Irish American Writers & Artists

January 25, 2013

Salon at The Cell Warms a Winter’s Eve

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 3:37 pm

by Karen Daly

A hearty crew came out to the Cell Theatre on the frigid evening of Tuesday, January 22nd for another stellar evening of fiction, poetry, and wonderful song at the bi-monthly Irish-American Writers and Artists Salon. 

John Kearns hosted and led off with an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, Worlds. Janey Dougherty, a secretary in 1950s Philadelphia, is having an affair with an executive at her office, James Logan. James, who is engaged to marry another woman, goes on a business trip for a week without telling Janey.  When he returns and seeks her forgiveness, she gets him to break off his engagement and their relationship quickly goes back to normal. We look forward to hearing more of Worlds.

Guenevere Donohue described the creative inspiration that the salon engenders. She gave us an example of that inspiration in the form of a hauntingly beautiful love song, “What It Is.”  This new composition came into being after Guen’s conversation with Owen and Moley O’Suilleabhain, the singer/songwriters of Size 2 Shoes, at a previous IAW&A salon.  

Novelist, poet, and professor, Christy Barrett-Kelly read several poems from a forthcoming collection.  Christy has written for film, television, and theatre and is currently completing his first novel, Nobody Said.

Inspired by the sudden drop in temperature to the deep freeze, Jack Di Monte sang “South To A Warmer Place” by Alec Wilder and Loonis McGlohon. Jack has now sung a few times at the salon, and yes, he warmed us up. 

Larry Kirwan read from his novel, Rockin’ The Bronx, set in the “only borough on the mainland” during the wild early 1980s, the time when John Lennon was shot and Bobby Sands MP died on hunger strike. Larry described how Irish Republican politics and traditional music intertwined in the bars of the Bronx, and gave an account of how a fiddler dominated a session as seen through a musician’s eyes. Rockin The Bronx was published last year and is now available as an ebook on all platforms.

After the break, Seamus Scanlon presented a striking new story linking a cat-free Galway and New York. His recent collection As Close As You’ll Ever Be ( was selected in the Best Short Story Collections of 2012 by the Library Journal.  Congrats, Seamus!

Kevin Holohan read a new short-short story “The Six Other Faces of Frank Byrne” which shows the public and private faces of an apparent hard man, Dubliner Frank Byrne as he struggles with family illness and the displacement and disconnection of the expatriate before finally cracking and spilling out over the edges to an unsuspecting fellow passenger on his return flight to New York.  Kevin said: “This character came into my head, left behind six tiny stories and then left.  I can’t say I was entirely sorry to see him go.”

In a delightful close to the evening, singer/songwriter Tara O’Grady treated us to her new song about Billie Holiday, “Gardenia Girl.”  Tara wrote the song after learning that the jazz legend had Irish roots — her Irish great-grandfather was named Fagan and she was born Eleanora Fagan. Tara also discovered another personal link to Lady Day. Holiday is buried in the Bronx, directly across the river from Queens where Tara grew up, overlooking the Whitestone Bridge. Tara will soon record “Gardenia Girl” on her third album, A Celt in the Cotton Club.

Though the temperatures outside were freezing, it was a warm, convivial, artistic gathering inside the IAW&A Salon.  The next Salon at Bar Thalia is on February 5th.  The next Cell Salon is on February 19th.  If you are a member and would like to present, send an email to




January 22, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 4:31 pm

The next IAW&A Salon is on January 22nd at 7 pm at the Cell Theatre


Get on the Salon email list!


January 18, 2013

Q & A with Airswimming’s Aedin Moloney & John Keating

Filed under: Theater,Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 3:35 am
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Set in 1920’s England, Charlotte Jones’s Airswimming, playing until Feb. 3 at the Irish Rep,  is based on the true story of two women (Miss Kitson and Miss Baker), who have been incarcerated in a hospital for the “criminally insane” for having borne illegitimate children. Forgotten by their families and not released until the 1970’s, Dora and Persephone adoptalter-egos, Dorph and Porph, to enact their fantasies and survive the silence of incarceration. By turns very funny and moving, Airswimming reminds us of the forgotten women of these generations in both Britain and Ireland.  Aedín Moloney and Rachel Pickup, seen in The Irish Rep’s 2011 revival of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, star as Dora and Persephone, respectively.

