Irish American Writers & Artists

February 26, 2016

2.16.16 IAW&A SALON: Tales of love, sex, and NY Irish Childhoods

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:22 am

By Karen Daly
Photos by Tom Mahon

 The Valentine’s Day spirit may have still been in the air at the IAW&A Salon at The Cell, where we had fictional and dramatic pieces that dealt with matters of love and sex. We also had reflections on growing up in New York Irish neighborhoods; trad music; great storytelling; a stirring new song; and the debut of an assured new talent.

Some members have events next week that are highlighted here in bold. Go and support their work.


Playwright Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon performed Sheila’s play-in-progress, When Love Comes Tumbling Down, in which a daughter’s wedding announcement exposes the regrets and longings in her parents’ long marriage. Done with wit, drama and soundtrack!


First time presenter Judith Glynn read a powerful personal essay, “My Father’s Forgotten Grave” that described her search for a grave never visited. She revealed that alcoholism overtook her father, resulting in neglect and a poverty-stricken childhood. Only in Judith’s later years as a fulfilled and successful woman does she want to thank her father for her life and absolve him graveside for his unintended abandonment. See Judith’s travel articles and books at


Journalist and playwright, (his Stoopdreamer played at The Cell to great acclaim), Pat Fenton brought us back with him to 1950s Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn with “Still the Same.” After being part of a teenage gang war, Pat concludes that he was influenced more by the innocence of the neighborhood than the violence.


Actor Rosina Fernhoff chose a monologue from Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, a play about gender confusion and change and matters pertaining to sex and time. She delivered a witty and sly portrayal of a young woman’s sexual discovery.

On Thursday, 3/3, Rosina will be in The Piano Teacher at St. Malachy, the Actors Chapel at 239 West 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. It’s at 7:30pm, and it’s free.

IMG_9169IMG_9166 Sex was also the subject, or perhaps the non-subject of Kathleen O’Sullivan’s chapter from her memoir Isham Street, because she learned that her family would do anything to avoid the topic. When her inquiry about where babies came from was met with misinformation, the child spent her time wondering what life would be like if another family had bought her at the hospital first.  After much analysis – and charming drawings – she was relieved that the O’Sullivan’s got to the hospital first and bought her. Kathleen presented the chapter as an iMovie video with illustrations and voice-over narration.


Trad music star/expert Don Meade performed several tunes. On octave harmonica, he played “The Road to the Isles” and “The Galop” both from Tom Doherty, a Donegal melodeon player and regular at the Eagle Tavern in the 1980s. Don sang “You Rambling Boys of Pleasure,” from Co. Antrim singer Robert Cinnamond. He ended with a slow air “An Binsin Luachra” and reel, “The Volunteer” on a chromatic harmonica, in memory of Sandy Boyer. Follow Don at and join his sessions at the Landmark Tavern on Monday nights.


Do you remember Grandpa Al Lewis from The Munsters? John McDonagh revealed that Lewis was an Irish Republican and he talked about their time together as WBAI radio hosts. In another funny bit, John also showed a video clip of himself calling in from his Yellow cab to legendary radio host Bob Fass about what was happening in the city in the wee small hours.


In Tom Mahon’s story “First Date,” a future power couple have already fallen in love via Skype, but have been too busy to meet until tonight. They’re both very tall, and played basketball in college and work in New York. The woman arrives late, and takes four phone calls, until finally the man leaves the table. When he returns, he asks her to marry him. Lest you think this is a happy ending, Tom has a new version in which the man doesn’t return.

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In Maureen Hossbacher’s piece, “Telling Stories,” a young girl at her father’s wake recalls his flair for storytelling, especially his tales of ghosts and banshees and other typically Irish malarky that makes light of death. The tale was enhanced by Maureen’s lilting reading.


Seamus Scanlon read a flash fiction piece called “The Kray Twins” about the famous criminals.

On Wednesday, 3/2 at 6:00 pm, Seamus’ one act play “The Long Wet Grass will be at the Center for Worker Education (City College) 25 Broadway (1 train to Rector, 4/5 to Bowling Green). Free and open to the public. ID needed.

Salon producer and the night’s host John Kearns was thrilled to hear Rosina Fernhoff bring to life his latest excerpt from his novel in progress Worlds. In the excerpt, Logan family patriarch, James, stands at the stern of a Hudson-River ferry, reflecting about the new phase of his life that is about to begin.  As he embarks upon his move from 1880s New York to Philadelphia, he looks back at the city that has been his first home in the New World and forward to the city his friend has recommended.

On Wednesday, Mar 3/2 at 6:30 pm John will be giving a talkback on Sean O’Casey and his times after a reading of  “A Pound On Demand” and “Bedtime Story” at the Mid-Manhattan Library.


Guenevere Donohue gifted us with two folk songs to close out the evening. She debuted a brand new composition created in celebration of the Easter Rising, “The Spirit Rises.” Two lines from the chorus of this tribute:

And if the children remember
The spirit will stay

Then, with a dedication to Sandy Boyer, Guen sang Brendan Behan’s “The Old Triangle” with us joining on the chorus.

Don’t forget our March date at Bar Thalia, on Thursday, March 3rd.

