Holohan holds out lends an acid edge to this cutting depiction of a system collapsing under the weight of its own corruption.
Kevin was born in Dublin and after a primary and secondary school education at Christian Brothers school attended University College Dublin where he studied Pure English, the system’s third most unemployable degree. After graduating he spent six years teaching English as a Foreign Languish in Castilla La Mancha, Spain where he learned to love Flamenco and his proudest achievement was to eventually read Don Quixote in the original. He moved to New York in 1996 where he now lives with his wife and five-year-old son. The Brothers’ Lot is his first novel.

The Brothers’ Lot (Paperback)


ISBN-13: 9781936070916
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Akashic Books, 4/2011

March 23, 2012

An Irish American connection to “The Hunger Games”

You see the work of illustrator Tim O’Brien on the covers of  Time, Rolling Stone, Harpers, in advertising and on book jackets.

Thanks to one series of book jackets, an expanding universe of people will see his art, especially starting today, opening day for the film, “The Hunger Games.”

Tim wrote, “The artwork for the Suzanne Collins novel, “The Hunger Games” was an illustration done in 2008. Since then I did all three covers for the series and now my artwork/design is featured on the movie poster and as a pin IN the movie “The Hunger Games,” opening nationwide 3/23/12. It may be the biggest movie of the year and perhaps one of the largest openings ever.

“Seeing it plastered everywhere is amazing and after going to the premiere in Los Angeles and then the after party, I feel I might have just watched my career high point cruise by. Still basking in the glow though.”

Tim is a board member of the Irish American Writers and Artists.  To see more of his work, go to

Loving Life and Laughing at Death with Malachy McCourt

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 6:07 pm
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by Kathy Callahan
Malachy McCourt is the hardest working storyteller on both sides of the Hudson: a seanachie like no other in the Irish tradition. Himself through and through. Malachy imparted his magic through song, poetry, storytelling and observational wit that doesnt quit to an immediately enchanted audience at SOPAC on Saturday March 9. I have to admit when I first heard about, Loving Life and Laughing at Death…… NJ of all places! I thought, “Malachy must be working on the sequel: The O’Soprano’s of the Oranges. And he’s coming to South Orange to try out new material on us.”
Here is the take away from the show.
1.  You can love life while laughing at death in New Jersey, all the while discovering no less than 75 ways to say it.  Malachy read a roaring out loud list of words, expressions:
She has bit the dust, expired, gone to a better place and or the other side. And where is the other side exactly? How do you know if it is a better place? I’d like to know so that I can plan ahead.
  Malachy’s prayer was answered 70 years later.
To read the full post, go to New York Irish Arts

Inside the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 5:55 pm
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by John Kearns

Waving to the Parade Committee

Late one Saint Paddy’s Night past, amid all of the discarded cups and cans, the seashells filled with cigarette butts, and the other debris left behind by the revelers at Marty O’Brien’s Public House, Kevin McKee, my friend from Chicago whom I only see on Saint Patrick’s Day, was about to take his leave. Since we had had such a good time, as we always do, I made a suggestion.

“Y’know, we should keep in touch during the year.”

“No, John,” said he. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

For McKee, like another jolly fellow from the north, comes around but once a year and, like that other jolly fellow’s annual visit, McKee’s marching with us has become a tradition – one that we have upheld every year of this century (except one).

The uninitiated or the skeptical might ask why. Why fly from other cities and countries, take trains and boats from other states and boroughs for this old tradition of marching? Why are we so bound and determined to march on a beautiful day or in the driving snow?

True, the parade is exclusionary and stodgy and conservative and martial. It may be out of touch with modern Irish culture. But the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is an Irish-American institution older than the United States itself and a chance for the scattered members of the Irish diaspora to get together for one day in the center of the world. The New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is the granddady of all the other parades, the biggest civilian parade in the world. If you are going to be anywhere in the world on Saint Patrick’s Day, Fifth Avenue is the place to be.