Q & A by Kathy Callahan
Aedin, please tell us your Airswimming backstory.
 John Keating brought this play to my attention in 2004, asking me if i would be interested in playing the role of Dora and producing it with Fallen Angel Theatre Company. In 2011 we found our Persephone – actor Rachel Pickup. In September 2012 the final piece to our production came about, when the renowned Irish Repertory Theatre came on board to present the piece in association with Fallen Angel Theatre Company.
Aedin, I have heard you say that Airswimming is a woman’s play that everyone can relate to on some level. 
Charlotte Jones has written a very brave piece that explores with effortless wit a topic (incarceration of women for having children out of wedlock) that many writers would shy away from. Charlotte Jones fearless humor and her complete lack of self-censorship in her writing, are more than reason enough to draw me to the challenges of the play.’
Men and boys never suffered the tragic fate of girls and woman who were ostracized, incarcerated and deemed socially and mentally unfit in London and in Ireland at that time.
 True enough. That is why we must never forget.  The stage is a good place to bring their stories to life.
John, what is on the horizon after Airswimming? 
 I’m in rehearsals for Much Ado About Nothing at The Duke on 42nd Street, but I’m on the other side of the stage for this one, playing Verges and Friar Francis. We start previews on Feb 2 and it runs thru early April.
John, while I was watching Aedin Maloney and Rachel Pickup’s brilliant performance I couldn’t help but think about one of my all time favorite films about a complex and intriguing conversation between Andre Gregory and Wallis Shawn in -My Dinner With Andre…
Yes Kathy Air Swimming definitely has strong echoes of My Dinner with Andre and of course Waiting for Godot, someone the other evening also mentioned Shawshank Redemption, which I can see too! I’m excited about the Wallace Shawn mini-season this Spring in NYC and wish that My Dinner with Andre was part of it.
When and where were you when you decided to bring Air Swimming to NYC? 
 I first read Airswimming after picking it up by chance in Drama Bookshop as far back as 2004, I bought it after reading it there and then an hour later, showed it to Aedin that weekend, we decided to do it right away – and here we are nearly 9 years later!
I can see Air Swimming on the screen. Any plans for filming?
 No plans to film it – wish we did as it would work so well, I would be surprised if the playwright Charlotte Jones hasn’t been approached over the years (the play was written in 1997) to adapt it for screen. I can see the pitch now – ‘Shawshank, but with two ladies in the Freeman and Robbins roles’! They should ask Aedin and Rachel to do the parts, they won’t find better to play them.
And if I might add, John, They should ask you to direct!

For more info on Airswimming, please go to

This post originally appeared in New York Irish Arts  

January 13, 2013

IAW&A Salons off to strong start in 2013!

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater,Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 7:56 pm
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If the IAW&A’s first Salon of 2013, held at Bar Thalia on January 8th, is any indication, it is going to be a great year for the organization, which marks its 5th anniversary in March.

TJ English, President of the IAW&A, began the evening by speaking about the amazing breadth of talent showcased at the Salons, and how they will continue to evolve in the coming year.


Then Kevin Holohan, author of novel The Brother’s Lot, kicked off the performances by reading a short story that more than lives up to the bite of its title, “Team Players for the New Economy” a grotesque satire on solipsistic corporate culture and groupthink and aims to be a tonic for anyone who has ever had the misfortune to work anywhere larger than two people and a fax machine.  303552_10151337674368948_2057608548_n

Guenevere Donohue, playwright, actress, singer, and poet read two poems, one about the beach and one about her great-grandmother titled The Butter Witch. She then graced the room with a song.  Kathleen Donohoe read an essay about the day she realized she was a writer, two weeks after her eighth birthday, particularly fitting as she just finished her novel three months ago–on her birthday.

