Irish American Writers & Artists

May 30, 2014

Bergen County Irish Festival: Opportunity for IAW&A Members to Read

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:19 pm

The inaugural Bergen County Irish Festival is on Saturday, June 28th, from 11 am -7 pm at Overpeck County Park in Leonia, NJ.

Member Sean Hickey invites members to read from their works and sell their books, if they have some.


The event will also include readings from famous/noteworthy/beloved Irish literature. Something like a favorite poem or two from Yeats, Synge, Moore, et al, or a passage from a longer work would be most welcome. The goal is to make the festival a celebration of Irish/Irish-American culture and literature, past and present.

Due to the nature of the event, there are a few restrictions that are not imposed on IAW&A Salon readings:

1) No profanity. Works should be appropriate for a family event.

2) Works should be able to function as stand-alone pieces for the reading. While a lyrical chapter from a novel that works with little context needed from the rest of the story would be okay, a plot-heavy piece from chapter 28 would not really work, given the audience.

3) Works should pertain to Ireland, Irish or Irish-American life and culture, being/growing up Irish, etc., in some way.

To sign up to read, email Sean Hickey at

May 24, 2014

New York New Belfast returns, May 29, 30 with 30% discount for IAW&A members

Filed under: Events — by johnleemedia @ 2:22 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The arts and culture are always a big part of the annual New York New Belfast conference.  Here are a few of the offerings…

A Two-Way Street of Arts and Culture.
12th Floor Lounge

Finding ways to mainstream exchanges of artists between Belfast and New York so that Irish American artists are feted in Belfast and Belfast artists celebrated in New York.

Contributors: Tracy Marshall, Director Belfast Exposed | Kevin Gamble, Director Féile an Phobail | Sarah Jane Bennison, Grand Opera House, Belfast | Mac Premo | Marcus Robinson, Film-Maker, Artist. Producer Rebuilding the World Trade Center. | Peter Quinn, author The Man Who Never Returned, Hour of the Cat, Dry Bones | Terry Golway, Author Machine Made | John Ahearn, Sculpture, South Bronx

Great Universities Define Great Cities
Lowenstein Room 502 (5th Floor)

World-class universities are a vital ingredient of the global city. How can our universities act as economic engines co-operating across the Atlantic to usher in a new era of educational excellence and business innovation.

Contributors: Tom Dunne, Vice-President Fordham Univeristy | Prof. John Harrington, Fordham University |Michael George, Fortress Investments/Queen’s University New York City Scholarship Program | Joanne Stuart, US-NI Mentorship Programme | Gabrielle NigUidhir, St Marys University College, Belfast | Breandán Mac Suibhne, Centenary College, NY

The Healing Power of Art 3:15pm-4:30pm

4 World Trade Center (Bus will leave Fordham University at 2:30pm)

Symposium hosted by artist Marcus Robinson at his studio on the 48th floor of Tower 4, World Trade Center. Chaired by Geraldine Hughes, Actor, Writer and Producer. Contributions from Michael O’Keefe, Actor/Poet, Rodney Dickson. Includes a showreel of Marcus’ film of the rebuilding of Ground Zero.

NYNB starts the evening of Thurs. May 29 and continues into Friday. Come the the whole conference or part of it.
Great networking and a 30% discount for IAW&A members. Just use code nynbpartner when ordering tickets HERE

May 23, 2014

5/20 IAW&A Salon: A Simply Thrilling Night!

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 8:27 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Alexandra Jakstas

That’s no exaggeration. If you missed the IAW&A salon at the Cell on Tuesday, May 20, you missed an unforgettable program that featured scenes from three plays – by women playwrights. Gifted new presenters joined the line-up; several IAW&A members explored new genres and birthdays (John Kearns, Maura Mulligan) were celebrated.

What Tom Mahon calls “our village” is entertained by “our own” with story and song, drama, and comedy. Tonight “our own” included talent from stages in New York and Ireland, and from such fabled places as Hollywood and Jakarta, and of course, New Jersey. Tom notes that our Salon mix might not work without such a great audience. The overflow crowd was just that – laughing, cheering, sometimes tearing up.


Gary Cahill

Crime writer Gary Cahill led off the evening with an unusual choice that worked well at his recent reading for the Noir at the Bar series at the Shade in Greenwich Village — the climax and demise of the psychotic murderous protagonist from his crime fiction short storySirens.” In other words, he gave away the ending! The story is published free online (and in an e-book anthology) with Plan B Magazine at Gary also reads “Sirens” and other writers’ stories (Um Piexe Grande, Slice) with his friend, engineer Tom Richter (Doing God’s Work, Murderous Lies) for the Plan B podcast at  Gary is the father of the talented Ryan Winter Cahill, who closed the evening.


