Irish American Writers & Artists

May 23, 2012

Mary Lou Quinlan Opens “The God Box”

Filed under: Literature,Television,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 1:20 pm
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At the Irish American Writers & Artist second salon, last July, Mary Lou Quinlan debuted her one-woman-show, “The God Box,” the story of Mary’s mother’s God Box, a private cache of notes to God on behalf of family, friends and strangers. In April, the book version of “The God Box” was released and has become an instant hit, appearing in the twelfth spot on the New York Times best seller list.
Mary Lou Quinlan has written inspirational features for Real Simple, O, the Oprah Magazine, and MORE, and other magazines and, is the author of the books Just Ask a Woman, Time Off for Good Behavior, and What She’s Not Telling You. She is the nation’s leading expert on female consumer behavior.

As the founder and CEO of marketing consultancy Just Ask a Woman and Mary Lou Quinlan & Co., she has interviewed thousands of women about their lives. Mary Lou has keynoted hundreds of conferences around the country; has appeared on television programs such as The CBS Early ShowGood Morning America, and the Today Show; and has been profiled in The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, and USA Today as well as many other media outlets.

Mary Lou is Jesuit-educated with an MBA from Fordham University. She also holds an honorary doctorate in Communications from her alma mater, Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where she earned a BA in English.

She and her husband, Joe Quinlan, live in New York City and Bucks County, Pennsylvania along with their dog, Rocky.

Enjoy a free selected chapter from The God Box.

May 18, 2012

The Latest from The Salon at The Cell

by Charles Hale

Todd Pate began the Irish American Writers & Artists’ Salon at The Cell reading an excerpt from his “non-fiction novel” in progress, Most of America, documenting a two-month Greyhound bus trip through the United States last year, and the people he met along the way.  (More excerpts will be published June 1st at The Straddler.)
Todd spoke of his Texas upbringing near the Mexican border and it was the perfect segue to a collaborative work produced by Larry Kirwan and me. Larry’s band, Black 47, recorded the tune “San Patricio Brigade,” which Larry wrote, and I created the short film using video clips of Black 47, old photos and art work. “San Patricio Brigade” is the story of Irish American immigrants who, upon arrival in America, joined the army, were sent to fight in the Mexican-American war, deserted, fought for the Mexicans and were eventually hanged.

John Kearns presented a scene from his play In The Wilderness which opens at the Bleecker Street Theatre on May 31st.  The cast included — Octavia Chavez-Richmond, Stephen Jangro, Marilyn Mineo, Edward Raube-Wilson, Hannah Timmons, Cristina Torres, and Nirayl Wilcox* (* Appearing courtesy of Actors Equity Association. Equity approved showcase.) In the scene, set in a South Bronx high school, Paul Logan sends Carmen Marquez, the student-poetess for whom he has the highest hopes, to the guidance counselor’s office for skipping school.  The tables are turned on Paul as Irish guidance counselor, Kate Farrell, warns Paul against getting too emotionally involved with Carmen.  I’m looking forward to the play’s opening on May 31 at the Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker Street. 

Guenevere Donohoe began her presentation by sharing the good news that she’s been cast as Queen Margaret in a production of Henry VI part III, which will open in NYC this summer. Great news for this very talented actress. Guen followed her announcement with a stirring performance from her play, Killer is My Name, a story about the mystery that was her father and growing up in the Bronx.

Kathleen Donohoe, recent winner of the Crossroads’ Irish-American writing contest, read an essay “The Wealth of the World” about her paternal grandparents, which was published in the April/May issue of Irish America magazine. Kathleen submitted the story over two years ago, thought it was passed over, and was pleased to learn  that the person in charge “Photo Album” feature of the magazine found it in a folder of old submissions, liked it and published it.

I was moved by the last paragraph in Kathleen’s article:

“When I look at this picture, so ordinary before you know, I think about how for each piece of a family story that you’ve heard, there is another and another still that will remain strong in a dry throat, a poem in a closed book. And I think as well of this Irish proverb:

A tune is more lasting than the song of birds,
And a word is more lasting than the wealth of the world.”

