Irish American Writers & Artists

August 21, 2017

8.15.17 IAW&A SALON: Musical, Moving and Drop-Dead Funny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 10:14 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark Butler

Three theater pieces, musical variety, poetry, video and lots of laughs were featured at the August IAW&A Salon at The Cell. Members continue to be inspired by last month’s immigration-themed Salon and by the topic of Malachy McCourt’s latest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal.


The audience cheered when Salon producer and host John Kearns read briefly from IAW&A mission statement: 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. For its entirety, go to


Erin Krebs and Madden McDonagh

College students Madden McDonagh and Erin Krebs made their Salon debut with an accomplished rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Erin, a musical theater student, sang and Madden accompanied her on piano. They have been playing music together since they were 14 and offered their artistic vision to Cabtivist, the one-man show by IAW&A veteran and Madden’s dad, John McDonagh.

thom ros

Thom Molyneaux and Rosina Fernhoff

Thom Molyneaux raves that Rosina Fernhoff  “rocked the house” in a scene from Re-Wrighting the Creeping Venomed Spider King, Thom’s play about Shakespeare and the writing of his early masterpiece Richard III. As Queen Elizabeth, she was “…bright, witty, vulnerable and powerful with a spine of steel…” and had a theatricality that embodied the script. Thom and Rosina thank our IAW&A audience for its “support, warmth and exciting response.”


Madeline Artenberg

Madeline Artenberg presented three dramatically visual and moving poems with the underlying theme of the spoken and unspoken. They were: “From Nothing, about a father’s immigration to Ellis Island.  In “Rock Chick Sonata,” a mother’s lost dream has consequences for a daughter. In  “First Date,”  an innocent teenager is filled with angst, curiosity and hope on a first date in Coney Island.

tom sheila

Sheila Walsh, Sarah Fearon, and Tom Mahon,

Tom Mahon, Sarah Fearon and Sheila Walsh showed their comic chops in Sheila’s short play Birdie and Sue. Tom and Sheila, played the fantastical couple of the title, and Sarah, their perplexed friend. You’ll be able to see it in a program of one-act plays, Lost and Found.  We’ll announce the reading date.


Kathleen O’Sullivan

osull ireland

Kathleen O’Sullivan has been sharing her video autobiography-in-progress, “From Ireland to Isham Street” and it promises to be a lyrical account of her coming-of-age. The segment she showed tonight introduces the O’Sullivan family and their ancestral island in the West of Ireland. Her parents emigrated to America and eventually settled in Northern Manhattan, where the river and rocky cliffs reminded them of home.


Jon Gordon

Struck by John Kearns’s reading from IAW&A’s mission statement, jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon told the story of a particular moment in music history that brought together geniuses of different origins: Nat King Cole’s recording of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” in an arrangement by Italian- born Pete Rugolo. Jon read the lyrics of the brilliant song and then, played it on his sax, brilliantly.

derek play

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy gave great comic performances as the Kelly women in a scene from Derek Murphy’s dark comedy Dyin’ For It. Gathered around the bedside of the supposedly dying patriarch, the alarmed family realizes he might be showing ever-so-slight signs of recovery. If the Kelly women don’t kill each other first, they may have to put an end to the despicable Wally Kelly themselves, and before Christmas.


Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer’s very funny story addresses the question of whether aspiring writers should get an MFA or just go live in New York. Perhaps thinking about Malachy McCourt’s new book, Brent suggests a novel idea: a combined cemetery plot and writing program for, well, dead writers. Brent calls it: “MFA or NYC: Post Mortem Program to Have Scribes Knock Knock Knocking at the Gate of Heaven.”


Sheryl Helene Simler

Sheryl Helene Simler, poet, singer, dramatist, artist, demonstrated two of her talents by reading two original haiku, and singing, a cappella, two blues songs, including “Baby, Please Don’t Go.”


