Irish American Writers & Artists

August 23, 2013

Giant Penises and Small Dogs: IAW&A’s Blue Moon Salon at the Cell, 8/20/13

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature,Theater,Visual Arts — by scripts2013 @ 3:56 pm

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Philomena Connors

Giant penises made by the artist Judith Bernstein as discussed by Ann McCoy, and two random appearances by the Cell’s dog, Harry, were moments that stood out among more meditative pieces from a slate of talented writers and artists at the Cell on Tuesday night.

McCoy explained that she deliberately rebelled against the academic conventions of art criticism in her provocative and witty piece, “Judith Bernstein-Hard,” recently published in The Brooklyn Rail.  Bernstein painted and sculpted giant penises beginning in 1966, McCoy said, directly linking violence and men.  This groundbreaking work went largely unrecognized, McCoy added, until quite recently.  McCoy teaches at Yale in the YDS design section and is an art critic for the Brooklyn Rail. 


Ann McCoy

The cell’s dog Harry made one of his appearances during Stephanie Silber’s reading from the short story “Making Stories,” in which a blocked writer heads to the Marshlands for solace only to find haunting memories of her father and yes, the appearance of a dog.  As if on cue and to much laughter, Harry appeared as Silber described the story’s dog. Silber’s story was a contemplation of how the past informs the present, may shape the future for the better, if not precisely with the promise of a happy ending.


Stephanie Silber

Harry also appreciated John Munnelly’s songs that ended the evening.  Munnelly, with Harry’s occasionally accompanying him, sang “Angel Tears,” a meditation on stillness versus agitation; “We Should Go Blind” from his new album, Hello World, available from iTunes:; and “Does My Bum Look Big in This? (The Bum Song) ” released on YouTube last year and described as “hilarious:”  Munnelly will be at the 1st Irish Music Festival on September 20th at Arlene’s Grocery.  Details at his website: and his blog:


John Munnelly

Like Silber’s reading, many of the pieces touched on the past’s hold on us.


Sheila Walsh

Two lonely people who engaged in a love affair in the 1960s reflect on meeting up again decades later in Sheila Walsh’s new comedy Surrender in Somerville.  Kathy MacGowan directed Walsh and Daniel MacGowan in two scenes from the funny and touching play. We look forward to seeing future work from Walsh and the MacGowans, both new members.


Daniel MacGowan

Ray Lindie’s novella “Lone Hero” also featured a main character dealing with his past.  In the scenes Lindie read, his protagonist meets up with his ex-girlfriend after being home for five months.  The two plan a rendezvous, as her new boyfriend, Aldo, is unavailable.


Ray Lindie

Some of Christy Kelly’s poems also touched on the passing of time and the past’s hold on us, notably in the form of the complex feelings involved in a child’s relationship to the father.  Kelly is working on a new book of poetry entitled Dear Father. Additionally, he is finishing a novel called Nobody Said.


Christy Kelly

Lissa Kiernan’s work also in part dealt with time’s passing.  She read three poems, a pantoum entitled “Anniversary,” a blues poem called “Icarus Blues,” and “Still Life with Irish Dirt.” The last poem can be heard set to music at Penduline Press, whose current issue features Irish writers and artists:

The audience also eagerly welcomed the latest installments of novels that have been read over the last two months at the salons.

First, John Kearns read from his novel-in-progress, Worlds.  This time the Revered Sarsfied Logan, S.J. visits the 1910 picket lines outside of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and hears Esther Rosenfeld, a young woman he had found beaten on the street and taken to the hospital, speak to the strikers.  Father Logan brings the bandaged and limping young woman for a cup of coffee among the well-heeled shoppers of the “Ladies’ Mile” of Lower Broadway.  Esther and Father Logan discuss how the priest might help the strikers’ cause and Father Logan is pleased to see the young woman devour a piece of cake she had at first refused.


John Kearns

Then Tom Mahon read the third chapter of his novel American Mastery.  The Fenton brothers meet their mentor, Mr. Keller, who’s the last manufacturer in their little upstate New York town.  The man is ill but wants to expand his business so needs to work quickly to get a loan to build bigger.  When he learns that Raymond, the older brother, knows Japanese, he asks if he’d return to Japan to find a manufacturer to build and export his thermal windows. The story takes place in 1976 between the disruptions the oil embargoes caused in 1973 and 1979.  The reading went well because the audience was so attuned.


Tom Mahon

Another standout of the night was new IAWA member and crime fiction writer Gary Cahill who read selections from two short stories set in Hell’s Kitchen.  “Rollover I.R.A.” told of past and present-day very hard men raising money for the struggle in Northern Ireland in the shadows of 42nd Street.  We also followed two loan-shark “collectors” inexorably pushing a couple of loud-mouth real estate speculators toward land’s edge on a bleak November night from “Corner of River and Rain.”  Catch Cahill in September at NY Public Library Mid-Manhattan, and in October at bar 2A and KGB Bar in the East Village.


Gary Cahill

Finally, another highlight of the evening came from Bernadette Cullen’s long poem called “When the Stars Turned Sideways.” A montage of catastrophe, some mythical and some man made, it was inspired by a class on long poems that Cullen took at Poets House. She teaches part-time at The College of New Rochelle.