Jim Rodgers returned to read an excerpt from his Sunnyside novel, Long Night’s End. This time he chose an excerpt a bit lighter than the last. Reading from an early chapter in the novel, Johnny Gunn comes face to face on the elevated 7 train with the voluptuous Molly Farrell, a woman he has avoided since their steamy affair resulted in Johnny losing his faith, his soul, and a whole lot more. The mixture of fear and desire Johnny feels on the 7 train is only relieved by Molly’s departure at the Lexington Avenue stop. I suspect we have not seen the last of Molly Farrell.

Tom Mahon read a personal essay, “The Church & Its Flock,” which arose from the outrage he feels from familial betrayal and hypocrisy. Tom wrote of how he assumed that he knew his family, believing they cared for each other and would never do anything to hurt the other, but he learned he was badly mistaken.  He believes his heathen ancestors would be appalled at his family’s materialistic values and longs for the “Chieftian of their Pagan tribe” to put an end to the behavior since, as Tom writes, “The  destruction of a family is the destruction of the tribe.” Another fine story from a versatile and talented writer. 

David Coles read a passage from his unpublished book, In the Midnight Choir, following the conversation between a bartender and 3 of the bar’s regulars as they wend through the hours of an empty Sunday night, the haggard aftermath of a long hard weekend in Greenwich Village in the 1970’s. Superb writing and a book that I’m sure will land a publisher very quickly. 

Stephanie Silber closed out the evening with a wonderful reading from her novel The Dark Side of Time, a psychological thriller with elements of horror and the supernatural.  The novel’s protagonists have relocated from Brooklyn with their toddler daughter to a fixer-upper cottage in the suburbs with a dark past.  Dreams, visions and things that go bump in the night ensue immediately, and the sinister triad of recently arrived lay residents in the vacant convent next door ratchet up the dread.

The novel’s themes include an examination of our troubled times and who and what we worship, as well as what parts of ourselves we’d sell out to get what we think we need.

The IAW&A salons take place on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Thalia Cafe, located at 95th and Broadway and The Cell theatre located at 338 W. 23rd Street, respectively. For more information on the salons or joining the Irish American Artists and Writers contact me, Charles R. Hale at

General Membership Meeting, June 5th at Irish Consulate

Filed under: Events — by johnleemedia @ 4:15 pm

General Membership Meeting

The time has arrived for our annual meeting of the IAW&A general membership, a lively affair that takes place at the Irish Consulate in Manhattan, located at 345 Park Avenue. This is a great opportunity for members to meet one another and also speak their mind to the Board of Directors about the direction of the organization. This year there are a number of items on the agenda, including:

1)     Announcing this year’s selection for the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award. Be among the first to hear who will be honored this year at our annual O’Neill Award fundraiser on October 15. Announcement to be made by Malachy McCourt.

2)     Forming members into committees. The general membership meeting is a time for members to step forward and become more involved by joining various committees (events committee, membership committee, fundraising committee, and a committee to explore the launching of a digital literary magazine).

3)     The Frank McCourt Scholarship Fund. One of our major new initiatives is to institute a regular scholarship, to be given out each year to a graduating student at Frank McCourt High School who has distinguished him-or-herself in writing. We will introduce this new initiative to the general membership and form a special committee to oversee the development of what will be one of our most important new undertakings.

The general membership meeting is open to ALL MEMBERS. We highly encourage all members who can to attend. Remember to bring ID, as you will be passing through building security to attend the meeting.


When: June 5, 2012

Time: 6 pm
Where: Irish Consulate/ 345 Park Ave/ 17th floor
Click Here to RSVP


May 17, 2012

Irish American Writers & Artists to Co-Sponsor Event Honoring Pete Hamill

Filed under: Events,Film,Literature,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 5:36 pm
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New York New Belfast Conference Celebrates Writer’s Belfast Roots

Discounted tickets for IAW&A Members

The Irish American Writers & Artists (IAW&A) is co-sponsoring the opening night reception of the New York New Belfast (NYNB) Conference on Wed., June 13, and co-producing the evening’s featured event, a tribute to writer, journalist, IAW&A Advisory Board member and Irish Echo Irish American of the Year, Pete Hamill.