Mark William Butler

Mark William Butler was happy to spread the word and receive such an enthusiastic response to the new IAW&A newsletter – The Weekly Action Update, a/k/a “The Weekly.”  Be sure to get your news to Mark at

Mark, who is known as a playwright and creator of musical comedy, read a short story that he recently rediscovered. The rollicking “San Francisco Bar Brawl” made its debut after languishing in obscurity (and a dusty notebook) for more years than Mark would care to admit.


Marni Rice

Marni Rice is ever expanding her range as an artist. We’ve seen her perform as a singer, accordionist, composer, writer and Salon host. Tonight she sang two traditional sean-nós (“old style”) Irish songs from the Sarah Makem songbook: “My Bonny Boy” and the plaintive,  “The Lowlands of Holland.”

Sarah Makem, the influential traditional singer was wife, mother and grandmother of musicians (yes, those Makems). Read about her here:


John Kearns

John Kearns, IAW&A Salon producer and tonight’s host, read two poems: “A Memory of Its Own” about the body’s ability to recall things the mind may have forgotten and “Mornings” about how a couple’s conversation changes the morning commute from a dull routine to an experience enchanting and fun.


Sean Hickey

Writer/teacher Sean Hickey made his Salon debut in March and tonight he returned with three melancholy character sketches from his short fiction “Five Portraits of Future Cultists.” Each sketch explores the varied formative experiences and longings of a seemingly ordinary person, and leads up to an ominous glimpse at a fate that he or she will be unable to escape. A fine writer and welcome addition to the group.

Sean promoted the Bergen County Irish Festival, which will be held on June 28 at Overpeck County Park in Leonia, New Jersey.  Authors with books to sign and sell are especially encouraged to participate. For information, check the IAW&A “Weekly” or email Sean at

 mary pat cast

Sean, Mary Elizabeth Kelly, Maura Knowles, and Mary Pat Kelly

Distinguished author and filmmaker Mary Pat Kelly is now working on a musical version of her first novel, Special Intentions, which tells the story of her experiences as a nun during the 1960s. Tonight she presented two songs from the musical-in-progress.  In her introduction, Mary Pat commented on present attacks by the Vatican on women religious for being “feminists” too concerned with the poor and the environment. “I left. The women who stayed are doing great work under difficult conditions. I want to look at the idealism that motivated all of us,” she said. She cast two wonderful actresses Maura Knowles – and Mary Elizabeth Kelly to sing her roles, accompanied on piano by Sean, a musical student who arrived in New York from Jakarta only 10 months ago and is a wonderful talent. Mary Pat commented, “My niece Mary Elizabeth captured that idealism and Maura was fantastic as all the other characters. Thanks to Salon for the chance to launch this effort!”



Maura Mulligan and John Kearns enjoyed birthday cupcakes! 


Maura Mulligan

Maura Mulligan, author of a memoir, Call of the Lark, (Greenpoint Press) and teacher of Irish language and dance, is now proud to call herself a playwright and “over the moon” with the audience’s warm reception to her first effort, Call of the Grave. On Samhain  (Halloween) in rural 1940’s Ireland, Maeve Kenny prepares for her husband’s wake with the traditional music and clay pipes. When the local priest announces that Pádraic Kenny must be the first burial in a new graveyard, daughter Breege is horrified. When the druidess, Cait Rúa, announces that the ancestors will expect to meet Pádraic in the old graveyard, Breege finds a shovel and takes matters into her own hands.

maura cast

Nancy Oda, Aine Murphy, Vera Wrenn, Jo Kinsella, and Jimmy Kerr

Maura’s cast featured Jo Kinsella who directed the scene and played Breege. Jo has many acting credits here and in Ireland and recently played Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa at The Irish Rep. Jimmy Kerr, a native of Co. Antrim, studied creative writing in Edinburgh and acting in NYC. His work has been featured in the 1st Irish Theater Festival. Native Irish speaker Áine Murphy (Cáit Rúa) hails from the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht in West Kerry and has appeared in many Irish language stage productions and on Radio Éireann and Radio na Gaeltachta. IAW&A member, Limerick born Vera Wrenn  (Maeve) has acted and studied and performed Irish dance in Ireland and New York. Throughout the 1960s, Vera sang with her sister and brother in the Wrenn Trio. Our own Nancy Oda, who read stage directions, has participated in other New York playreadings and performance pieces. The Chicago native has experience acting and training actors and is a member of SAG/AFTRA and Actors’ Equity. Nancy is excited to do readings of new plays and is always looking for new projects.


