Irish American Writers & Artists

July 29, 2012

Cat Dwyer’s Camera Captures Salon at The Cell

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July 27, 2012

Sounds of The Salon at the Cell

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Music was featured during Tuesday night’s Salon at The Cell. Brothers Moley and Owen Suillebhain offered a blend of ancient Irish sacred songs with modern pop tunes and mesmerized the audience with a brilliant musical performance. Particularly moving was a Gregorian Latin Chant, “Caminus Ardebat.” Liam O’Connell, the first rap artist to appear at a salon, inspired the audience with his 
pulsating sounds and rhythms and the opening of Charles Hale’s video, Fathers, Sons and Baseball, was set to the American baseball classic, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Singer, songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the show reading from her unpublished memoir Transatlantic Butterflies & the November Moon, a story that takes the reader on a journey across America, where Tara replicated her Waterford Granny’s 1957 road trip in a Chevy Bel Air, searching for the spirit of the immigrant grandmother she never met, as well as the spirit of America during a time of economic uncertainty. She convinced Chevrolet to pay for her symbolic migration. The iconic car company was inspired by her quest to chase not only her Granny’s spirit, but also the spirit of America to find out if the American dream still exists.
Bestselling author, Jeanine Cummins read from her latest book, The Outside Boy, and it was as “gloriously poetic’ as Malachy McCourt claimed. Jeanine promised to come back soon and read from her latest novel, which she is putting the finishing touches on with an eye toward publication in March. Actor Jack O’Connell did double duty, reading witticisms from the twentieth century sports writer, Jimmy Cannon, and reading from playwright Janet Noble’s work in progress.  Janet described her work as a “ghost play” based on the life and death of her brother. And past contributor and wonderful writer, Brendan Connellan, dipped into his novel-in-progress Mr Big Shot and regaled and entertained us with a bizarre tale of a deer being shot, a daughter being hidden and a man wondering how to best remove a carcass from the middle of his flower bed, especially one riddled with bullets.
First time presenter Kathleen Walker read her poem “Forever Family Secrets,” which was just accepted for publication in the New York Irish History Roundtable Journal. Her poem speaks of her journey to find her culture, which began in high school when her English teacher asked her what “Parish” she belonged to. She had no idea. Due to extreme feelings of loss during her early life, she came to realize that she had to put the pieces of her existence together. “Forever Family Secrets” is part of her journey.
Caroline Winterson, actor extraordinaire, joined Honor Molloy in reading “Three Bits From Three Plays.” Caroline and Honor read brief scenes from Maiden Voyages (written by Bronagh Murphy and Honor Molloy), Crackskull Row and Kick. The Cell was a fantastic place to display these snippets as the two wonderful actresses flung their voices to the ceiling, the backwalls and beyond.</d

Billy Barrett followed Hale’s baseball video, a remembrance of pleasant times spent with his father that centered on their love of baseball. Keeping with the baseball theme, Billy was the evening’s “closer.”  “Given the tremendous succession of pure talent that graced the cathedral, closing the show was not an easy task,” Billy said. Billy’s book, Highway Star reeks of the kind of scathing comical gas that makes all great closers…great. With a few selections from the “Punch Line” chapter, he walked to the mound, threw nothing but strikes and calmly retired the side….
It was a great evening and as Owen O’Suillebhain noted, “The Irish American Writers Salon is a hotbed of talent.  A very receptive and generous listening fills the space.”
Well said.
The next salon will be at the Thalia Café on August 7th. For more information on the salons or joining the Irish American Writers and Artists contact Charles R. hale at

July 26, 2012


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July 23, 2012

Salon at The Cell this Tuesday!

The Irish American Writers & Artists’ popular Salon at The Cell will happen a bit later in the month that usual, this Tues., July 24, starting at 7 PM.  On tap, a reading from a novel in progress, a trial run of a scene from a play, an off beat video, a traditional Irish song…who knows?  You have to show up to find out at this FREE fun event.

To return to IAW&A website, click here:

July 17, 2012

Alphie & Malachy McCourt Featured at Memoir Festival

August 10-12 in Rhinebeck NY


Omega’s third annual Memoir Festival brings together celebrated memoirists along with new and seasoned writers who have real stories to tell and the courage to turn them into art. This weekend event is a unique opportunity to steep yourself in an art form that is on the cutting edge of literature today.