IAW&A members are invited to attend opening night for the reduced price of $20 (regular price is $50). NYNB Conference will be held at the Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus.

“The most important Irish American organization in the nation is the Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc.,” event organizer Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said.  “So it’s a pleasure to have them partner the Irish Echo in a special night at the New York-New Belfast summit honoring the most important Irish American writer of our time, Pete Hamill, who, with both parents hailing from Belfast, has Made in Belfast stamped all over him.”

Hamill started his career as a reporter for the “New York Post “in 1960. He is the only person to be editor of both New York tabloid newspapers, the “Post” and “Daily News.” He also worked as a columnist, has written articles for numerous magazines and has even written screenplays. Hamill is the author of 20 books, including the novel “Snow in August” and his best-selling memoir “A Drinking Life.”

Planned for the tribute are a short video, remarks by IAW&A president T.J. English and Terry George, the Oscar-winning producer of “The Shore” and some oratory from the honoree.

“No writer has ever given more eloquent expression to the Irish-American soul than Pete Hamill,” IAW&A past president Peter Quinn said.  “He’s been our voice and our conscience, constantly reminding us of who we are, where we come from, and the ties we share with working people and immigrants of all colors, creeds and backgrounds. In my reckoning he deserves to be Irish-American of the Century as well as the year.”

In addition to the Hamill tribute, NYNB Opening Night includes a full schedule of presentations and panel discussions.

Organized by the The Irish Echo and the Belfast Media Group, the annual NYNB Conference will spotlight the bridges of progress and prosperity being built between the citizens of the two great cities of New York and Belfast, looking optimistically to the future while celebrating our shared past.

In addition to the reduced opening night ticket price, IAW&A members can attend both days of the conference, June 13 -14, which includes lunch on Friday for $110 (regular price $200).

For more information and to reserve tickets, go to

May 12, 2012

Invitation to “Smarty Girl” Audio Book Launch with Music, Song and Storytelling

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:18 pm
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Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage

An Audio Book Launch with Music, Song and Storytelling

in association with Irish American Writers and Artists

Tuesday, May 15 | 7:30 pm

A magical evening of music and story that conjures a vanished Dublin.

“Honor Molloy makes a most memorable debut with this fiercely funny portrait of the artist as a young girl…Noleen O’Feeney is irreverent, sarcastic, resilient, engaging, entertaining, and wise beyond her years. I didn’t want the book to end. ”
-Peter Quinn, Banished Children of Eve and Looking for Jimmy

Author Honor Molloy joins forces with actor Aedin Moloney (Dancing at Lughansa), author Kevin Holohan and Grammy Award-winner Susan McKeown to celebrate the publication of Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage. Molloy’s autobiographical novel is a tender, irresistible and raucous portrait of 1960s Dublin, as seen through the eyes of a precocious little girl with a fierce imagination. Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage will come alive with readings by Moloney, Holohan and Molloy, and music sung by McKeown.

Honor Molloy holds an MFA from Brown University and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Born in Dublin, Honor Molloy lives in Brook

“as much as I love the book, Smarty Girl lives in the ear…this is an ensemble piece and Susan’s music is essential…”
– Honor Molloy

Admission: FREE

Reserve through or 866-811-4111

IAW&A Members Launch “San Patricio Brigade” Video

Filed under: Film,Literature,Television,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:05 pm
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IAW&A members Larry Kirwan and Charles R. Hale have collaborated on a video, “San Patricio Brigade,” the story of nineteenth-century Irish immigrants who arrived in NYC, joined the army, and were sent off to fight in the Mexican American War.
Led by John Reilly, a number of the Irish, disgusted with their treatment at the hand of anti-Catholic officers, deserted and joined the Mexican cause. Many of the soldiers were captured, convicted and hanged for treason; Ireland and Mexico, however, commemorate the lives of these men.
Larry wrote the song, which Black 47 performs, and Charles added photos, artwork and video clips to create this short film.
A special thanks to Stephanie Silber and Vic Zimet for uncovering a number of Black 47’s video clips.

