Irish American Writers & Artists

April 24, 2012

Fallen Angel Theatre Company’s 2012 Reading Series is premiering “Airswimming”

Filed under: Events,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 1:45 pm
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For those of who you attended last week’s Salon at The Cell you had the opportunity to hear Aedin Moloney’s brilliant reading of “Molly’s Soliloquy” from James Joyce’sUlysses. Next week, for those of you who missed Aedin, and for those who would like to see and hear her perform, there is another opportunity, and like the Salon, this event is free.
On April 30th, at 7PM, the Fallen Angel Theatre Company’s 2012 Reading Series is premiering Charlotte Jones’ Airswimming at The Irish Repertory Theatre. The play is directed by John Keating and features Aedin and Rachel Pickup, who both recently starred in The Irish Rep’s highly acclaimed production of Dancing at Lughnasa.
For more info and to reserve a seat, here’s the link.

April 22, 2012

Video Remembrance of “Baby Florence”

Filed under: Film,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 6:50 pm
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Charles R. Hale debuted his short film “The Death of Baby Florence” at Tuesday’s Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at The Cell.

The film focuses on Hale’s search to learn the burial place of his maternal grandparents’ third child—for religious reasons she wasn’t buried with her family—and his attempt to honor their pain.

April 19, 2012

Writers Night Indeed!

One rousing performance after another at Salon at The Cell.

One rousing performance followed another at Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at The Cell. Billy Barrett, resplendent in his Ralph Kramden, Brooklyn Water Buffalo Lodge bowling shirt, blew into the joint with a Winston Churchill Davidoff cigar hanging from his mouth and opened the evening with the back end of the first chapter of Highway Star. “I like to slice and dice catch phrases and mix my metaphors,” Billy said,  “Kind of like listening to Cardinal Spellman recite Springsteen.”  Defined and memorable, thanks for the laughs, BB.
Stephanie Silber, (far right in photo) a first time presenter, read from her book Other People’s Houses, a coming of age story about a rebellious teenager, growing up Irish Catholic on Long Island in the late sixties and early seventies, who finds herself pregnant.  Last night’s reading was a fragment from the protagonist’s point-of-view as an adult, which then picks up with the girl, Queenie, and her good pal-who-wants-to-be-much-more on an excursion to see the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore. It took Stephanie a few months to get up in front of the audience and the one thought I was left with was, “Given your talent, Lady, what were you waiting for?” Great start.
One of the highlights, among many, was listening to another first time presenter, Connie Roberts, winner of the 2010 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. Connie opened her poetry reading with Seamus Heaney’s bog body poem “The Tollund Man.”  Connie then followed with her own response, “Letterfrack Man.” As Heaney memorializes the saintly body of the Tollund Man, Roberts memorializes the neglected saintly body of Peter Tyrrell, an ex-inmate of an Irish industrial school who was felled by institutional abuse.  Roberts finished with a number of poems from her(almost completed) poetry collection, Not the Delft School, a memoir in verse of her experiences growing up in an industrial school in Ireland.  Listening to and watching Connie present is a delight. We hope she returns soon. 
Actor Jack O’Connell was next up. Jack read from a work in progress, which was motivated by the upcoming (2013) fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assasination. Jack is writing the story of a young, Long Island, Kennedy campaign worker who, three years later, is a member of The Old Guard, the elite US Army unit that was responsible for his President’s burial.  Terrific story, neatly abetted by Jack’s great acting chops.  
For the past few months we’ve been trying to get member and award winning actress, Aedin Moloney, to join us for a presentation.  Once we were able to nail down a date, and learned that she would be performing “Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy, the famous extract from James Joyce’s Ulysses,  we anxiously awaited her rendition, which is recognized as the best in New York.  Aedin didn’t disappoint, in fact, her presentation was flat out thrilling. Slowly picking up the pace, the last two minutes were stirring and spellbinding.  Aedin exceeded all expectations. And given what the expectations were, that’s high praise. 