Read the rest of the post at New York Irish Arts…


March 22, 2012

Post St. Patrick’s Day at Salon at the Cell

Filed under: Essay,Events,Film,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 6:30 pm
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The song Waltzing Matilda, an Australian bush song, was written in the late nineteenth century. Australian Eric Bogle used lyrics from the tune in his anti-war derivative “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” and Tom Waits followed that with his very personal “Tom Traubert’s Blues,” which incorporates lyrics from Bogle’s song.  Wait’s recording was at the heart of presenter Tom Mahon’s work “Hanoi’s Most Dangerous People,” at Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers & Artists’ Salon at The Cell.  But unlike the anti-war sentiment of Bogle’s version, Mahon effectively used Waits’ recording as the backdrop for his cathartic journey back to Vietnam, where he served as a soldier during the Vietnam war.  A beautifully photographed journey accompanied by a nice twist on an old tune. 

First time reader, Kate McLeod (photo above) read a personal essay, “What the Sock Drawer Says” which came to her when she was pondering a heaping drawer full of  single, mismatched socks and thought of it as a metaphor for her life. Single  again, after she lost her husband, she felt out of place and like a stranger.  McLeod’s piece included a wonderful segment/impersonation of Martha Stewart on how to organize a sock drawer and some insights into an extraterrestrial conspiracy that looks into the possibility that losing socks in the rinse cycle of washing machines around the world may be an alien phenomenon.  Kate, a journalist and playwright, is a wonderful addition to our growing group of talented artists. 

Pat Hanrahan read another excerpt from his novel/thesis in progress. We met another of his main characters, John Fitzgerald, who has moved back to his old home, having separated from his wife. John now has to listen to his father, instead. Pat mentioned that reading aloud, hearing his own voice in front of an audience, leads to hours of rewriting, which he believes has really aided his writing process.  Perfect. That is exactly what Malachy McCourt visualized when he first suggested the salon format.
Another first time reader, Gary Ryan, (photo left) presented several short poem and prose pieces borne of experiences in both New York City, where he lives, and Mississippi, where he grew up. At one point he was able to mention Faulkner and the ill-fated Donner Party in the same sentence. Deft, Gary. 

Charles Hale followed, debuting his short video Breathing of an Ancestor’s Space and Time (featured in earlier blogpost). By understanding the events that surrounded one incident in his grandfather’s life he was able to get the “feel of things,” he was able to breathe from my grandfather’s space and time.  Mark Donnelly read three scenes from the play he is writing about Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant who was a prominent union organizer in the American Labor Movement in the early 20th Century. A very spirited reading.  And Kathy Lawrence read from Becoming Irish, her memoir. Kathy read a light story–the time she and her Mom went to the Irish Consulate for citizenship and end up shamelessly flirting with some handsome cops. And a dark story–A 1912 family photograph reveals a terrible secret that has ramifications for Kathleen and her siblings to this day.  As Kathy says, she comes from a family that never stops giving…literary material, that is. 

Novelist Honor Molloy read from The Carpet with the Big Pink Roses on It by Maeve Brennan  This work is  from Honor’s series on reading stories to children, which are written by a variety of writers. Watching Honor you had the sense that she loved being able to let the story flow through her. A great story performed by a great reader.

Kevin McPartland read from chapter two of his soon to be published, coming of age novel, Brownstone Dreams. It’s a story set in sixties Park Slope, Brooklyn, and is based on his deceased cousin Robert’s tragic life. Another great Brooklyn story from this much anticpated novel. 

Pat Fenton, along with the wonderfully expressive and talented actor, Jack O’Connell, read from his play Stoopdreamer and Other Brooklyn StoriesThe play is about a lost part of Irish working-class Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and some of the characters who lived in it before Robert Moses drove the Prospect Expressway through the very heart of it in 1953, and divided it forever. Pat recently added the words Brooklyn Stories to his title, since, as he said, “The arts in Brooklyn are pretty hot now, and that new title has more universal appeal.”

Billy Barrett, (photo above) closed out the evening reading from his memoir in progress Highway Star. Billy carries himself with the bravado of a new crowned prince in urban street confessionals. Vivid, poignant and gritty or maybe he’s just decided to get his life off his chest. “Fat and forty ain’t that bad…” he says with a smile.

The next Salon will be at the Thalia Cafe, located at Symphony Space on the corner of 95th and Broadway, beginning at 7PM. For info on joining the Irish American Writers and Artists or attending a salon, contact Charles R. Hale

March 21, 2012

“Breathing of an Ancestor’s Space and Time” Debuts at Salon

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Television,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 4:16 pm
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Charles Hale debuted his short film “Breathing of an Ancestor’s Space and Time” at last night’s IAW&A Salon at The Cell.