May 7, 2012

Report: The Irish Mexican Alliance

Filed under: Events,Music,Social Activism — by tjenglish @ 9:40 pm

IAW&A President T.J. ENGLISH reports on THE IRISH MEXICAN ALLIANCE event, which last week took El Paso, TX by storm and raised money for Amor por Juarez, a charity dealing with the devastation of the narco war in the U.S.-Mexico borderland.

About one hour into The Irish Mexican Alliance benefit concert, held last April 28 in El Paso, Texas, I knew we were on to something special.

Celtic songstress ASHLEY DAVIS had taken the stage and begun to play the familiar opening strains of the song “On Raglan Road” on her guitar, accompanied by fiddler MEGAN HURT. Quietly, without much introduction, Ashley was joined on stage by VELIA CHRISTINA, a beautiful and talented Chicana singer based in El Paso.

Like most Irish Americans, I’ve heard “On Raglan Road” hundreds of times in my life, but never before had I heard a version like this.

Ashley and Velia sang alternating verses, Ashley’s in English and Velia’s in Spanish. It was stunningly beautiful, and at that moment, with these two lovely and talented women exchanging verses of a song in two different languages, the entire emotional impact of The Irish Mexican Alliance was captured in this simple musical duet.

The Irish Mexican Alliance began in 2010 as a way to call attention to the horrendous toll the U.S.-Mexico narco war has taken on Mexico and, by extension, the Southwest borderland region of the U.S. Our first event was in New York City in October 2010. It set the standard for what we hope will be a recurring barnstorming tour of benefit concert events around the U.S.

From the beginning, the idea was to draw on what we felt was a special spiritual and historical connection between people of Irish and Mexican descent. Specifically, the inspiration for the Alliance is to be found in the story of the San Patricio Battalion, a group of mostly Irish American soldiers who, in the war between the U.S. and Mexico in 1845-48, deserted the U.S. army to fight on behalf of the Mexican people. Many of these soldiers were captured, put on trial for treason, and executed in the largest mass execution by hanging in the history of the North American continent.

For those who know this history, the sacrifices made by the San Patricios is a call not to battle, or a call to war, it is a call to do what is right. Today, in the early decades of the 21st Century, the human rights tragedy of the narco war has become an assault on democracy. The goal of the Irish Mexican Alliance is to raise awareness about this ongoing tragedy, particularly as it relates to the issue of journalists in Mexico who are being murdered, threatened and forced to seek political asylum in the U.S. for doing their job i.e. covering the narco war in Mexico.

 It was no accident that after the success of our initial event in Manhattan we decided to take this initiative to El Paso, in the heart of the borderland. There is not a huge Irish American presence in El Paso, but the issues that the Alliance is attempting to address – human rights violations, the assault on journalists, the staggering death toll and emotional devastation of the narco war – is front-and-center in El Paso as it is in few other cities in the U.S. Butted up against Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican border city that has for years now been one of the most volatile battlegrounds in the narco war, the people of El Paso are living these issues on a daily basis. They are especially well positioned to hear the call of the Irish Mexican Alliance.


The public relations and awareness aspects of the Alliance began even before the event was underway. The media in El Paso was intrigued by this event; we received advance coverage in the El Paso Times, the city’s main daily newspaper, and in What’s Up, a weekly news and entertainment paper and website. Our event producer in El Paso, VALENTIN SANDOVAL, a poet and activist, had set up interviews for us with three of the biggest radio talk shows in the borderland.

One of those shows, in particular, was instructive. I had been warned in advance that although the Buzz Adams Radio Show had huge ratings that made it well-worth doing, I should be prepared that Adams tended towards scatological humor and irreverence, and that he aspired to be a kind of Howard Stern of the borderland. When we did the interview, however, I was surprised to find out that Buzz was, in fact, a man of conscience. He knew the history of the San Patricios and took the event seriously. It was an expertly conducted half-hour interview during the popular 7:30 a.m. drive-time slot on the most highly rated show in the region, and it set the tone for how the event would be received by the local populace.

