Irish American Writers & Artists

December 23, 2012

Final Salon of 2012: An Evening of Music, Poetry, Drama, Prose, and Dance

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By John Kearns

Musicians & singer_WREN_DAY

On Tuesday, December 18th, at the Cell Theatre on Manhattan’s West 23rd Street, a standing-room-only crowd enjoyed the final Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon of 2012, an evening full of music, poetry, drama, prose, and dance.

We started off the evening with a round of applause for Charles Hale, who has stepped down from MCing and organizing the Salons and from the IAW&A Board of Directors.  We appreciate all of the hard work Charles put into building and running the Salon and we wish him well on his new project, Artists Without Walls.

Michele Cetera read a poignant tribute about her friend, Ivor Panell, who died of complications of sickle cell anemia at age forty six.  She then performed a high energy dance with partner Ricardo Villa to help the audience visualize Ivor’s spirit, endurance, and spunk.  He never let his disease bring him down. Through dance, he was able to embrace life and see all the color and beauty around him.  The dance/story was entilted, “Ode to a Friend.”

Arnine Cumsky Weiss took to the stage next to read a chapter from her new novel, She Ain’t Heavy,about loyalty and friendship and second chances.  Her publisher, Academy Chicago, will launch the e-book within the next two weeks and the hard copy in February/March.  We look forward to the book’s publication. arnine_weiss

Sarah Fearon and Jack O’Connell performed a first reading from Act I, Scene I of John Ford Noonan’s Conversations with Chekhov.  Sarah and Jack wanted to pay tribute to John Ford Noonan, who is now sixty nine and in an assisted living facility.  This piece was just one slice from his humorous cannon of work.  Jack’s friend, Tom Nohilly, states that Mr. Noonan has heard about the readings Sarah and Jack are doing and is glad to hear about them.  Sarah and Jack will probably repeat the scene in near future.

Honor Molloy closed out the first half of the evening with a funny and touching performance of “Sixpence the Stars” — a retelling of the Nativity story from the perspective of a Moore Street Market dealer at Christmastime in Dublin, circa 1966.  The story is an excerpt from Honor’s novel, Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage.

Just before the break, IAW&A Vice President and Black ’47 bandleader, Larry Kirwan spoke about the IAW&As new need to pay for the use of the Cell Theatre for its Salons.  The Cell had generously donated the space for over a year but now needs to charge us.  Larry passed a hat so that Salon attendees could help defray the cost.  Larry also wished Charles Hale well and encouraged everyone to support Artists Without Walls.

After the break, in his first Salon presentation, City College Creative Writing teacher and WBAI Radio producer, Brendan Costello read a short story set in the Jazz Age, entitled, “Mrs. Duncan (There Ain’t No Sweet Man).”  “A meditation on grief and mercy,” as Brendan described it, the story is based on an apocryphal anecdote about the 1920s jazz musician, Bix Biederbecke.

Tom Mahon read a piece from his series of prose/poems that take place in upstate New York’s Mohawk Valley.  In the story, set in the late 40s-early 50s, Mark Jenkins buys 700 acres and then goes to Scotland for a particular breed of sheep.  He returns with the sheep and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Mary.  Mark’s and Mary’s lives soar together until disaster strikes, and Mary shows her true mettle.  From there, they go on to live happy, prosperous lives, as all five of their children did, by leaving the land to become professionals.

Maura Mulligan, author of the uplifting memoir, Call of the Lark, gave a brief history about the origins of Wren Day, which occurs each year on December 26th.  In her Mayo village of Aghamore, colorful visitors, dressed in ribbons, straw, and masks would travel from house to house, entertaining neighbors with music, song, and dance.


Then Maura invited fiddler, Marie Reilly, and singer, Jack DeMonti, to join dancers from her céilí dance class on stage.  Jack sang “The Wren Song” made popular by the Clancy Brothers in the 60’s. Marie, whose CD, The Anvil, was released this year, played for Stephanie Lutz and Michelle Cetera who joined Maura in a lively jig.  Stephanie also played the bodhrán.  This Wren Day presentation was a colorful treat for Christmas!