By understanding the events that surrounded one incident in his grandfather’s life through this video, Hale is able to get the “feel of things,” he is able to breathe from his grandfather’s space and time.

Author Peter Quinn called Hale’s video, “Concise and eloquent, narrative that borders on poetry, subtle yet emotional….The restraint in the piece is powerful…a willingness to let viewers and listeners have their own thought instead of telling them what to think.”


March 19, 2012

Past-Forward: A three-decade and three-thousand-mile journey home

Filed under: Essay,Literature — by johnleemedia @ 8:52 pm
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Past-Forward, a non-fiction account of author Maureen K. Wlodarczyk’s thirty-year search for her grandmother’s Irish ancestral roots, is written in the form of a letter to Maureen’s grandmother Kate.  The book  tells both the story of the thirty-year search itself along with the discovered tale of Kate’s Irish ancestors from the late eighteenth century in the West of Ireland, to their emigration to America in the mid-nineteenth century fleeing the devastating potato famine and through the next eight decades in Jersey City, New Jersey as successive generations struggled to make their way despite hardship and tragedy.

The Genealogical Society of New Jersey reviewed Past-Forward saying  the book is “an excellent example of taking genealogy far beyond just names and dates….valuable to anyone who has an interest in the journey of seeking their ancestors.”

Maureen Wlodarczyk is an admitted and unrepentant history and genealogy addict, an antiques hunter and collector. She is an officer and genealogical researcher with the Flannery Clan organization based in Dublin, Ireland and is a member of  the Irish American Writers and Artists organization and the Genealogical Society of New Jersey.

Past-Forward, published by Outskirts Press, can be purchased on and

March 9, 2012

Double Dublin: Funny Bits When You Need Them…the Day After

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 9:48 pm
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Kevin Holohan & Honor Molloy read funny bits from their novels
Sunday – March 18th – 1:30 – 2:30 pm at the Brooklyn Public Library

What is this now?
Did you know many people experience what is called post-patrician perdition.
They do now? And what class of affliction would this be?
They don’t know what to do with themselves the day after Patrick’s Day when it falls on a weekend.

And your solution to this is?
Reading out loud.
Is it, now? I assume you are talking of books. Where?
Central Library, Brooklyn.
Sunday March 18 at 1:30pm
On the other side of St. Patrick’s Day, when the green-tinted beer has gone flat and the strains of puzzling bagpipe music have died away, you can get a taste of an Ireland that is a little more riverrun than Riverdance, more Pogues than Clancy Brothers. Please come along to the Dweck Center of the Brooklyn Central Library on Sunday March 18 at 1:30pm 10 Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn, NY 11238 718-230-2100 where I will read from The Brothers’ Lot alongside Honor Molloy who will be reading from her terrific debut novel, Smarty Girl.
Is there a website to back this up?
And what does the Brooklyn Library have to say about all this?
Double Dublin: Join Kevin Holohan and Honor Molloy for an afternoon of Irish comic writing. Holohan reads from The Brothers’ Lot, a satirical and hilarious novel that explores religious hypocrisy in an Irish secondary school. Molloy reads from Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage, a wild child’s struggle to hold her family together in 1960s Dublin.
I have to see a man in about a dog in Bay Ridge but I’ll try to make it.
Fair enough.


Brooklyn Public Library, Dweck Center

10 Grand Army Plaza, Lower Level
Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn

March 8, 2012

To Hell and Back at The Thalia Salon


Hell’s Bells and the The Bells of Hell were a central theme of Tuesday’ night Irish American Writers and Artists’ salon at the Thalia Cafe on Tuesday. Malachy McCourt, one of the owners of the old Greenwich Village saloon Hell’s Bells, told a riotous story of how the name of the saloon was banned from the New York telephone directory and then led the attendees in a chorus of The Bells of Hell. New member David Coles also invoked the spirit of the old saloon, reading from his novel In the Midnight Choir, based on his New York City life in the 1970s, hanging out in two Village saloons, the aforementioned Hell’s Bells and The Lion’s Head. Wonderful story.