This year’s program includes Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog and Townie); Peter Birkenhead (Gonville), Melissa Coleman (This Life Is In Your Hands), and Linda St. John (Even Dogs Go Home to Die). They are joined by the inimitable McCourt brothers, Alphie and Malachy. The weekend is hosted by Fred Poole and Marta Szabo, directors of Authentic Writing.

Memoir, with its commitment to the artist’s own story and life, insists that writers take their own story seriously. It turns the writer inward to the true source of all art. This profound journey takes us from a story in our mind, where logic can prevail, to paper, where art and self-discovery take over and suddenly the outcome to any story is not so fixed.

This weekend you have time to explore and experiment with your own writing, as well as listen to and question some of the most outstanding memoirists in the nation. Through interactive writing workshops, discussions, readings, and the exhilarating chance to share your own work in public, you explore the art and craft of memoir in a beautiful and inspiring natural setting.

For More information, go to:

July 14, 2012

Change in Regular Salon at The Cell Schedule–Next Salon, July 24

The date for the next Salon at the Cell has been CHANGED. The  Salon that had been scheduled for Tues., July 17 will instead be held on Tues., July 24 at 7 pm.

Looking forward to seeing everyone then!

July 10, 2012

Sixties Icon Judy Collins to Receive Eugene O’Neill Award

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Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc., (IAW&A) has named Judy Collins as the recipient of the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012.

“Few American artists have sustained a career in popular music that is as exceptional and iconic as Judy Collins,” said IAW&A co-founder and president T.J. English. “Beginning in the early 1960s, with her role in the emergence of the folk music phenomenon, and through the rock ‘n roll explosion and cultural upheavals of the late-60s and early-70s, Judy’s pristine voice and beautiful songs gave clarity and hope to an entire generation. She has maintained that same level of artistry ever since.”

With a career that has spanned five decades, Collins recorded and performed music with the greatest singers of her era, everyone from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Joni Mitchell and, more recently, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. Along with performing her own songs, she has brought her inimitable style to classics by the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Dylan. Some of her best-known renditions, including “Both Sides Now,” “Amazing Grace” and “Send in the Clowns,” have been Top 40 hits. She has recorded 38 albums and won numerous music awards, including two Grammys. She is also an author of five books – three memoirs, a self-help book, and a novel. In 1975, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her co-direction of a feature-length documentary about her classical piano instructor.

Upon being informed of her selection for the award, Collins said, “I am thrilled and honored to be given this wonderful award named after the great Eugene O’Neill. I have always believed that, in my heart, I am first and foremost a storyteller descended from a long line of Irish storytellers and balladeers. It is a great tribute to be mentioned alongside O’Neill; I will gladly be there to accept the award.”

Malachy McCourt, actor, author, IAW&A co-director, and a personal friend of Collins’ since the late-1960s, said, “Judy sings like an angel but has the strength of an iron worker. Her career has been like a beacon of light, even though – as befalls us all over a full life – she has known tragedy and despair.”

The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2009 to honor the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician, or cultural institution that has sustained a body of work that best exemplifies the level of integrity maintained by O’Neill. The inaugural recipient was Pulitzer-prize winning author William Kennedy. The other recipients have been actor Brian Dennehy and the co-founders of New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre, Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly.

The award, created by Tiffany & Co., will be presented Mon., Oct. 15, 2012 at a celebration to be held at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square, just a few blocks from where Eugene O’Neill was born. Ticketing information will be available soon at the IAW&A website.

For more information on the IAW&A, visit the organization’s website at or Facebook page for updates and information.

