Irish American Writers & Artists

August 24, 2016

8.16.16 IAW&A Salon: Hot August Night: Poets, Singers, Memoirists, History, and “Abrazos”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 3:02 pm

 By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

We tried not to mention the recent heat wave but we do want to thank the terrific presenters and appreciative audience who came to the mid-August IAW&A Salon at The Cell on a steamy NY night. They were rewarded with a program featuring several poets, singers, fiction writers, and two glimpses of growing up Irish American.

It’s safe to say that the emotional heart of the night belonged to a special guest, Guatemalan-American filmmaker Luis Argueta. Abrazos, the second documentary film in his immigration trilogy, shows a group of children who travel from the US to Guatemala to meet their grandparents, cousins, and in some instances, siblings, for the first time. Luis showed a few minutes of the film and entertained our many questions about his work and about the families shown in Abrazos. By the way, abrazos means “hugs” and salongoers, all of us descended from immigrants, did embrace Luis and his work. Find it at

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Filmmaker Luis Argueta

In honor of “The Races of Castlebar” in August of 1798, when the French landed in Mayo to help the United Irish rebellion, Salon producer and the night’s host John Kearns cleverly taught some Irish history in an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. John’s character Seamus Logan entertains his fellow steerage passengers with tales of the first heady days when the Irish and French armies first took Ballina and later forced the Redcoats to break ranks and flee from the county seat, Castlebar.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Host John Kearns

Kathleen O’Sullivan presented two iMovies from her charming illustrated memoir about her childhood on Isham Street in upper Manhattan. In “Flushed,” she’s a kindergartener traumatized by the long marches to the bathroom with the whole class and the resulting lack of privacy. In “Learning to Pray,” the young Kathleen, drying dishes, practicing her prayers, begs her mother to say a certain prayer to “Cheeses.”


Kathleen O’Sullivan

Another presenter who stepped back in time to his childhood, Mark Donnelly shared a funny monologue about his boyhood desire to be a cowboy. Complete with hat and bandanna, Mark showed the audience why Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were kid favorites in the 1950s.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Mark Donnelly’s cowboy

A poet published in the “Paris Review” and other magazines and publications here and abroad, William Leo Coakley read his poem “Votive” about a widow lighting a votive candle in an Irish church. Then he read from an unpublished novel by his late friend Mary Bringle, The Children’s Bullet. Set during the Troubles in Belfast, it describes a visitor and a family being invaded by what William calls “the delicate British troops.” Bringle wrote more than 20 novels including Hacks at Lunch and Murder Most Gentrified and based on the sample, we agree that The Children’s Bullet deserves to find a publisher.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

William Leo Coakley

Bernadette Cullen, an adjunct professor at the College of New Rochelle, read three poems: “So Many Questions,” “If Only We Could,” and “A Deep Thirst,” an evocation of how to greet the day after a long night.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Bernadette Cullen

Versatile singer/actress Ryan Cahill— she studied acting and musical theater at the HB Studios, performed off Broadway and in light opera companies—sang two folk songs:  “My Johnny Was A Shoemaker,” in which a woman hopes that her intended will return from his navy service as a decorated officer and marry her. In “The Bird Song,” birds of all shape and size converse, sometimes sidetracked, about the art of love and courting.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Ryan Cahill

Saluting his muse with the poem, “She,” John Anthony Brennan offers his poem in recognition of “all Muses without whose inspiration and encouragement we as artists would surely struggle much harder.” “Gullion: Mountain of the Slopes”, is John’s tribute to Sleive Gullion, the ancient volcanic mountain that played an important role in Irish history, mythology and folklore, and which sits near John’s hometown of Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh. You can read these poems at

Better yet, buy John’s memoir

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

John Brennan

Andre Archimbaud says that while he carries a very French name, he carries Ireland in his heart. He revealed that heart tonight by reading two tribute poems: “A Lot of Everything” for a friend’s late mother, and “My Luck of the Irish” about his uncle, Ken Corrigan.