February 16, 2016

2/3/16 IAW&A Salon: Postcards, Sheep, Faeries, and Something for Everyone

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:21 am

By Mark William Butler
Photos by Kevin McPartland

It was business as usual at the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon at Bar Thalia on Tuesday February 3rd, when the topics included postcards, sheep, Celtic faeries, dunce caps, James Dean, St. Grace’s Day, finger snapping, and the inherent humor of male genitalia – a little something for everyone, as it were.


Andrew Byrne, Artistic Director of Symphony Space

John Kearns got things rolling by introducing special guest Andrew Byrne, the Artistic Director of Symphony Space, who dropped by to say hello and offer words of encouragement to the IAW&A, which he called “a member of the Symphony Space family.”


John Kearns

John then read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, about Seamus Logan’s arrival in the New World in the late 19th century.  Wandering the streets of Lower Manhattan after getting off of the boat at South Street Seaport, Seamus finds his way to Saint James’s Church near Chatham Square.  After saying a few decades of the rosary, Seamus meets the church’s cleaning lady who is also from Mayo, tells her his name is James, and accepts a room in her nearby boarding house.


Ray Lindie

Ray Lindie was up next, reading from his new play, Jimmy Dean’s Alive. The lead character, James, is enamored of James Dean, and often thinks of himself as Dean, an escape mechanism he uses to separate himself from the three women he is forced to live with: his mother, her lover (a large masculine southern lesbian), and her new found friend, a young pregnant Irish Au-Pair. As Ray so devilishly put it; “Let the games begin.”


Rosina Fernhof

Rosina Fernhof then performed a monologue from Synge’s most beautiful play, “Riders to the Sea,” which is the story of a mother who has seen all of her sons swallowed by the sea. “They are all together now,” she laments. “The end has come.”  Tinged with bitterness but final acceptance, the monologue reflects the life of this Irish woman.


Sean Carlson

Board member Sean Carlson shared a short story about an airport without postcards as an introduction to an essay he wrote about one of his childhood favorites (Rush Hour – Ireland) and a car-travel game it provoked. One attendee tweeted her favorite line about “traffic woes that do not implicate sheep,” and plenty of discussion followed at the bar afterwards about other memories of postcards and the past. Sean also took the opportunity to introduce a new form — available at — for anybody interested in reading or performing at future Salons.


Sarah Fearon

Fellow board member and fearless comedian Sarah Fearon then wrapped up the first half of the evening by trying a first draft of some new comedic material. Focusing on people who drive us crazy – ranging from those who use the phrase “Full Disclosure” inappropriately to those we should be intolerant of for their intolerances – and some who narrate every train of thought they have at the expense of our sanity. Also on tap were a few inventions for an APP and a new GPS system to improve our lives. Sarah promises that her train of thought will be continued. We hope so.

After the break, and the inevitable beverages, Mr. Kearns continued the proceedings with a reminder about the St. Pat’s for All Parade fundraiser, to be held at the Irish Arts Center on Friday, March 4th from 6-10pm. The event includes a reception, music, and some literary shenanigans, with an appearance by the man himself, the legendary Malachy McCourt. Enjoy some great food at a great show for a great cause!


Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran then delighted the crowd with her poetry, reading three pieces that all had a winter theme, and succeeded in warming up the room.


Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. then shared a monologue based on an interview with Dr. Raymond Barfield, in which the doctor discussed children, cancer, and death. The interview appeared in the January 2016 issue of the literary magazine The Sun. He followed that up with a second monologue, “Dick”, which is part of a play Gordon himself wrote called Monologues from the Old Folks Home. The character is a World War Two veteran who chose to reside at the rest home called, “Serendipity” instead of a V.A. home, because of the larger number of women there. Most of the monologue is about his good relationship with his, well, “dick”.


Mark Tompkins

Newcomer Mark Tompkins then read from his Irish-themed debut novel, The Last Days of Magic. The novel is being published by Penguin Random House on March 1st and his official book tour concludes at the April 7th IAW&A salon. The Last Days of Magic is an epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and traitorous faeries, mad kings and exorcists, and a broken Goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost – medieval Ireland.


Jack DiMonte

Salon regular Jack DiMonte then treated us to a Jimmy Buffett song, “He Went To Paris”, which encapsulates one man’s story from youth in Paris to old age in Florida.  In a few minutes it has the impact of a sweeping biography as it carries the listener through the emotional highs and lows of its unnamed protagonist, hurdling across the eras of his life.


John Paul Skocik

Closing out the show was the dynamic John Paul Skocik, who returned with three songs: “One In a Million”, piece about youth and it’s impending end; “Alien” a pretty tune (though lyrically misanthropic, as it asks why should we deal with the problems of others when we don’t want to deal with our own); and lastly “California Time,” the tale of a New York man-about-town engaging in a catch-up phone conversation with an ex currently on the west coast, only to realize (too late, of course) that he wishes that he was also in California. John continues to write but has not performed a live show in some time, something he plans to remedy soon. In the meantime, we’re always happy to have him jam with us.

We’ll see you next time – in this case on Tuesday, February 16th (7pm) at The Cell Theatre – which promises to be another celebration of words, music, and occasional nonsense.

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