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon read from another powerful excerpt from his novel American Mastery.  On a business trip to Germany, the Fenton brothers Charlie and Raymond go to the Hofbrau House.

Afterwards, while walking on the cobbled streets of Munich, they’re attached by four thugs, just as they were on a previous trip to Japan. This time, Charlie saves them. Frightened at first that he could respond so automatically, he then relishes winning against such odds. Ray is knocked out. At the hospital, Charlie learns that he’s killed a man, and is now like the Germans he fears and detests after visiting Buchenwald death camp the previous day.


Jill Caryl Weiner

Author, journalist and first time presenter Jill Caryl Weiner read an essay called “Moving Forward” about transformations, memories and how you often need to forget parts of yourself to become someone new: a mom. Jill calls her piece as “the dark sister” to her new book When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family – a charming and whimsical fresh spin on the memory book.


Jill wanted to help new parents ease their anxiety with a fun, optimistic way to record that time. In Jill’s book, parents record their firsts as well as baby’s (how they felt the first time they held baby; and baby’s first real word and parents first baby word) so that they don’t take themselves for granted – and so they’ll have an interesting — and adorable  — keepsake in the future.

Jill has two book signing/reading events coming up:

June 9th at 7pm, Barnes & Noble on 82nd & Broadway.

June 14th at 11am at the Upper West Side Apple Store.

Find Jill at or get on her mailing list at and find the book at

sheila sarah

Sheila Walsh and Sarah Fearon

Playwright Sheila Walsh has been sharing scenes from her play, Surrender at Somerville,a funny and touching look at what happens when sweethearts from the 1960’s reconnect. Sheila is working on the second draft and tonight she read the beginning of the new version with the comedian/performer Sarah Fearon. The scene, and the actors, provided great comedy. We’ll get to see more, as the work progresses, as Sheila enjoys presenting new work to the salon’s encouraging audience.


John Cappellitti

First time Salon presenter John Cappelletti read a poem (some have called it a long sonnet) called “Krapp” based on the play “Krapp’s Last Tape” by Samuel Beckett, directed in NYC by John’s mentor, the late Alan Schneider. Next he read a short piece (which he learned at the salon was  “flash fiction”) titled “The Dolls” which was based, unfortunately, on a true story of a schoolroom shooting. Born in Chicago to an Italian father and Irish mother (his grandfather came from Roscommon), John is proud to be an Irish citizen. He’s an actor, director, playwright and teacher and grandfather.


Ryan Cahill

Since the evening began with one Cahill, it was only fitting to end with another. Ryan Winter Cahill brought the night to an exquisite close by singing two very different tales of lost love. First was a traditional English ballad “When I Was in My Prime” followed by a rendition of the Sonny Bono-penned number “Bang, Bang – My Baby Shot Me Down.” (She is, after all, Gary’s daughter.)

Don’t miss the next salon, but remember that June Salon dates are changed:

Wednesday, June 4th at 7:00pm at the Bar Thalia

Tuesday, June 10th, at 7:00 pm at The Cell.

May 9, 2014

IAW&A Salon at the Thalia, 5/6: A whole lot Irish, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll

Filed under: Irish Politics,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 3:23 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Several Irish-born artists joined the first May IAW&A Salon, including one of the “Transatlantic” poets from last month’s event. An SRO crowd, a variety of talent and a fast-paced program, thanks to host John Kearns, created a stellar night.


Tom Mahon

The talented Tom Mahon kicked off the night by reading a middle chapter of his novel, American Mastery, in which the Fenton brothers are in Frankfurt, Germany after their father dies. They sign another company to manufacture Mr. Kelly’s products. Charlie rises early and walks among Frankfurt’s international banks remembering his dream of being a hotshot financier in a city like Frankfurt. However, he sees what he has with his brother and Holly Simpson and Mr. Kelly, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. In a stunning section, the brothers visit the site of the concentration camp at Buchenwald. Charlie cannot bear to see it; Ray inhales it all so he’ll see it early next time. Can this happen again? Charlie asks, but his brother Ray doesn’t answer.