Next up was Mark Butler with a new story about the imagined life of promotional mascots working the sidewalks of Times Square called Mickey Mouse Is a Mexican.  It is an installment of what eventually will be a collection of short pieces entitled Talking to Yourself on the Streets of New York.


John Kearns, whose cousin Siobhan Regan from Mayo was in the audience  (Up Mayo!), read an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, Worlds, in which Paul Logan, a 30-something Irish-American, Gavin, a drunken Englishman, and Stephanie, their barmaid and driver, are traveling through the Financial District, trying to find their way uptown.    As they drive along John Street, Paul reminisces about the night he met Stephanie. Interspersed among the events and reminiscences is a parody of stock-market jargon, describing the relationship between Stephanie and the men competing for her attention.

Singer, actor, and humorist Rachel Bouton performed a short story she wrote entitled “My Doorman is a Homeless Dude Named Frank” and sang the song “Homeward Bound” by Marta Keen Thompson. Rachel was the only presenter to use the phrase “bed bug farts.”

After the break, Maura Mulligan, author of Call of the Lark read the poem BEANNACHT (blessing) from the late John O’ Donohue’s collection: Benedictus.  O’ Donohue is the author of the international bestsellers Anam Cara and Echos of Divine Beauty. Here is BEANNACHT:

Next Maureen Hossbacher took the mike to deliver two of her poems.  In counterpoint to Kevin Holahan’s hilarious opening story, the first poem, entitled “Okay” was a powerful expression of her frustration with the creeping influence of corporate amorality over the past few decades.  Maureen followed that with “Lesser Known Saints,”  a droll tribute to the ancestors, stand-ins for former sainted superstars such as Christopher and Philomena.

Jim Rodgers followed with an excerpt from his novel “Long Night’s End.” The protagonist, Johnny Gunn, angry and bitter over the tragic death of his friend Jimmy, proceeds to take on an entire Greek soccer team along with the referee during a weekend match. After being pummeled, evicted, and banned from the league, Johnny returns home to soak his wounds in a hot bath, hiding from the world and wondering why God has abandoned the good people of Sunnyside.     270243_10151337674618948_182677068_n

Richard Butler then beautifully performed two songs: “I Wish I Could Forget You” from the musical Passion, music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; and “As We Stumble Along” from the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, music & lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

Kathy Callahan told rather than read a story from personal professional experience that vividly brought into the room the lives of the often invisible and marginalized and reminded us that such lives are complex, multi-faceted and even in direst adversity, hopeful. The immediacy of the story was very affecting.

Jack DiMonte introduced the song he sang by explaining that it is a Peter, Paul and Mary song—but an unusual one for them, “Whatshername,” a comical take about a man trying to remember the name of a long-lost love.

Then Malachy McCourt took to the stage with a very prescient poem he wrote after President Obama’s election in 2008, about the difficulties he was going to face in the next four years. As ever, he brought the evening to a rousing close with a song, “Oh, Boy, What Joy We Had in Barefoot Days.”

Happy New Year from the IAW&A!  (NEXT IAW&A SALON  Tues, Jan. 22 at The Cell)


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January 8, 2013

REMINDER! Salon tonight!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 8:24 pm

We have a great lineup for our first IAW&A  Salon of 2013, tonight, Tuesday, 1/8, at the Bar Thalia, 95th & Broadway at 7 pm.

Hope to see you there!

Congrats to Mike Farragher!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 8:20 pm


January 7, 2013

Larry Kirwan on the IAW&A Salons

Filed under: Film,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 5:29 pm
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IAW&A Salons

The IAW&A salons will resume in 2013 on Tuesday January 8 at The Thalia, 2537 Broadway (96th St), NYC and on Tuesday January 22 at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd Street (between 8/9 avenues), NYC. Both will begin at 7pm sharp.

