Irish American Writers & Artists

June 27, 2016

6.21.16 IAW&A Salon: School’s Out!: Saluting Young Talent with our McCourt Award, plus Teachers, Students, Life Lessons

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 4:17 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Christopher Booth

The end of June brings the end of school and, for the IAW&A, a time to honor the legacy of Frank McCourt by giving an award for literary excellence to a graduate of NYC’s Frank McCourt High School. In fact, the submissions were so strong this year, we gave awards to three students. Winners of IAW&A’s 2016 McCourt Award for Creative Writing, Natasha Neil, Evony Morel and Milena Blue Spruce, were our special guests at the Salon on June 21. Graduating this week, the young women read sections of their winning entries and wowed the audience with their talent and poise. We were delighted to cheer them on!


Natasha Neil, Evony Morel and Milena Blue Spruce

In keeping with the educational theme, Brendan Costello, IAW&A Board Member and teacher of Creative Writing at City College organized a Salon dedicated to teachers and students and enlivened with great musical performances. Brendan hosted the night with Salon producer John Kearns.


Brendan Costello


Joseph Stanton

Showing how IAW&A’s fame is growing, the Salon attracted presenters from Hawaii and Australia. A poet and scholar from Hawaii, Joseph Stanton read selections from his five poetry collections. His choices dealt with themes of baseball and film, including “The Birds” (yes, Hitchcock) and “Fernando Tatis Hits Two Grand Slams in One Inning.” You can appreciate and see the inspiration for “Michael Langenstein’s Play Ball” at A professor of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawaii, Joseph recently gave a workshop at Poets House. For his latest collection,


Kristen Daniels

IAW&A Salon first timer Kristen Daniels, a student in Brendan Costello’s creative writing workshop, read a heartfelt piece “On Earth as It Is in Heaven” about her struggle with faith and about the journey she went on in search of a sign.


Thom Molyneaux

Thom Molyneaux is creating a one-man show called Me and the Monologue, which he performed in front of a live audience for the first time at the Salon. Thom demonstrated his acting chops by delivering Shakespeare’s “Oh, for a muse of fire…” He stepped into the role of Tom, in the brilliant opening and closing monologues of The Glass Menagerie and ended with Malachi Stack, a charming slightly disreputable Irish philosopher, from Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.


Frances O’Neill

Composer and singer Frances O’Neill, visiting from Australia, described her journey to learning about her Scottish/Irish roots, on hearing that her family had “royal” O’Rourke blood. That journey resulted in her composing a musical, The Last Torch, set at the turn of the 16th century when an O’Rourke saved survivors of a shipwreck from the Spanish Armada on the West Coast of Ireland. Frances shared a lovely song called “Eleanor’s Aria” from The Last Torch, which premiered at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.


Maura Mulligan

Author and dance teacher, Maura Mulligan told a story from her memoir, Call of the Lark, about her first feis – a dancing competition in her native County Mayo. Maura’s mother reminded her to “bow to the ferret,” the dance judge known locally as “Ferret Flatly.” Having lost a medal to her sister Mag, the young Maura kicked her shoe off and was disqualified from the competition when the shoe “went flying through the air, landing with a bang on the Ferret’s table.”


Marie Reilly


Anne Kelly, Alice Ryan, Silpa Sadhujan and Kim Tulloch

Maura’s students Anne Kelly, Alice Ryan, Silpa Sadhujan and Kim Tulloch brought the scene to life dancing a vivacious and flawless Four Hand Reel, accompanied by renowned fiddler Marie Reilly. Next stop for Maura and Marie will be the Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis this summer.

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Alice Smyth

IAW&A Salon newcomer Alice Smyth trained her voice and on harp with Eily O’Grady Patterson and her husband, the late tenor, Frank Patterson. This year’s NY Rose of Tralee’s People’s Choice Rose, Alice was inspired to get back to performing her Irish folk song repertoire. She did so tonight with two lovely songs, a Gaelic song, plus “Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry.”


Mary Lannon

Mary Lannon read a charming excerpt from her first novel with the impossibly long title of An Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon aka How I Became a Scientist and Discovered the Truth About Getting Stuck in the Wrong Universe by Miranda J. McCleod. At work on her second novel, Mary is an Associate Professor of English at Nassau Community College.


Kevin Holohan

Kevin Holohan’s passage from his darkly funny novel The Brothers’ Lot described the questionable educational methods deployed by The Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means. Kevin describes “the laughably clumsy vocation recruitment tactics of the doddering Brother Kennedy and the boys’ brilliantly exasperating use of deliberate obtuseness and feigned stupidity.” When not engaged in trying to finish his second novel, Kevin puts occasional little mad bits of scribbling here


Alisa Rose

Vocalist Alisa Rose studied opera before finding her connection to traditional Celtic and folk music. Her powerful voice filled the Cell with “I Wonder What’s Keeping My True Love Tonight.” A musician and scholar, she notes that it was one of the few songs that seems to have survived purely by oral tradition. More about her at Learn about, and support her premiere album at


Guenevere Donohue

Fearless Guenevere Donohue delivered a brand new rant/monologue/essay she calls “Fear of Teaching,” about good and bad teachers, humility, and hubris being their respective hallmarks. Guen ended with an illustration of how a stranger can become a teacher by witnessing our effort, and offering encouragement. In Guen’s case, a man overheard her practicing her singing in a park and offered, “I see you. I hear you. Keep going.”


Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher brought the evening to a hilarious conclusion with her parody of “My Favorite Things,” itemizing some of the less gratifying aspects of her teaching career at Hunter College.

But when nostalgia for the classroom
leaves me feeling sad
I simply remember the things I don’t miss
And then I don’t feel so bad 

Christopher Booth, whose photographs appear here,invites everyone to his reading from James Joyce on Monday, June 27 at 7:30 pm at Swift Hibernian Lounge, 34 East 4th Street, NYC. Readings are in the back room, past the bar. Readings take place on the 4th Monday of each month. For more info, go to

See you next time at Bar Thalia, Thursday, July 7 at 7 pm.


June 18, 2016

6-1-16 IAW&A Salon Turns Five!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 12:06 am

by Mark William Butler
Photos by Tom Mahon

It was a time of celebration for the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon as they celebrated the fifth anniversary of their monthly visit to Bar Thalia, the funky little “basement bistro” in the seemingly infinite Symphony Space creative universe. Host and Salon Producer John Kearns got the party started by sharing news of other recent IAW&A events – including their participation in the “Welcoming Ireland,” the Irish Consulate’s and New York City’s commemoration of the Easter Rising Centenary at Battery Park; their own 1916 bash in April at The Cell Theatre – which included a very special appearance by none other than Barbara Jones, the Consul General of Ireland in NYC, and a special IAW&A Salon in May, which was part of Salon Eire 100 at Glucksman Ireland House.


Vivian O’Shaughnessy

John then kicked things into gear by introducing Vivian O’Shaughnessy, a writer and artist who shared a poignant, autobiographical monologue.


Terrence Lavin

Vivian was followed by writer Terrence Lavin, who spun a fascinating family tale of mystery and intrigue: he discovered a 125-year-old family secret in the New York Times archives. An article from 1889 revealed that his great-great grandfather, Patrick, an immigrant from County Mayo and a New York City policeman, killed two people on the job and was subsequently indicted for manslaughter for one of the killings. Poring through old indictment records and witness statements, Lavin reinvestigated the incident, and actually tracked down the great-great grandson of the man Patrick clubbed to death. He wrote about this story, and genealogical journey, publishing it in the New York Times in 2014. Currently, he is shopping a TV drama script about Tammany Hall’s Pequod Club which his great-great grandfather was a member. John Sheehan’s infamous Pequod Club, which was the political club representing the Chelsea area,  was the cross section of corruption, politics, media and even the invention of vaudeville.


John Kearns

John Kearns himself then read a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Paul Logan tells the story of John McIlhenny, a friend who had tread the boards of his life but was never a major character.  John McIlhenny gets into an argument with his boss and quits the greasy spoon where he had been working only to run into a crew of Irish sailors who need a cook for their tall ship.  John signs on with them, crosses the Atlantic a couple of times, and becomes a DJ for a pirate radio station in Ireland.

John was followed by the poet Jenifer Margaret Kelly, who read several of her lovely original poems.


Jenifer Margaret Kelly



Eilin O’Dea

Cork-born Eilin O’Dea then regaled the audience with an off-book excerpt from Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from the final section of Joyce’s Ulysses.  Did she wow the salon crowd?  Yes she did yes!


Board member Sarah Fearon enjoying the IAW&A Salon


Tom Mahon

After a short break that featured warm conversation and cold refreshments, the evening continued with Tom Mahon, the writer/actor/video artist who read a story called “Veal” from his collection of vignettes Tomorrow Never Came.  Taken from the point of view of a bull calf, it recounts his life after his mother is taken away, and then he is – to the slaughter house.


Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert then treated the audience to some of his unique and powerful poetry, before giving way to John Paul Skocik, who returned to the Salon to perform three new songs, the first a little musical departure called “Trolling,” about internet trolls and their motivations. The second song was brand new song semi-inspired by Memorial Day called “World War II,” about leaving a loved one to go off to war.  He finished with “The American Dream,” a tune about what we assume we are entitled to and learning what really matters.


John Paul Skocik


John Munnelly

John Munnelly then took the stage and presented a dynamic combination of his original art and music, with a “remembrance” theme which included commemorating the 1916 Easter Uprising and honoring Memorial Day weekend. He shared a set of portraits of the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation plus a frontispiece, and also performed several songs; “Flagpole Blues”, “Nowhere Without You”, and a new, as yet untitled tune. More information about John’s artwork (including discounts and special editions) can be found at You can check out some of his music at


Malachy McCourt

Finally, our incomparable leader, our roaring lion – Malachy McCourt – brought this Memorial Day show to a memorable close when he poignantly and humorously pointed out how the mythology of war movies and songs differs from the realities of actual combat and its very tragic aftermath, finishing with a stirring performance of the Irish anti-war song, “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye.”

We all then slipped into the New York night, remembering the first five years of the Salon and ready for many more.

See you at our next IAW&A Salon at The Cell Theatre on June 21st at 7 pm!

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