Phil Lynch

The Dublin-based poet Phil Lynch participated in last month’s Transatlantic Salon and, on Tuesday night, we were pleased to welcome him to the Thalia. He presented five of his poems:  “Encounters” a sonnet to and about love, followed by a futuristic piece “Progress.” Two poems related to Ireland, “If St. Patrick Could See Us Now” about the state of the nation and “1 September 1994” marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Phil finished his set with “In the Moment,” about finding contentment in our everyday lives. Phil’s work has been widely anthologized and featured on national and local radio including RTE’s Arena Arts Show. A frequent reader/performer at spoken word events in Ireland, he is a member of the organizing committee for Lingo, a spoken word festival to be held in Dublin in October.  And he’s always welcome at the Salon, whether in person or on screen.


Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon read from his poignant book, For Sue – A Memoir, the story of his childhood growing up alone with an alcoholic single mother. Tonight’s excerpt featured stories from Sue’s time in the 50s jazz scene in Los Angeles with Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Mel Blanc, Jonathan Winters, and others. Sue’s husband, jazz saxophonist Bob Gordon, died in a car accident. Jon Gordon is also a celebrated jazz saxophonist. For Sue is published by Chimbarazu Press and available on Amazon at


Amanda Doherty

New to the IAW&A Salon, but not to the spotlight, Amanda Doherty, actor and writer from Derry City, shared her beautiful love poem “The Eskimo” which was part of 2012 UK and Ireland-wide poetry installation “Peace Camp,” curated by Fiona Shaw. Read it at  Amanda trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Her acting credits include BBC’s The Fall, Hedda Gabbler and most recently, Medea Redux in NYC. She will return to the city in October when her original one-woman show Inheritance is showcased In the United Solo Festival on Theatre Row, W. 42nd Street.

Writes Amanda: “Thank you so much for welcoming me into your community so closely last night- it was a pleasure to get to meet you all and I cannot wait to be with you again this coming fall.”


John Kearns

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Logan-family patriarch, Seamus, arrives in the new world from Ireland. Seamus decides not to accompany his friends to a bar but to make his way along crowded and alien South and Pearl Streets to Saint James’s Church, dedicated to his English namesake. There he makes his first stop in his new country.


Maxine Linehan and her husband, Andrew

Another Irish-born performer made new fans and friends tonight with her beautiful voice and well-chosen songs. Cork-born, New York based singer Maxine Linehan performed two songs from her current solo concert, An American Journey. Accompanied on guitar by her husband Andrew Koss, she sang “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” originally performed by Martina McBride and U2’s  “Walk On.”


Maxine offers a special discount for IAW&A members –  $22 and that includes admission and complimentary drinks and snacks. Hurry, there are only two more performances:  Sunday May 11 and Wednesday May 14. The show is at the world class Terminus recording studios in Times Square (723 Seventh Avenue btw 48th & 49th Streets), doors open at 6pm, show at 7pm. For the discounted tickets:


Vivian O’Shaughnessy

Poet, translator and visual artist Vivian O’Shaughnessy read the poem “Combat/Battle of the Sexes,” which she translated, from the French. The poem is from the forthcoming collection Woman, I Am (Je La Femme, Enfin), poems about women by French/Italian academician Giovanni Dotoli. Vivian created the cover and 30 drawings for the book. She is often at the Salons at The Cell with her sketchpad. You can see her art at


Mary Lannon

Mary Lannon read the end of her short story “The Key To Catastrophe Management” in which her main character obsesses about the weather as a way to cope with romantic rejection. Mary’s working on publishing her first novel. Help her out by visiting her terrific website where you can friend her character on Facebook (and discover the title of the novel).


Christie Jones

First time presenter Christie Jones (also Irish-born, friend of Malachy’s) shared an essay “Reflections on A Dark Pool” about his early experiences in New York, making his way as an actor, supporting himself and his family as a cab driver. We hope to hear more of his work.


John Skocik

Last musical performance of the night belonged to rocker John Skocik, lead singer of the band Girl to Gorilla. (Like the band on Facebook.) John performed two of his original songs – “Movin’ to LA” and “Ordinary Life.” John is also an accomplished actor and always bring house down when he performs at the Salon.


Malachy McCourt

Our customary closer, Malachy McCourt, who started the IAW&A Salon almost three years ago, and presides as godfather and guiding spirit, offered some gentle advice to presenters, namely,  “Tell the fookin’ story.  Don’t read it” and urged us to consider the crowd not as an audience, but as friends. In closing, Malachy led the friends in a sweet round of the classic “Down by the Salley Gardens.”

Friends, next Salon will be May 20 at 7 pm at the Cell. Join us there.

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