I was in attendance at the most recent Cell salon on Dec. 18th and was astounded by the sheer breadth of talent. What had begun as a simple reading series has now grown into a dizzying artistic experience that encompasses prose, poetry, theatre, performance art, music, song and dance. The ingenuity and innovation of our member/presenters never faltered and I was not alone in feeling that our salons provide some of the most entertaining evenings in town – and with no admission charge. It was standing room only on Dec. 18th and I have no doubt that soon enough we’ll be taking reservations for attendance.

I might also add that the atmosphere is so warm and nurturing and quite unlike any other I’ve witnessed in NYC or anywhere else for that matter. Much thanks to Nancy Manocherian and Kira Simring of The Cell for providing us with this wonderful theatrical space.

For those who wish to present on either Jan. 8th or 22nd, please drop a line to I’ll personally be back at the Cell on Jan. 22nd. I’m sure other members of the board will be enjoying the salon at the Thalia on January 8th.
Musicians & singer_WREN_DAY
Meanwhile, out in New Jersey, IAW&A member, Mike Farragher, has initiated a salon at the Irish American Cultural Institute, One Lackawanna Place, Morristown, NJ 07960 that has been attracting a stellar collection of writers, musicians, poets and dancers. The next gathering will be Thursday, Jan. 31st at 7pm when among the highlights Mike and John Liam Shea will read from their soon-to-be-published books.

For more info on the NJ salons contact Mike Farragher at:


Larry Kirwan


January 6, 2013

New Year’s Greetings from the IAW&A

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 7:01 pm


We at Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc (IAW&A) want to wish everyone a banner year of good health and enlightenment in 2013.

Last year was another big one for IAW&A, as our membership grew by nearly 20 percent. The year was busy with activities and events.

If you attended the Fourth Annual Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event in honor of singer JUDY COLLINS in October, you know that was perhaps our most enchanting O’Neill Award ceremony so far. Also this past year was another presentation of THE IRISH-MEXICAN ALLIANCE, an evening of Chicano and Irish poets, Celtic and Mexican music, all to raise money for an important charitable cause. Following on a similar event held in New York City in 2011, last year’s was held in El Paso, TX and was a stellar example of multi-cultural solidarity.

Also in 2012, we had a rollicking party to celebrate the publication of Frank and Malachy McCourt’s A COUPLE OF BLAGARDS, a stage presentation by the Mssrs. McCourt first staged more than 20 years ago and now an Irish American classic.

Our twice-monthly IAW&A salons, where writers, poets, actors, musicians, and filmmakers perform or exhibit works in progress – or finished works – continues to be a huge success. The most recent salon at The Cell Theater in Manhattan, held in mid-December, was perhaps the biggest and most lively so far.

Last year, we continued to expand our social media network on Facebook and through electronic newsletters (like this one) and on our website, all in an attempt to create a better system for members to communicate to other members about upcoming publications, plays, music, shows, etc. Many of these changes and new directions have come via suggestions from you, the membership, at our annual Full Membership Meeting, which takes place in June and is held at the Irish Consulate Building in midtown Manhattan.

We are still a young organization, just now heading into our fifth year of existence. Our primary goal is for further growth and success in the 2013, with continued salons for our members to develop their work, continued collaboration with other Irish American organizations and multi-cultural solidarity events with non-Irish groups, more fun and festivities.

We hope that you will continue to renew your annual membership ($50) and remain a vibrant part of IAW&A in the New Year.


T.J. English,

Board of Directors

Peter Quinn
John Kearns
Malachy McCourt
Kathleen Donohoe
Ashley Davis
Skye Gurney
Larry Kirwan
Honor Molloy
Mary Pat Kelly
Daniel Costello
Tim O’Brien
John Lee

January 1, 2013

No Salon THIS first Tuesday

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 5:26 pm

Reminder–No Salon tonight on New Year’s Day…Stay tuned for Salon updates!

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