Miranda J. Stinson’s

We heard another humorous take on an aspect of dying in Miranda J. Stinson’s poem “The Men of Mortuaries Calendar.” Miranda read two beautiful poems, “Ghazal,” inspired by Maryam Alikhani’s reading at the immigration salon and “Belfast Nights,” perhaps inspired by the year she lived in Ireland.


John Kearns

John Kearns’s “Overture on Anger and Forgiveness” introduces the final section of his novel in progress Worlds. Using phrases and clauses from the section it introduces, the Overture mixes words of anger and forgiveness in a non-narrative musical way.


Don Meade

Ending the night with even more music, trad music star and expert Don Meade brought his tenor guitar and played Irish and Appalachian tunes and entertained us with an Irish music hall song, “The Mice Are at It Again.”


Don’t miss the next one, Thursday, September 7, 7 pm, Bar Thalia.




August 8, 2017

IAW&A Salon to Perform at Ireland’s Electric Picnic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:15 pm

The Irish American Writers and Artists Inc. (IAW&A) Salon is going to Ireland for the first time!

IAW&A members will be performing two mini-salons in the Literary Tent at the Electric Picnic in County Laois, Ireland. The preeminent arts and music festival, now in its 13th year, is being held at Stradbally Hall from September 1st through 3rd.

According to the Electric Picnic website:

Set among the ancient trees on the lawns of Stradbally Hall you’ll find an oasis of literary readings, political debate, performance poetry, science experiments, inspiring talks, news quizzes, public conversations and much more.”

How did this happen?

It all started when Electric Picnic organizer Marty Mulligan attended an IAW&A Salon in the fall of 2016.  He was so impressed with what he saw, he offered the salon time slots at his festival along with accommodations and spending money.   It was up to IAW&A to obtain funding for air fares.

Thanks to the generosity of the Irish Consulate, the IAW&A received the travel funding in mid-July.  And so began the necessarily short process of selecting presenters for the Electric Picnic salons.

The IAW&A Board of Directors and Salon Committee nominated and voted on many talented artists and the following were selected to represent work developed at the salon during its first six years, ranging from plays to novels to comedy:

  1. John McDonagh – Cabtivist — developed and presented entirely at the salon
  2. Sarah Fearon – TED Talks NYC – based on comedy material developed and presented at the salon
  3. Kathleen Donohoe — Ashes of Fiery Weather – board member/salon presenter who obtained a book contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  4. Maria Deasy (with Dublin-based Sarah Lafferty) in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It — developed and presented entirely at the salon.

IAW&A Salon producer John Kearns will act as host and round out the mini-salons with some poetry.

The IAW&A Board also voted to fly Derek Murphy to Ireland so that he can see his work performed.

IAW&A thanks the Electric Picnic and the Irish Consulate for making this possible.  We hope this will be the first of many salons in Ireland and that many more of our salon presenters will be able to share their work in the Emerald Isle in the coming years.

John McDonagh’s Cabtivist
Sarah Fearon’s Ted Talks NYC
sarah maria
Sarah Lafferty and Maria Deasy in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It
Kathleen Donohoe
John Kearns

derekDerek Murphy


8.3.17 IAW&A Salon: Sweet Summer Sounds and Heart-Rending Poems

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 3:35 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by John A. Brennan

The first August IAW&A Salon began with the sweet summery tone of Annalisa Chamberlin and after poets, actors and fiction writers, ended with Guenevere Donohue performing a poem and song that gave one salon goer “chills.” Three first time presenters appeared on the program, and we’re thrilled to have Malachy McCourt (and family) back at Bar Thalia after a short absence.


Annalisa Chamberlin, accompanied on acoustic guitar by host and Salon producer John Kearns, performed two songs from their set at the Live and Local event at the Rockaways last weekend. They were the American songbook classic, “Lullaby of Birdland” and Stephen Sondheim’s “The Girls of Summer.”