IAWA Salon, Cell, 8/16/16

Andre Archimbaud

Actor/singer/writer Annalisa Chamberlin’s new passion project is building a portfolio of classical and folk music. Tonight she shared a sample with “Then You’ll Remember Me” from M. W. Balfe and Alfred Bunn’s 1843 opera “The Bohemian Girl, ending the Salon on a clear, sweet note.


Annalisa Chamberlain

Keep cool.


August 15, 2016

8/2 IAW&A Salon: An Intense, Intimate Summer Evening

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 7:28 pm
by Mary Lannon
Photos by Christopher Booth

Song, storytelling, acting, memoir and even a joke entertained the crowd at a short but intense Irish American Writers and Artists Salon on Thursday night, August 2nd, at Bar Thalia.


John McDonagh
One of the many stand-out performances of the evening was by John McDonagh who
will soon perform at the NYC Fringe Festival. To much laughter, he told the story of how
the Northern Irish Peace process cost him the million dollars that he would have won on
the reality TV show The Amazing Race. McDonagh will tell that story and others in his
one-man show, Cabtivist, at the NYC Fringe Fest beginning August 14th. See for more information.
John Brennan
The evening opened with John Brennan reading “Back When,” his memoir condensed to
1200 words and 10 minutes. It was, as Sarah Fearon termed it, “The microwave version
of his award winning book, Don’t Die with Regrets.”
Sarah Fearon introduced John McDonagh and talked about the WordWaves reading in Rockaway
Kathleen Vaughan
Next Kathleen Vaughan read a moving chapter from her upcoming memoir about being
orphaned called, Raised By Nuns & Drunks. The reading told the story of her Police
Athletic League(PAL) sponsored outing from The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home for
Kids to the Palisades Amusement Park. Vaughan remains thankful to PAL. Vaughan, a
Director of Career Services at the Grace Institute is a member of the County Cork
Association, Irish Business Organization, and a Director of Cathedral High School
Alumnae Association.
John Kearns
Then our gracious host for the evening, John Kearns, read an excerpt from his novel in
progress, Worlds, in which Kitty and Paul Logan travel to Ireland with their father in part
to help him cope with his death of his wife, Janey, six months before. Discovering that
they are in a touristy pub with amplified music in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Paul
insists on finding some authentic traditional music (which his mother had loved.) At the
more authentic pub, the Logan family runs into an orthodontist who knows Janey’s family
and the traditional music house parties they were known for hosting in West Philadelphia.
David Newkirk
In presenting two parts of the long poem Radii, first-time IAWA reader David Newkirk unraveled the mystery of a young woman feigning deafness and blindness (“Malingering”) and celebrated his preschooler son’s repulse of manipulation by a narcissistic relative (“The Refusal of Hate”). More of David’s writings are available at
Peadar O’Hici
Peadar O’Hici ended the first half singing “The Ballad of Sean McLoughlin,” an
original song about a socialist from Dublin. He became Commandant-General of the
army of the Irish Republic at the end of the Easter Rising in 1916. James Connolly was
injured and stretcher bound on the Thursday of that week and command was handed over to the 21-year old McLoughlin for the duration of the fighting.
Enjoying the break … 
Eilin O’Dea
Award-winning actress from Cork Eilin O’Dea performed a section from Antigone, a section from As You Like It and read some section from Edna O Brien’s, House of Splendid Isolation.
Sheila Houlihan Fee
Sheila Houlihan Fee had the crowd laughing at her joke: “An Amusing Confessional from
1916.” Fee is a New Yorker whose parents are from Limerick. She studied Irish Gaelic at
NUIG as a Fulbright winner.
Jack DiMonte
In a salute to Tony Bennett on his 90th birthday, Jack DiMonte told a brief story of
seeing the great singer in a live performance some years ago, and then launched into an
impromptu impression of Mr. Bennett’s singing “Because of You,” one of Tony’s first hits.
Marni Rice
The evening ending with the versatile Marni Rice reading an excerpt of a new play in
progress From the Flora Dora to Interpretive Dance. The play is about her grandmother,
a farm girl, vaudeville performer, and student of Martha Graham in the 1920’s. Rice also
sang us out with a traditional Irish ballad.
Don’t miss our next IAW&A Salon at the Cell on 8/16 starting at 7 pm!

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