Irish American Writers & Artists

December 30, 2016

12.20.16 IAW&A Salon: Our Holiday Classic: A time for music, gifts, poetry and reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 2:01 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

The popular Christmas Salon took place on Tuesday, 12/20 in the elegant upstairs space at the Cell. Salon producer and host John Kearns greeted an SRO crowd and welcomed Shane Cahill, Vice Consul General of Ireland in New York. John congratulated IAW&A board member Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, just back from Ireland where she and Brendan Fay received a 2016 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for their work as the co-chairs of St. Pat’s For All.


Jack Di Monte, left,  John Kearns

Versatile singer Jack Di Monte kicked off the celebration with “The Christmas Song,” universally known by its first words “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Jack gave it a bossa nova feel, and the crowd spontaneously joined him. In a more somber mood, he paid tribute to the great musical performers lost in 2016, choosing to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” Calling it a song of hope in opposition to chaos and despair, Jack notes the famous line that alludes to the Liberty Bell, among other things, “There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”


Poet/professor Bernadette Cullen, pictured at right, gave a sensitive reading of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky’s Nativity poem, “Flight into Egypt (2)” translated by Seamus Heaney.

That night, as three, they were at peace.

Smoke like a retiring guest

slipped out the door.

Continuing the nativity theme, Bernadette read two of her own poems.

More poetry, this time in tribute to the Irish poet John Montague, who died recently, was read by writer/ filmmaker of Emerald City, Colin Broderick, together with actor and former Irish boxing champ John Duddy. More about Montague at

                 Larry Kirwan, left, Colin Broderick

In honor of the season, IAW&A president Larry Kirwan sang Phil Ochs’ song “Ballad of the Carpenter” and spoke about IAW&A’s role in encouraging artists. In an eloquent reminder of what we stand for, IAW&A Board member and actor Maria Deasy read our mission statement, which includes the sentence. While avoiding party affiliation and endorsing no candidates for public office, IAW&A is outspoken in defense of artistic freedom, human rights and social justice. Find the mission statement in its entirety here:

Christmas Salon, Cell, 12/20/16

 Urban Librarians Unite Executive Director Christian Zabriskie and Board Chair Lauren Comito with Mark Butler

This year, we donated to three groups whose work fits with our mission. They are Urban Librarians Unite, a library advocacy and support group,; The Dwelling Place of New York, a transitional residence for homeless women, and Friends of Firefighters, which provides counseling and wellness services to active and retired NYFD members and their families,

In addition to these gifts, each year we present the Frank McCourt Literary Prize to graduating seniors of the Frank McCourt High School.

Christmas Salon, Cell, 12/20/16

Karen Daly, left, Sr. Joann Sambs of The Dwelling Place of New York
                       Eamon Loinsigh, left, Mark Byrne

Author Eamon Loingsigh introduced his brand new novel, Exile on Bridge Street, the second book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, following the well-received Light of the Diddicoy, both pubbed by Three Rooms Press. Then actor Mark Byrne gave a dramatic reading of a section of Exile, which James T. Fisher, author of On the Irish Waterfront, calls “…this gripping tale, soaked in the Irish immigrant dockworker experience and laden with real life legends from a vanished world.” Find Eamon at

 Richard Butler, left, as Lulu,  John Skocik as Cazz

Mark William Butler and company brought the holiday fun with two songs from his play, Ugly Christmas Sweater, The Musical. The amazing Richard Butler as Lulu the evil Christmas Fairy sang “The One and Only Me” and John Skocik brought to life Cazz, the virtuous ugly Christmas sweater with “A Chance to Fit In.”

Christmas Salon, Cell, 12/20/16

Author and playwright Honor Molloy’s  vivid reading of her glowing piece Sixpence the Stars,” fondly known as “Duh Lickle Arrr-anges,”an excerpt from her autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage, has become an IAW&A Christmas tradition. You can find it here: hear that Honor’s play, Crackskull Row, will be produced at the Irish Repertory Theatre in the spring. Honor is pictured at left.


We had music and musical collaboration, including the talented cellist Leah Rankin who played “Julie-O” by Mark Summer, and an Irish holiday medley featuring Pachelbel’s “Frolics.”  Singer, songwriter, musician Cathy Maguire sang, “Off to Join the World” by Cowboy Jack Clement.