John Kearns reminded the audience that his play In the Wilderness will be on stage in early June. John read two St. Patrick’s Day selections.  The first, from his book, Dreams and Dull Realities, was about a young boy’s refusing to wear a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button on Saint Patrick’s Day.  The second, a story called “Making a Visit,” described a Paddy’s Day memory of a young woman’s dancing a jig on top of a bar.   

First time presenter Guenevere Donohue read and sang from her new playKiller is My Name. As Guenevere described it, Killer is personal myth, memory as legend, and the mystery of the Marine, poet and spy who was her father. I look forward to this multi-talented woman sharing more of her art. 

Tom Mahon shared a story “Lat Life Happiness,” a love story for seniors, which he noted there are far too few.  Sheila Walsh read from her new play“Mr. Tweedy’s Nieghbors,’ a play about spiritural renewal the Irish-American way.  John Kearns and Sarah Fearon assisted Sheila in the reading. Sarah then provided the evening’s comic relief reading from new comedy notes.  

Mikelle Terson read three poems.  ”So No, We Cannot Be Friends”, a poem about betrayal and soap, “Behind”, which speaks to the depth of story behind “the bones of the brow” of each person we meet in our everday lives, and ”For Those Who Can Hear” which addresses the urgent situation of the African Elephant.

Mikelle also asked the audience to “hear  the calling” by entering her “What Made the Elephant Happy?” writing contest.  Deadline is March 15th, 2012.  The five dollar entrance fee goes to the elephants.
Judges are the venerable Malachy McCourt and jazz great, David Amram.  

Maureen Walsh followed with a story “The Enemies of Rose” about an eccentric godmother who enlivens the narrator’s childhood during the Irish-American heyday of 1950′s New York, when St Patrick’s balls were held at midtown hotels and everyone summered at the ‘Irish Riviera,’ also known as  Rockaway Beach. 

Robert Haydon Jones read “My Tawdry Story” a tale about what happens to a highly respected senior citizen from Connecticut when his DNA is a perfect match with semen found at an unsolved rape murder in Miami more than 30 years ago. A riveting story and well read.

Kathy Callahan’s laugh out loud memoir in progress, A Tale of Two Snoring Readers was anything but sleep inducing. She read of those suffering from sleep apnea, discovering how to overcome its significant challenges, the stigmas and complications that effect intimate relationships, daily functioning and emotional health.   

And Kate Vaughan, calling on her substantial Irish wit, read from her novel in progress Shennanigans, which takes place at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home and shows how even in sad times we can always make the best of it, and know that with God’s help/love anything is possible.  

Great evening enjoyed by a full house. 

The next Irish American Writers and Artists’ salon will be at The Cell theatre, 338 W.23 Street, on March 20, beginning at 7PM.  For more information about the salons or the Irish American Writers and Artists contact Charles Hale at

March 6, 2012

Writer Finds Success IN THE WILDERNESS

Filed under: Literature,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 12:19 am
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After an award-winning staged reading 2010 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, John Kearns’ In the Wilderness has been accepted for a full production for this year’s Festivity and will be on stage for six performances in June upstairs at the New York’s Bleecker Street Theatre.

For the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, every show works to promote and/or raise money for a social cause or charity.  Kearns’ charity will be the Mercy Center for women and families in the South Bronx.

In The Wilderness depicts the struggle of teachers and students in an all-girls high school in the South Bronx in the late 1980′s, when the neighborhood was rife with crime, crack addiction and AIDS. Dispirited from the stress of the school year, dedicated young teacher Paul Logan decides that if he can get just one student to be successful, then all of the frustrations would be worthwhile. Carmen Marquez, a smart, sexy sophomore who writes poetry and succeeds in school despite pressures from home and from her neighborhood, seems to be the one Paul is hoping for.

The play is being produced by Boann Books & Media, LLC. Author John Kearns is the Treasurer Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc. and a regular contributor to the IAW&A Salons.

Venue: Upstairs at Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker Street, New York, NY (at Lafayette.)

Dates and Times:

Friday 6/1/12 – 9pm = Performance #1

Saturday 6/2/12 – 7pm = Performance #2

Saturday 6/9/12 – 11:30pm = Performance #3

Sunday 6/10/12 – 1:30pm = Performance #4

Thursday 6/14/12 – 6pm = Performance #5

Sunday 6/17/12 – 9:30pm = Performance #6

Festivity site:

Company site:

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