I followed Aedin– a daunting task–but I took the easy way out. Instead of reading a story I debuted a short film The Death of Baby Florence, a story about my maternal grandmother’s third child who died shortly after she was born. For religious reasons Florence wasn’t buried with her family. The video documents my search to find where Florence was buried and my journey to honor my grandparents’ pain.  The film opens with the Stephen Foster song, “Slumber My Darling.”

TJ English, president of the Irish American Writers & Artists, read a passage from the New York Times bestseller The Savage City, just out in paperback. This was the perfect reading of a non-fiction work. Deftly set up with a powerful story, followed by a short reading, TJ reflected on a key moment in the rising racial consciousness of a young black militant in New York City.

Tom Mahon, a frequent performer, and a man of many talents, read the second half of the short story “Desperate” in which three wounded vets, all from different wars, are brought together by a man least likely to be a hero in the way he emerges.  He not only saves two young people’s lives, but creates a new life and better ones for everyone by playing Cupid.

Playwright, Patricia Goldstone, followed up her successful reading at the Thalia Cafe with another reading from her playInterlock. Two accomplished actors, both of whom have appeared at salons, Vincent Bandille and John Moss, gave wonderful readings of an artist at the make-it-or-break-it age, driven and slightly maddened by ambition, but also a prankster and an outsider, not overly burdened by respect for the art establishment and his college buddy and rival, an Enron-type corporate lawyer.  Another very fine performance. 

Closing out the evening were Honor Molloy and guest actor, Caroline Winterson, performing a savagely funny scene from Honor’s playCrackskull Row.  Caroline, appearing at a salon for the first time was outstanding as the daughter to Honor Molloy’s rendition of a mad old wan living in at the back of a kill-de-sack in Dublin 2. 

Great evening. The next salon will be on May 1, at the Thalia Cafe, which is located at Symphony Space at the corner of Broadway and 95th Street. For more information on joining the Irish American Writers & Artists or learning about the salons, contact Charles R. Hale at

April 17, 2012

The Irish Mexican Alliance Rides Again!

On April 28 in El Paso, Texas, The Irish Mexican Alliance rides again with a raucous night of entertainment and cross cultural solidarity, all to bring awareness to and raise money for organizations dealing with the trauma of the U.S.-Mexico narco war.

Some of the most popular bands in the Borderland, along with an impressive collection of poets and other artists, are coming together under that banner of THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE to stage a major fundraising event in downtown El Paso, TX on Sat., April 28. The event will raise money for the El Paso-based charity, Amor por Juárez, an organization that helps fund non-governmental organizations dealing with the trauma caused by the narco war in the U.S.-Mexico borderland.

Along with its serious intent, THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE event promises to be a raucous night of entertainment, as well as a formidable display of cross-cultural solidarity. There will be Celtic and Mexican music, Chicano and Irish poets, Mexican and Irish beer. Books, CDs, posters, and t-shirts created especially for the event will be raffled off for charity. The event will be held at the historic San Carlos Building at 501 Texas Avenue, in downtown El Paso, from 6-12 pm. The suggested donation for the event is $12.

“There is nothing quite like The Irish Mexican Alliance,” said best-selling author T.J. English, who founded the initiative and will be hosting the event. “We believe there is a spiritual connection between Mexican and Irish people that can be harnessed as a powerful force. In this case, along with staging one of the best concert events to hit El Paso in some time, we will raise money for organizations dealing with the ongoing emotional and human carnage of the narco war.”

Among the entertainers performing at the event are Frontera Bugalú and Radio La Chusma, two of the most popular bands in El Paso; singer Velia Christina, a rising star who will perform songs from her upcoming debut CD; the San Patricios, an El Paso-based traditional Irish music group; and Ashley Davis, a Celtic singer who is being flown in from New York City. On the literary side, renowned Chicano poet and author Jimmy Santiago Baca will read, along with local poets Valentin Sandoval and Terrence Welsh, and Myrlin Hepworth, a dynamic young Chicano poet based in Phoenix.

THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE began in 2010 in NYC with the staging of a similar event in Manhattan. At that event, money was raised for the Committee to Protect Journalists, who established a fund to provide legal assistant to journalists forced to flee Mexico and seek asylum in the U.S. due to threats and the murder of fellow journalists in Mexico.

“Anything that brings attention to what is happening across the border in Juárez is important,” says Valentin Sandoval, a local poet, filmmaker and activist who is a co-producer of the event. “There is a danger people will get tired of hearing about what’s happening there, or simply forget. We want to help make sure that doesn’t happen, and also, at the same, create a special night showcasing some of the most talented artists in El Paso.”

In addition to calling attention to the devastating consequences of the narco war, THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE draws its impetus from the historical spirit of the San Patricio Battalion, a group of mostly Irish American soldiers who, during the U.S.-Mexico War of 1845-48, deserted the U.S. army to fight on behalf of the Mexican people. Although the San Patricios are thought of as traitors by some (many were executed as traitors by the U.S. military), THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE celebrates the sacrifice of the San Patricios as an example of men and women following their conscience and standing up to what they saw as injustice and imperialist aggression.

For more information about THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE and the upcoming event in El Paso, visit the Facebook page and/or website at


April 16, 2012

IAW&A Members about Town

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 1:06 pm
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by Charles Hale

Are you looking for some low cost entertainment in New York this week?  Here are three alternatives:
 On Tuesday night, April 17th, The Irish American Writers & Artists Salon at The Cell begins at 7PM.  The salon allows members up to ten minutes to present in the medium of their choice, reading from a published work or one in progress, staging or reading from a play, a musical performance, presenting a work of art or telling a story. While the presentations are limited to members, all are welcome. This week highlights will include Aedin Moloney, who recently appeared in the Irish Repertory Theatre’s Dancing at Lughnasa, reading Molly’s soliloquy from James Joyce’s Ulysses, TJ English, author of a number of bestsellers, including Havana Nocturne, reading from his latest book, Savage City, and Connie Roberts, (photo left) the 2010 winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award will be reading her poetry. The Cell is located at 338 W23rd Street. Admission is free.
On Thursday evening, April 19th, at Fornino’s restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Billy Barrett will be hosting an evening of reading and performances. Barrett, master of the neo-beat confessional will riff on being brassy Boston Irish, while Honor Molloy (photo right) and Kevin Holohan will be providing the Irish Black Comedy. Holohan will read from The Brother’s Lot, a satirical and hilarious novel that explores religious hypocrisy in an Irish secondary school and Molloy will
be reading from Smarty-Girl-Dublin Savage, a wild child’s struggle to hold her family together in 1960s’ Dublin.  Word is the evening will be kicked off by a jazz trio. Fornino’s is located at 254 Fifth Avenue in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Admission is free. I’d be attending this event if it weren’t for the fact that I’ll be back at The Cell that same night, Thursday, April 19th, appearing in a full length reading of ….
Stoopdreamers and Other Brooklyn Stories, a play by Pat Fenton. Fenton intimates the dreams, trials and travails of ordinary people trying to find the American dream in post WWII Windsor Terrace, among them a cop who really wanted to be a writer, a movie projectionist at the Sanders Theatre whose life is defined by the continuance of movie reels as he waits for the changeover mark, and a beautiful dreamer named Janice Joyce who tried to go home again. Fenton’s play is an Irish-American story about an area that was once the hub of one of the greatest, Irish working-class neighborhoods in Brooklyn.  Jack O’Connell, who appears in the TV program Blue Bloods, will be performing the role of Moon Mullins, I, (photo left) who haven’t appeared in Blue Bloods, will be reading the role of Terry Smith, an Irish cop…talk about stereotyping.  Admission is free.