Next, two accomplished actors, Annabel Hagg [] and Jake Green [], performed scenes from Martha Pinson’s original screenplay, Body Count 1968.  The work reflects the struggle of a young woman swept into the social, political, and sexual revolutions of the late 60s and a charming, brilliant, radical young man who is doing his best to sweep her into his arms.

Seamus Scanlon read from his crime fiction collection, As Close as You’ll Ever Be [Link:], which Peter Quinn has described as, “A masterpiece. Wildly disturbing and penetratingly truthful.”  The book is also available at the Mysterious Bookshop and The Center for Fiction. Seamus’s story captured the innocence and dark humor of childhood as well as the brutality of violence.

Singer/Songwriter Tara O’Grady debuted an original song that she wrote on the plane returning from Butte, Montana’s “An Ri Ra Irish Music Festival.” “That’s What the Miners Would Say: A Song for Butte” is about a day in 1917 when 163 miners died in a fire.  Based on notes they scribbled in the dark to their families as the smoke took away their last breaths, Tara imagined the mostly Irish-born miners in their final moments.

She ended the evening on a lighter note, performing a holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” from the new album, Together for Christmas- A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection which also features other IAWA members Larry Kirwan and Ashley Davis.

Tara got audience members to snap their fingers to help her keep jazzy time as she sang, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas … shewbeedoobee!”…

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, indeed!

— John Kearns

photos by Kathy Callahan


Dreaming of a Noir Christmas with “Prohibition”

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The latest from IAW&A member Terence McCauley

The year is 1930 and New York is a city on the edge. The Roaring ’20s ended with the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression is only beginning. Banks are failing. Companies are closing their doors. Breadlines grow longer by the day. The only market making money is the black market: racketeering, rum running, and speakeasies. But when even those vices begin to weaken, the most powerful gangster on the Eastern Sea-board, Archie Doyle, sees the writing on the wall. He launches a bold scheme that, if successful, will secure his empire’s future beyond Prohibition. Beyond even the Great Depression.


But when a mysterious rival attempts to kill Doyle’s right hand man, a dangerous turf war begins to brew. With his empire under attack, Doyle turns to his best gun, former boxer Terry Quinn, for answers. Quinn must use his brains as well as his brawn to uncover who is behind the violence and why before Doyle’s empire comes crashing down. Terrence McCauley whips up a fast paced pulp thriller ripe with Tommy-gun blasting hoods, corrupt cops and deadly dames in this original novel reminiscent of the classic gangster movies of old. Brilliantly illustrated by Rob Moran with designs by Rob Davis, PROHIBITION is a tough-guy blow to the literary gut readers will not soon forget.

Available at

Callahan on memories and Springsteen…in video

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IAW&A member Kathy Callahan shared a life changing experience with Bruce Springsteen and Terry Magovern, several years ago. When Bruce Springsteen put a call out for ‘springsteen and i’ stories and video clips (how his lyrics and music inspire you and influence how you see the world, directly and indirectly…) to be included in Springsteen’s upcoming major motion picture documentary ‘springsteen and i’ in November, she had a story just waiting to be told.

Kathy is thrilled Terry Magovern’s daughter was sent a copy of the video and likes it a lot.

Here is that video:

December 17, 2012

Great Line-up for final IAW&A Salon of 2012

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Tues., Dec 18!
Larry Kirwan, Tara O’Grady, Honor Molloy, and emcee John Kearns may jump down the chimney with a Christmas story, too. Plus two dance performances — Maura Mulligan & her students and Michelle Cetera!
Tues at The Cell–338 W 23 St… Starts 7 PM

December 2, 2012


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There will be NO Salon at Bar Thalia this month!
Salon at The Cell is on for the Dec. 18th.

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