Goodbye cruel circus

I’m off to join the world…

Noting that while Malachy McCourt couldn’t join us on Tuesday, it wouldn’t be a holiday Salon without his favorite song, Cathy led us in “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Leah Rankin, left, Cathy Maguire and Leah Rankin

The McCourts were represented by Siobhan McCourt in her first IAW&A reading. Saying that the McCourt brothers were “a hard act to follow,” Siobhan charmed us with “Santa’s Present” by Alphie McCourt, whom we mourned this year. You can find his stories on I-tunes, read by the man himself.

John Munnelly, left,  Siobhan McCourt

Closing the Salon on a high note, Leah Rankin joined John Munnelly on his composition “Angels’ Tears” and Cathy Maguire joined them for “Happy Christmas” from the CD Together for Christmas, A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection. For John’s music, videos and appearances, go to  John’s also a visual artist whose commemorative #1916 Signatories Portraits are available. For further info, contact him at

 Special thanks to our presenters, hosts, members, supporters, committee members, volunteers and the hard-working staff of the Cell for contributing to a fantastic IAW&A year.

 Happy New Year!  Mark your calendars for the first Salon of 2017 on Thursday, January 5th at 7pm at Bar Thalia.




December 6, 2016

12.1.16 IAW&A Salon: Sharing new work, enjoying new music

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 6:07 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Mark Butler 

Before we get to the Salon rundown, please note two intriguing Irish literature events this week.Tonight (Tuesday, 12/6) Honor Molloy and friends will present Voices Carry — Irish Women Writing, a program of dramatic readings from memoir, novels, poetry, and drama at the Irish Arts Center.  We hear it’s sold out.

Irish composer Stano’s unique film In Between Silence, where we really exist is playing now until 12/13 at the Barrow Street Theatre. The film collects intimate stories by leading Irish writers, including Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Joseph O’Connor and Paula Meehan. ( For tickets:


Our early December Salon at Bar Thalia was a casual night when members comfortably shared a number of works-in-progress. Storytellers, fiction writers, and singers were on the program.

John Kearns, left,  photo by Christopher Booth.  Brendan Costello.

Salon producer and host John Kearns quieted the chattering non-salon crowd with a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. In this segment, the aging Sarsfield Logan, S.J., meets the young priest whom he suspects will be his replacement to teach his favorite course.

More fiction from Brendan Costello Jr., IAW&A board member and writing instructor at City College. The scene from his novel-in-progress reflected a character’s ambivalent feelings toward his father in the grim irony of the father’s passing. Brendan promises to share something lighter next time!

Brendan’s former student, Kristen Daniels read a part of her story tentatively,  and intriguingly titled Irish Anonymous. She’s developing it in a workshop class at City College and plans to expand it into a novel.

Kristen Daniels, left.  Bernadette Cullen

Bernadette Cullen read a small section from what she calls “a forever work in progress” in which she evokes a family beach outing on a hot July Saturday.

Sampling her program at IAC, Honor Molloy read “The Bride,” not a work in progress, in fact, a story written in the 1950’s by  Maeve Brennan. “The Bride” is an Irish-born maid working for a Westchester family. The story is set on the eve of Margaret’s marriage and she is terrified.

img_6132 Honor Molloy

Jazzman and author Jon Gordon told stories from his book project “Finding the Miraculous.” In one story, Jon was on a jazz cruise, wishing for shooting star and miraculously seeing one.

Salon Thalia, 5/5/16

Jon Gordon. Photo by Cat Dwyer.

In the music department, Mark William Butler shared a funny new song, “What It Is” from one of his latest writing projects, Cubikill, The Musikill, a corporate horror movie parody. Check out Mark’s work at and


Mark Butler. Photo by Christopher Booth.

Singer Clare Horgan, visiting from Ireland, showed her range with two songs, one a sean nos song about Skellig Rock on St. Michael’s Day, and the other a ballad. Learn more at   Musician/singer Adrianna Mateo sang two of her originals: “August Sun” (better to burn than keep feeling numb) and the haunting “Come with Me to Coney Island.” More at

Clare Horgan, left, photo from her website. Adrianna Mateo. Photo by Cat Dwyer.

We’re gearing up for the grand Holiday Salon at the Cell on Tuesday, 12/20 with such wonderful talent as Leah Rankin, Jack DiMonte, Honor Molloy, John Munnelly, Cathy Maguire, Eamon Loinsigh, and surprise guests. Plus, after-party and plenty of good cheer.  Mark your calendars!

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