April 12, 2012

“Dancing at Lughnasa” Star Aedin Moloney Highlights April 17 Salon

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 8:06 pm
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The Irish American Writers & Artists’ Salon at The Cell on Tues., April 17  is shaping up to be a great event. Aedin Moloney, who recently starred as Rose in the Irish Repertory’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa, a performance the Wall Street Journal described as “especially striking,” will be reading Molly’s soliloquy from James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Those who have heard Aedin read Molly describe it as mesmerizing.

The Cell is located at 338 W23rd Street. The Salon begins at 7:00 and runs until about 9:30

See for yourself what all the fuss is about an IAW&A salon.

April 11, 2012

Pioneering Video “Frankie Teardrop” at MOMA

Filed under: Events,Film,Television,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 8:22 pm
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Pioneering video art by IAW&A member Paul Dougherty is now on view in the Museum of Modern Art’s current show, “SELECTED WORKS FROM THE CONTEMPORARY GALLERIES: 1980-NOW.”

From the punk era, Frankie Teardrop (1979) combines superimposed projector manipulations and high-end video post-production technology, generally unavailable to artists. The resulting video is described by John O’Connor of the New York Times as “an urban ballad of mental break-down” and is Included in Rolling Stone‘s “Book of Rock Video.”

"Frankie..." gets down at MOMA

The museum website describes Frankie Teardrop this way:

“This coarsely textured film-video hybrid combines superimposed projector manipulations and high-end video post-production. An insightful collaboration between videomaker Paul Dougherty and Art-Rite zine editors Walter Robinson and Edit DeAk, the work interprets a strident song by Suicide-with vocalist Alan Vega and Martin Rev on synthesizers and drum machines-about a poverty-stricken Vietnam vet pushed to the edge.”

An EMMY Award winning video editor, Dougherty started working in college with video artists, creating innovative art in that emerging genre. His video work has been screened in over 25 museums, exhibitions and festivals

For the last year Dougherty has had a on-going assignment of editing short art documentaries for the Gagosian iPad App. Featured artists include John Chamberlain, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Picasso.

Dougherty’s main indie effort of late is Punk Before Punk, a documentary origins story set in New York City which according to Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott “explores fresh tracks of what led up to the punk scene, the bohemian burlesque that preceded it, its bleached roots.” On screen in Punk Before Punk is CBGB gatekeeper David Byrne, Lenny Kaye, Marty Rev, and Danny Fields, who dryly describes the backroom of Max’s Kansas City as a “sewer of creativity.”

Dougherty lets his inner Irishman shine through in a few of the videos he grouped together on YouTube at OutsiderTV, a casual compilation of legacy work and “just for fun” videos.

Early work from EMMY winner Paul Dougherty on view at MOMA


A lifelong New Yorker who traces his roots back to Donegal, Dougherty played an instrumental role in the seemingly hopeless but ultimately successful effort to save the Lower East Side’s St. Brigit’s Church–known as the Irish Famine Church–from demolition.

April 5, 2012


Filed under: Essay,Events,Film,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 1:25 pm
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By Charles Hale


No, Van Morrison didn’t sing the beautiful Irish folk song, “Carrickfergus” at Tuesday night’s salon but Malachy McCourt ended an absolutely grand evening with a heartfelt rendition of this tune. The origins of “Carrickfergus” are unclear, but it has been traced to an Irish language song, “There Was a Noblewoman,” written in the early eighteenth century.And the Irish language was at the heart of one of the most stirring presentations the members of the Irish American Writers & Artists have experienced since the salons began. Reading from her play,Killer is My Name, Guenevere Donohue’s rapt audience sat spellbound as she  weaved storytelling, keening–a form of vocal lament–and the Irish language into performance art of the highest order. 

The evening began with two members reading for the first time. Jim Callaghan read from a story “Nobody Got It,” based on his “on a lark” tryout with the New York Mets in 1963, at the age of 16. Jim’s dad, friends and the stadium staff thought he was doing it because he really wanted to be in the big leagues. Jim claims he had no athletic ability and did it mainly for the adventure of playing in the Polo Grounds where his baseball hero Willie Mays played from 1951 to 1957 for the then-New York Giants. What New York City kid doesn’t relate to this? Great start to the evening.