Annalisa, at left, will appear at the Cry Havoc Company’s (she is a proud resident artist) workshop of five original 10-minute plays this weekend on Governors Island’s Nolan Park, Building 11. Hop on the ferry for an entertaining afternoon on Saturday, August 12 at 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm and Sunday, August 13 at 1:30 pm.  Details at

Obie award winning actor Rosina Fernhoff mesmerized the audience with a short monologue from South African playwright Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca. Based on the story of artist Helen Martins, the play explores the passion to create regardless of the struggle, in this instance, apartheid. Rosina notes that Martins’ sculpture gardens can still be seen in the Karoo area of South Africa. Rosina performed “A Letter to the President” from Tony Kushner’s first play, A Bright Room Called Day, written in the Bush era, and appropriate in Trump era.

Rosina Fernhoff, Tom Mahon

In Tom Mahon’s evocative story “Rose Marie Kelly,” an 11-year old boy discovers a small cemetery on his family’s farm and finds a tombstone of a girl who died in 1897 at age 12. Startled by how young she was, he prays to her and her ghost appears. The ghost promises to grant his wishes, if he visits on her birthday every year. And he does for twenty-five years, receiving all he needs and most of what he wants.
Reading for the first time at the IAW&A Salon (and for the first time anywhere!),Caroline McEvoy shared a short story exploring the relationship between a young Irish immigrant working as a waitress in Manhattan and her recently deceased relative, who also had lived in America as a young woman during the 1950’s. Originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland, Caroline, a graduate of University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, has been working at HBO in New York since January. She has been writing fiction for years. More of her stories at

Caroline McEvoy, left, Sarah Fearon

Comedy performer, writer and IAW&A Board member Sarah Fearon is taking up the ukulele, which she played and sang for the first time at the Salon. Her choices were “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer and the Irish folk ballad “The Fields of Athenry” to which the audience sang along. The fearless Sarah notes that the warm Salon audiences encourage members to try something new or “go out on a ledge.”

DSC08936.JPG Arianne Hutch

Arianne Hutch, an actor from Ireland, now living here and working in theater production, also appreciated the encouraging atmosphere. Making her salon debut with a piece from her one-woman-show-in-progress, High Heels Are Not My Friend, Arianne says that the group’s positive feedback gave her a confidence boost and she’ll be back with more.

2017-08-04 00.17.18.jpgMalachy McCourt, center, surrounded by the night’s presenters 

Malachy McCourt is one man you can’t keep down. After a brief absence from the salon, he came roaring back in great form with some jokes (Hear the one about the dyslexic atheist?), comments about the indignities of aging and his trademark smile and a song. Speaking for all of us, John Brennan called him a “joy and inspiration.”


DSC08932Three poets presented work in their distinct voices. John A. Brennan’s “The Smith” pictures the nightmare a blacksmith endures in the pursuit of his creations. “Early Morning” recalls time on the shores of Lough Ross, near his native village of Crossmaglen, where Turloch O’Neill met in secret with his loyal followers. Rev. Anoek van Praag, a Salon first timer, an accomplished and multi-lingual poet, read in Italian and English, about the beauty of a small Italian town and the cruelty of what happens behind closed doors. Her other poem, in French and English, spoke of the desire to let go of the past hurts and become Love. Bernadette Cullen shared a work-in progress evoking the gorgeous colors of “Cezanne’s Palette.”                                          John Brennan, at right,  photo by Guen Donohue.

Anoek van Praag, left, Bernadette Cullen 



In Guenevere Donohue’s closing piece about immigrants, she read a heart-breaking excerpt of Kenyan-born, Somali poet Warsan Shire’s “Home.”

It includes

No one would put their children in a boat

unless the water

was safer than the land.

Guen rendered The Pouges’ song “Thousands Are Sailing” in a plaintive style with Irish keening. John Kearns accompanied her on the guitar, just as  he had started the night.                                                Guenevere Donohue          

See you next time, Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm at The Cell.









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