Graphic artist ADOLFO ALVARADO created a spectacular logo design and poster for the event that became an instant collector’s item. T-shirts were created by SABA, a printer and old-school Native American (Navajo) craftsman based in Las Cruses, NM, a one-hour drive from El Paso.

One afternoon, when Valentin and I drove to Las Cruses to check on the t-shirts, something occurred that we took as a good omen. In Las Cruces, we stopped at a bar called Dublin’s to put up posters and have a beer. A man at the bar spotted our poster and asked if he could look it over. He told us he was a local criminal defense attorney originally born in the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua that encompasses Ciudad Juárez. Upon looking over the poster, he was noticeably moved. “The San Patricios, “ he said. “I know all about this history. This is an important thing you are doing.” He pledged to attend the event and bring as many friends and associates as he could. Then he said to the barmaid, “I insist on paying for their drinks. These guys are doing God’s work.”


On an outdoor patio stage at the historic San Carlos Building, the show kicked off with a set by the San Patricios, a local traditional Irish music band. In keeping with the theme of the Alliance, which mixes local acts with visiting musicians, Ashley Davis from NYC joined the band for a song or two. The San Patricios then gave way to Velia Christina, who gave way to BOBBY BYRD, who, along with being an accomplished poet, is co-founder of Cinco Punto Press, a small book publisher that is an important cultural institution in El Paso.

The show began at 6 pm, in daylight, with people trickling in from dinner, home, or other events taking place elsewhere in the city. As the sun set, the beautiful sky over downtown took on an amber hue, and the event transitioned from a coffee house atmosphere, with informational asides and instrumentalists and vocalists, into an outright celebration. The band that led the charge was RADIO LA CHUSMA, a rousing reggae-Mex band with a world beat consciousness that captured the spirit of the crowd. From then on, it was a night of dancing, some hot spoken word, and some of the best music the borderland region has to offer.

There were so many highlights it is hard to mention them all: GRISELDA “LA RANA” MUÑOZ, a dynamic local poet, read “No Apologies,” a riveting feminist statement of principle; LAWRENCE WELSH, a highly accomplished Irish American poet, expertly represented the El Paso Irish with poems from his recently published collection “Begging for Vultures”;  MYRLIN HEPWORTH, a rising spoken word artist from Phoenix – half Chicano, half Irish – so wanted to be a part of the event that he drove through the night to arrive in El Paso at 1 a.m. on the day of the show. Standing under a glorious desert sky, complete with half moon and stars, Myrlin dazzled the audience with his presentation of “Columbus,” a poem that is equal parts street rap and history lesson.


Musically, the evening offered almost more talent than any one event could contain. Along with the San Patricios, Ashley Davis, Velia Christina, and Radio La Chusma, there was MEXKLAN, a hot Mexican rock band based across the border in Juárez, and FRONTERA BUGALU.

Having played at the very first Irish Mexican Alliance event in New York, Frontera Bugalu is now virtually the house band of the Alliance. With accordion player and front man KIKO RODRÍGUEZ setting the tone, and RAMÓN VILLA-HERNÁNDEZ on base guitar, Bugalu plays an infectious mix of cumbia, norteno and salsa that had everyone there dancing under the stars. Accompanied by guiro player and vocalist GRISEL RODRIGUEZ – a classic Mexican American beauty – the band presented an original mix of  traditional and contemporary sounds that moved the audience from celebration to meditation and back again. It was the perfect way to wrap up a spectacular evening of entertainment.

Of course, the evening wasn’t only about music and good times. Midway through the night, a spokesperson from AMOR POR JUÁREZ, the charitable organization this event was designed to benefit, spoke about the situation in Mexico. Ciudad Juárez and El Paso form a cross-national border culture that is unique to the U.S.. They are, in a way, flip sides of the same city, equal parts Mexican and American. The devastation of the narco war has cast a shadow over El Paso; there is hardly a local family that hasn’t been affected in some way. Amor por Juárez, through events, fund raising and a campaign of awareness-raising, has been trying to focus attention on the crisis, and, on this night, the Irish Mexican Alliance was honored to have them at our side.