Bernadette Cullen

A great night of poetry, prose, drama, and music at the blue-moon Salon!  See at the Thalia on September 3rd!

August 22, 2013

IAW&A Theater Night, Discounted Tickets for “Brendan at the Chelsea”

Filed under: Events,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 7:46 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tickets 40 Percent Off for IAW&A Members on Thurs., Sept. 19

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Legendary Dublin writer Brendan Behan returns to his adopted home of New York in the form of Brendan at the Chelsea, a warm and funny drama from Belfast’s LyricTheatre, staring Adrian Dunbar in his New York stage debut.

It is 1960s New York in the  bohemian Chelsea Hotel, Arthur Miller is just across the hall and the symphony of 24th Street is rising up and in through the open window of Brendan Behan’s room. He is broke, hung over and way past the delivery date of his latest book, the first line of which he is yet to write.

We can relate.

brendan at desk

Adrian Dunbar plays Brendan Behan in “Brendan at the Chelsea”…also directs the five person cast.

The IAW&A will be having a Theater Night at Brendan at the Chelsea on Thursday, September 19 at 8 PM, with a Q&A session with cast members after the show. Tickets are available for $37.75, 40% off the regular price (limit two rickets per member) by emailing your request to

Brendan Behan at a pub

Brendan Behan at work…in a pub

The fully produced, multi-actor play runs for five weeks, Sept. 4 through Oct. 6, at the Acorn Theatre, Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd St.   For more on the show, go to

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plaque outside NYC’s Chelsea Hotel

August 19, 2013

Peter Quinn Reading and Q&A about his new novel “Dry Bones” at IAC, Nov. 19

Filed under: Literature — by johnleemedia @ 11:54 am
Tags: , , , , ,


Peter Quinn
and Dry Bones, The Final Chapter of the Fintan Dunne Trilogy

Tuesday, November 19 | 7:30 pm

“Peter Quinn just might make it into the history books himself. He is perfecting, if not actually creating, a genre you could call the history-mystery.” – James Patterson, The New York Times bestselling author

Celebrated Bronx writer Peter Quinn (Banished Children of Eve, Looking for Jimmy: In Search of Irish America, Hour of the CarThe Man Who Never Returned) returns to the Irish Arts Center to read from his recently released historic novelDry Bonesthe final installment of the detective Fintan Dunne series, which centers around an ill-fated OSS mission in the Eastern front and its consequences more than a decade after World War II. Join Peter for a Q&A after his reading to learn more about his exhaustive research on World War II and the liberties a writer sometimes has to take with history.

For tickets go to

August 9, 2013

More Captivating than a Car Crash: Family Themes, Enchanting Music & Stories Mark IAW&A’s August 6th Salon

Filed under: Events,Film,Irish Politics,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:26 pm

by Mary Lannon

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A story of a young woman who decidedly doesn’t want to be her mother as told by Philomena Connors and a song about a man who realizes much to his chagrin that he has become his father sung by John Byrne were just two highlights of a salon full of family-themed drama at the Thalia Tuesday night.

Before the salon began IAW&A board member, John Lee, announced an upcoming IAW&A theater night at Brendan at the Chelsea, an Off-Broadway play from Belfast’s Lyric Theatre about the legendary and notorious Dublin writer, Brendan Behan, and his waning days of his life spent at NYC’s famed artists’ hotel, The Chelsea. Adrian Dunbar will make his New York stage debut starring in the role of Behan. The play runs from Sept. 4 to Oct. 6, and the IAW&A will soon announce the details and discounted ticket prices of its planned mid-September Theater Night.  Lee also reminded the Salon about the Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration on Oct. 21, which this year honors the writer, John Patrick Shanley, who has already won the trifecta of a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar and a Tony Award.


John Lee

Connors’ piece chronicled a young woman’s journey from 1970s rural Ireland to the water’s edge in Cuba.  Water served as a theme for change and growth and linked the two islands’ histories of revolution. The main character, Sarah, recounted with a great deal of humor her own revolt against social expectations for women.


Philomena Connors

In contrast, Byrne’s narrator in his song “Old Man’s Disguise” processes the relationship with his Dad, and to his surprise recognizes that he has become his father.  Byrne also sang “Various Verses” as a tribute to the people who used to come to his house in Dublin and sing.  The pride each person took in his/her song inspired this piece.  Both songs are on Byrne’s After the Wake album. Visit


John Byrne

Byrne and Connors were not the only ones to take up the theme of family and its influences.

Her mother was a big focus in Maureen Hossbacher’s piece called “Tables.”  Having planned to write about food, the muse moved her to write a backhanded, affectionate tribute to her mother, eliciting laughs from the audience and, no doubt, fond memories of many of their own childhood tables.


Maureen Hossbacher

Jon Gordon told of the by turns heart-breaking and funny relationship between Gordon and his addicted and depressed mother in his memoir, For Sue.  The self-published memoir, which also delves into the many tragedies that befell his mother, will soon be out through Chimbaruzu publishing.  Gordon will also have two books for students of jazz improvisation on Colin Music out later this year.