July 7, 2012

Cool & Convivial July Salon at Bar Thalia

Day after the big holiday,  sweltering summer night and a shift in date for the Salon, and still they came…new members too! 
It was a wonderful night at last night’s Irish American Writers & Aritsts’ salon at the Thalia Cafe. Best selling author and new member Jeanine Cummins joined us and mentioned she plans to read from her novel in progress at The Cell on July 17th.  Singer-songwriter Tara O’Grady closed the eveing with a song she wrote called “Goodnight Nora,” off her second album, Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.  And photographer Cat Dwyer photos capture the relaxed and convivial atmosphere of Thursday’s salon. 
Mary Gannon began the evening presenting a creative non-fiction piece on a Memorial Day visit to New York’s Tenement museum.  A poignant tribute to 19th century Irish immigrants and their plight, combined with a reflection on her own immigrant childhood.  Mary announced that she plans an essay collection on immigrants, both past and present.
John Kearns read an excerpt from Worlds, his novel in progress about four generations of the Logan family. In the excerpt, Janey Logan, nee Dougherty, reminisces about the night in the late 1950s on which she met James Logan, the man she would later marry, at a traditional Irish music session in West Philadelphia. John announced that his poem, “Transmigration of Soul,” appears in the current issue of the North American Review, published July 1st. 
Jim Rodgers returned and read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End. Johnny Gunn, having been thrown out of his home for his drinking and now living in a flophouse on the Lower East Side, is confronted by his wife Rose about his affair with Molly Farrell– an affair all the more evident as Molly is eight months pregnant. After hearing the truth, Rose, with her heart broken and her Irish up, leaves Johnny to his drinking, his demons, and his continuing spiral into his own private hell. Jim assures us that there will be redemption for Johnny, but where it will come from is anybody’s guess. Terrific writing.
Jim Callaghan presented an essay that dealt with his sometimes humorous, at other times sad views on labor unions, including his own experience in 1966 when he was instructed by his colleagues at the Post Office not to work so fast. He concludes that bad behavior by some union leaders and occasional featherbedding can’t hold a candle to the trillions of dollars stolen in America’s history by oil companies, the Robber Barons, banks, health insurers, some Wall Street operatives and baseball owners.
IAW&A board member John Lee, who last presented about a year ago when he read a blogpost off his cell phone, printed out his copy this time, reading a theater review he wrote for New York Irish Arts that also appeared in Huffington Post. In “Who Speaks for Ireland? Rebel Voices Have Their Say”, Lee gave the double bill of Blood by Larry Kirwan and Dancing at Lunacy by Seamus Scanlon a spirited “Two Thumbs Up” (or should that be “Four Thumbs Up” as it was a double bill?).  Lee gave kudos to  actor Paul Nugent, who starred in both plays, for his performance in Dancing with Lunacy where he crafted “an indelibly rendered character named McGowan, an offbeat wiseass, fuelled by manic energy and freshly brewed tea, a pop music-loving, gun-toting, Clockwork Orange-caliber sociopath for the Republican cause.”
Kate McLeod performed a character study in the form of a letter from 14-year old Abby to her friend Love who is in a State Hospital.  In the letter we learn that her much older boyfriend has been put away for possession of 120 kilos of marijuana and that her mother is an alcoholic. We learn how humiliated and traumatized Abby was when her mother would jump on her with public demands to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”  “I would’ve said thank you by myself,” says Abby.  And lastly we learn that Abby would rather be in the state hospital with Love than at home because her father has slept in the same bed with her since she was eight.  A poignant work.
When she was fifteen, Maura Mulligan served pints in a pub in Mayo. Reading from her powerful new memoir, Call of the Lark, Maura beautifully shared the rich conversation of Kilkelly cattle dealers and the gossip she overheard in the snug. Maura will begin a book tour of Ireland next week. 
Tom Mahon, a wonderful reader who possesses a very fine voice, read the second half of a short story of a girl who preservers in the face of great adversity at a young age in 1951. Instead of giving into despair, as is the case so often today, this girl has the difficulties she encounters empower to become educated so she can be in a position to help others, and be effective in changing young girls’ lives. 
Essay and memoir are the forms that most interest me as a writer,” said new IAW&A member Ed McCann.  Last night Ed read “Big Sister,” a chapter about sibling love — and tyranny — from his recently completed memoir.   Ed, a native of both Queens and Brooklyn, is a former television writer/producer and a contributing editor for Country Living magazine.
Kathleen Frazier read from her provocative work-in-progress, Somniloquies: a memoir of sleepwalking. Actress-turned-writer, Kathleen chose a shorter piece of prose and reeled us in with her riveting pacing.  Kathleen’s currently working on the book proposal for her memoir after a successful essay on sleepwalking in the April issue of Psychology Today. A powerful performance by a talented writer and reader.  
Join us for the next salon at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd Street, 7PM on July 17th. For more info on joining the IAW&A or the salons contact Charles R. Hale at

July 2, 2012

July’s First Tuesday of the Month Salon shifts to First Thursday

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IAW&A Salons are normally held on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month but with the Independence Day holiday this week The first of the monthly Salons has been moved to Thurs, July 5th, 7PM, at Bar Thalia, Symphony Space at Broadway and 95th, NYC,

All are welcome to attend and enjoy as IAW&A members try out a scene from a play, a passage from a book, their latest song and more.

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