If you ever wondered how or why we believe there is a spiritual connection between people of Irish and Mexican descent, all you have to do is attend a gathering of the Irish Mexican Alliance. To look out over a crowd of people – brown and white – in a state of mutual celebration through conversation, dancing, drinking, music and poetry, across lines of language and culture, it would hit you in the head like a corned beef and cabbage burrito. The Alliance is real. And it continues to grow every day.

The San Patricios died for the Mexican people, because they believed it was the right thing to do. We honor their sacrifice by attempting to harness this history and bring it into the present day, to use this history as a means to focus on a contemporary crisis that should be of concern to everyone.

It is our hope to do future events in other cities, bringing people together under the banner of the Irish Mexican Alliance. Although we choose to call attention to what we believe is a special connection between Irish and Mexican people, the Alliance is, in truth, a symbolic alliance meant to represent the coming together of all people across cultures, continents, borders and racial divides. If you are down with that, you are down with the Irish Mexican Alliance.

(Special thanks to the following people for contributions beyond the call of duty on behalf of the El Paso Irish Mexican Alliance: NORMA CHAVEZ, activist and popular radio host of “Border Talk,” who allowed myself and Valentin to come on her show and promote the event; ADAM MARSHALL, highly skilled event organizer who has his own wildly popular event in El Paso called “La Parada”; FRANCISCO MARTINEZ, senor suave, who designed Facebook and web pages for us; LEO DE FRANK, activist and web magazine creator whose new site, Orbis Forum News (OBN), has created a documentary about the event; LETICIA “LETTY” GURROLA, the chula of all chulas, who graced us with her presence and expertly handled raffle duties for the event.)

PHOTOS: Erick “Chuco” Chavez

Aedin Moloney in a Conversation Among Queens–free event at IAC, May 9

This Wednesday night, May 9, IAW&A member, Aedin Moloney, will be performing in the Fallen Angel Theatre Company’s reading of “The Conversation,” at the Irish Arts Center. Admission is free. 
The Conversation by Dennis Michael Corcoran

In 1593 Gráinne Ní Mháille (Granuaile / Grace O’Malley), the Irish pirate queen made the journey to London to meet Queen Elizabeth I, played by Aedin.
While this meeting and its outcome are historical facts, there is no record of what transpired between these two powerful women.
This is the story of their conversation.

Directed by Paula D’Alessandris
Featuring Daniel Damiano, Ruth Kavanagh and Aedín Moloney
The Irish Arts Center
553 West 51st Street
(btwn 10th & 11th Aves)
New York, NY 10019
Wednesday, 9th May 2012 at 7pm

Reservations required:
Please Email: or
Call: (201) 590-9357

May 4, 2012

Writing & Storytelling Workshop with Honor Molloy

“I have seen many perform their written work over the last forty years, but it is easy to say that Honor Molloy, on the page or in person, is one of the very best I have ever experienced.”  

– Stanley Crouch, critic, columnist, novelist

Enjoy a day discussing your fiction, connecting with fellow writers and learning strategies to address how to face open mics.

Honor Molloy will lead a writing and storytelling workshop for fiction writers. In this class, writers will explore several aspects of the short story in a craft discussion and get their creative juices flowing with writing exercises and prompts. This workshop will also be focused on reading your writing in public, which can bring awareness to the tone, pacing and word choice of your story. Participants should come to the workshop with a completed story, ready to be shared with the group. Honor Molloy will offer writers tips and give each person a chance to rehearse with an audience of fellow writers to gain concentration and confidence.


For new and practicing writers. Limited to 15 students.