Jon Gordon

Tom Mahon opened with a family-themed piece from his novel American Mastery. It tells of two brothers who experience setbacks but join talents and inadvertently create a prosperous and creative business. In the excerpt that he read from chapter two, the brothers meet the man who shows them the creativity and rewards of being an entrepreneur.  Mahon enjoyed reading it, and it showed; it was very well received.


Tom Mahon

John Kearns also told of two brothers in an excerpt set in 1920s Philadelphia from his historical novel-in progress Worlds. Folks who were at the Cell in July heard the first part of the scene that Kearns continued Tuesday night. This time his character James Logan takes his brother, Rev. Sarsfield Logan S.J., on a tour of his luxurious new home on Philadelphia’s Main Line.  After the tour, in the kitchen with his wife, Mariellen, James complains that his brother showed no excitement about anything in the well-appointed house except for an old walking stick that belonged to their father. When they rejoin Sarsfield in the living room, they suspect that he might have overheard their conversation…


John Kearns

Another part of the history of the Irish diaspora was the topic of Mary Pat Kelly’s talk on her adventures in research as she writes Of Irish Blood, a sequel to her historical novel Galway Bay based on her own family’s story. Of Irish Blood follows her great aunt to Paris in 1912 where in real life she was a buyer for Marshall Field but in fiction she meets and befriends Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz and other women of the Irish Revolutionary movement.


Mary Pat Kelly


Mary Pat gamely competed with a car accident that took place outside the Thalia’s window — and won!  Rumors are spreading that the driver was the grandniece of Countess Markievecz, once removed.


Jack DiMonte, Mary Lannon, & Karen Daly enjoying the break

mark d

Mark Donnelly recommends Kelly Kinsella’s play at the Cell Theatre

Other enchanting works did not pick up on family themes.

Kevin McPartland read an excerpt from his novel, Brownstone Dreams, newly published by Boann Books and Media.  In the excerpt, teenager Bobby Dutton finds himself in the Brooklyn House of Detention after breaking a window in a Park Slope jewelry store.  When he is suddenly bailed out, he is shocked to learn that the bail was paid by the father of his former neighborhood nemesis, Vincent Casseo.


Kevin McPartland

Ed Farrell, following advice offered by Malachy McCourt, told rather than read from his historical novel employing magic realism, An Inconvenient Resurrection.


Ed Farrell

Sarah Fearon offered the audience a preview of her in-progress short film entitled Snazzy Peabody.  Snazzy is an over-the-top broker and legend in her own mind. Sarah read and improvised on, among other themes, the concept of “ownership” to be featured in the upcoming shoot in Coney Island.


Sarah Fearon

Mary Lannon did a smashing job of reading through the fender-bender that took everyone’s eyes out the Thalia’s windows.  She read a scene about moving to a new school in the middle of the year from her finished novel (with its impossibly long title) Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon Theory aka How I Became A Scientist and Discovered the Truth About Parallel Universes by Miranda J. McCleod.  The novel recounts the life and times of a girl science geek who believes that at the age of 14 she got sucked through a faulty air-conditioner and landed in a parallel universe.


Mary Lannon

Last but hardly least, the lilting soprano of visitor from Ireland, Katie McGale’s singing “She Moved Through the Fair” ended another inspiring night at the Thaila.


Katie McGale

The next salon is August 20th at the Cell.   See you there!.

Be careful out there

August 6, 2013

The August Place to Be…Salon at Bar Thalia TONIGHT

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 7:17 pm

The IAW&A members and guests will gather tonight, Tues., Aug 6 at Bar Thalia, 95th & Broadway, under Symphony Space.

Starts at 7 PM. No admission charged, cash bar.

See you there!


August 4, 2013

Cathy Maguire in Concert with Gabriel Donohue, Band & Special Guests

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 11:17 pm

New York Irish Center Presents for One Night Only

“Ireland in Song” CD Launch, Friday, August 9

Cathy Maguire with Gabriel Donohue, Band & Special Guests in Concert

“Ireland in Song” is a live show that takes the most famous Irish ballads that are loved worldwide and explores the roots and the stories behind the song. “Ireland in Song”is also a PBS program (date of airing TBD). Excerpts from the program, hosted by Cathy Maguire will be shown on Out or Ireland, the first excerpt being aired on July 8th on Channel 21 at 11.30pm.

Join singer/songwriter Cathy Maguire with Musical Director Gabriel Donohue and some of Ireland’s top musicians, on a magical musical journey to the Emerald Isle.

Friday, August 9
Doors Open 7.30pm
for Cocktail Hour;
Complimentary Tea, Coffee, Soda
Discount Bar

Showtime 8.30pm

For Advance Tickets via Paypal or Credit Card
(you do not need a Paypal account
to purchase tickets)

Regular $22

Students, Seniors, Unemployed $11

New York Irish Center
10-40 Jackson Ave, LIC, Queens, NY 11101
718 482 0909

Last stop on the 7 before Grand Central
at Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave.
Lots of local parking after 7pm



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