Joe Davidson stepped up next and read from his novel in progress, a story of a mob associate and future insider on Wall Street. While celebrating his new career over dinner with his wife and mother at a Little Italy bistro, Billy Ferrara witnesses a gruesome mob hit by two men disguised as priests, complicating his already tumultuous relationship with mob boss Jimmy Vento and the Marghetti Family. This has the makings of an excellent novel. I look forward to hearing more from Joe. 

Maura Mulligan, who has read on a number of occasions from her memoir, Call of the Lark, which she reported is forthcoming from Greenpoint Press next month, read from a novel in progress. The theme of the piece Maura chose to read concerned teaching inner city students whose young lives are ruled by poverty and crime. Maura also reported that she has several readings lined up in Ireland this summer. 

Kevin R.McPartland read a riveting excerpt from his soon to be released novelBrownstone Dreams, an autobiographical tale set in sixties Brooklyn. Listening to Kevin’s entertaining presentations you know you are in the presence of someone who has “been there and done that.” Street smarts we call that in NYC. Tom Mahon read from a story “Desperate,” the tale of three wounded vets from three different wars. Tom, who presented a wonderful photomontage of his return to Vietnam at the last salon, is interested in the subject of returning vets who have difficulty rejoining society. Honor Molloy closed out the first half of the evening reading from her father’s memoir, Alive, Alive O.  In this scene, John Molloy, a well-known Dublin television actor is on the road with Percy the guinea pig tucked under his gansey. “ON TOUR with Ireland’s Fit-Up People. Fit up a curtain, put on a show.” Honor, as only Honor can do Honor.  (Gansey? I had to look that one up: … also known as guerney, or a seaman’s knitted sweater.) 

During the intermission I had a chance to speak with Ed Farrell who read from his memoir, A Mild Cognitive Impairment: An Unexpected Memoir. Ed said, “This whole process, our time together here, including the intermission and lingering around after the event is so important. I am able to share my thoughts with other writers and they with me. We need to reinforce each other.”  Well said and exactly what the salon is intended to be. 

Patricia Goldstone, another first time reader exposed the first few pages of a brand-new play. Jim Callahan and John Moss, who were kind enough to volunteer without knowing anything about Patricia’s work, couldn’t have been better. Patricia’s words say it best: “The highly sophisticated audience gave me incredibly positive feedback. When people tell me they want to hear more, that’s the best news I can get!” Perfect. 

John Kearns followed with a read from his novel-in-progress Worlds, in which Paul Logan, a drunken Englishman named Gavin, and Stephanie, the beautiful barmaid they are interested in, stop into a bar late one April night in Little Italy.  There they encounter Vinny DeAngelis who solicitously buys a cup of coffee for his favorite barmaid every night. John announced that fellow AWA members Richard Butler and Mark Butler are directing and helping produce his play In the Wilderness (whose main character is also Paul Logan).  For details and tickets, click here Planet Connections

Billy Barrett walked the gentler side of Highway Star last night. His touching and enlightening boyhood relationship with his foxy, funny guru-lady Charlie shows his versatility, the ability to ski the slippery slope of literary intimacy. Yeah, Billy can do it.  

And closing out the evening, up from Washington DC, was David Coles, who first read from his bookIn the Midnight Choir at last month’s Thalia salon. David describes his early days in Greenwich Village in the 1970′s, newly arrived from Colorado, trying to get used to the odd ways of the Easterner and finding his place in the very Irish group of people he’d suddenly found himself among. A well-read, excellent piece of writing, centered on a great slice and time of NYC life.

After this evening of great entertainment I had a thought I’ve had before: “This can’t get any better.  Can it?” I guess we’ll find out at the next salon on April 17 at 7PM at The Cell theatre, located at 338 W23rd Street.  For more information on the salons or joining the Irish American Artists & Writers contact Charles R. Hale

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