Fee: $50 non-member of IAC / $45 IAC member, senior or student under 16

Register through or 866-811-4111 

May 3, 2012

From Bing to Malachy at Thalia Salon

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 8:56 pm
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Bing’s been gone for quite some time now and it’s May, not December, but Jim Callahan was in fine voice crooning a few lines from “White Christmas,” which Sheila Walsh incorporated into her reading from Mr. Tweety’s Neighbors during Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers & Artists’s Salon at the Thalia Cafe.  Jim also read stage directions as Sheila gave an impassioned and lyrical reading from her play. Well done, Sheila and John.
The evening began on two positive notes: Maura Mulligan announced that her book launch for Call of the Lark will be May 10 at the Irish Consulate on Park Avenue in New York City and John Kearns announced that his play, In the Wildernessopens on May 31. There will be a luncheon following the June 9th 11:30 performance at Puck Fair located at 298 Lafayette Street in NYC.
Kevin McPartland opened the evening reading from chapter four of his novel Brownstone Dreams. The action takes place in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and involves a near mugging, and the book’s protagonist Bobby Dutton and his girlfriend Cathy’s lucky escape from danger.  What better way to start a New York evening than with Kevin, a real “Brooklyn” soul.
 Tom Mahon followed with a story called “Joy: about a couple married nearly 40 years who dont’ know how to break the news to the other that they don’t want to be married anymore.  The husband makes the plunge, and the wife readily agrees.  Tom’s writing brings civility and humor to the process and brings out the fact that people can spend half their life with a person and still not know them or what they want. 
In addition to his vocal skills, Jim Callahan read from a book in progress, “The Boys from Bohola,” about the brothers O’Dwyer- William, the city’s mayor from 1946 to 1950 and later Ambassador to Mexico and Paul, who was a noted labor and civil rights lawyer for sixty years and served as City Council President from 1974 to 1977; Jim was on his staff.  In the scene Jim read, FDR summons William O’Dwyer to the White House in 1944 to put him in charge of the War Refugee Board, its mission to house, clothe and feed the millions of people who had been displaced during and after World War II. Jim read of O’Dwyer’s self-doubts and what an honor O’Dwyer felt it was to be chosen for the job.
New member Jim Rodgers got off to a great start with an impressive reading from his novel Long Night’s End.  The story is based on the protagonist, Johnny Gunn, and takes place in Sunnyside, Queens and Manhattan.  Themes explored in the novel include Catholicism and Irish-American New Yorkers, friendship, loss, sin, addiction, and ultimately the road to redemption. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this new member.
Keeping with the theme of his soon to open play, In the Wildernesswhich is about an all-girls high school in the South Bronx,  John read “It’s All Abandoned,” a short story from his book, Dreams and Dull Realities, about a teenage girl’s disappointing experience at a school dance in the 1980’s South Bronx.   
Kathleen Lawrence, always looking for the edgy angle from her family that never quits giving, read from her memoir-in-progress Becoming Irish. Kathleen read from a passage that described how she was falsely accused of causing her second-stepmother’s miscarriage after her sixty-five year old father impregnated her for the twelfth time.  Gives new meaning, I suppose, to “never stops giving.”
Mark Donnelly followed with another compelling scene from his play Mother Jones, the Irish immigrant who played an important role as a union organizer in the American Labor Movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The scene takes place earlier in her life, during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee in 1867.  Mary (later Mother) Jones lost her husband, George, and their four young children to yellow fever.
Robert Haydon Jones, who read a terrific crime story at the last Thalia salon, followed up with another winner, “The Good Nazi.” The story revolves around a couple who meet a survivor of the Nazi slave labor camps of WWII, on a weekend vacation at an old-line, seaside hotel in Rhode Island. Another powerful reading.
And as has become the Thalia salon custom, Malachy McCourt, wrapped things up with an hilarious poem, “The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered” and closed out the entertainment portion of the evening with his wonderful rendition of “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”
And finally, a big thanks to John Kearns who filled in as emcee for Tuesday’s night’s salon. On all accounts he did a great job. Thank you so much for stepping up on such short notice, John.
The next salon will be at The Cell theatre, located at 338 W.23rd St. The events begin at 7PM. For more information about the salons please contact Charles R. Hale at or if you’d like more information about the organization you can go directly to the Irish American Writers & Artists website.
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