Irish American Writers & Artists

October 30, 2017

10.26.17 IAWA Salon: High-Energy Night Goes from Hip Hop to Broadway and to Memory, Ghosts & Love Stories

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:38 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

The house was packed for the late-October Salon at the Cell, and full of the energy and excitement generated by our O’Neill Award earlier in the month. One of our presenters  appreciated  “an especially warm and loving crowd.”  Salon producer John Kearns hosted an eclectic night, while Belfast artist Brian John  Spencer sketched remarkable portraits. The music ranged from hip hop to Broadway, and the range of theater, memoir and fiction pieces included love stories, ghosts, a vampire and some folks with murderous intent.

Journalist/playwright Pat Fenton read “The Ghosts of Coney Island,” a memory piece about his father who came from from Galway, Ireland and went to Coney Island every winter to be near the sea. Pat wanted to capture the haunting quality of Coney Island in the dead of winter. And he did, with this tender memorial. In January, Pat’s play Stoopdreamer will have a three day run in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, near Farrell’s Bar where the play takes place. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

fenton .jpgPat Fenton

New York actress Tara Steinberg wowed the crowd performing “Six Minutes to Life,” a monologue set to music that captures the colors and textures of emotion throughout the lifespan. Rockaway Beach resident Dan Brown wrote and directed the piece.

tara .jpgTara Steinberg

Pat Lavin shared the “coming of age” love story of her daughter and her boyfriend who have neurological issues. While visiting Pat’s tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side, they demand their right to “sleep” together.” And Pat had a clever accommodation. In her funny and tender telling, she showed how through loving each other, the couple learn to love and accept themselves. Pat, a writer, playwright and poet, is a certified hypnotherapist and life coach who helps artists deal with stress and creative access.

lavin Pat Lavin

Maura Mulligan tapped two excellent actors, Jack DiMonte and Dee Nolan for scenes from her play in progress, Cursed, set around the 2016 election. Jack’s character is dutifully leading a meeting at the United Federation of Teachers when a ghost appears and persuades him to mix a magical potion to stop Trump from winning. Instead, the character drinks the poitín intended for the potion and we know how the election went. Maura, author of the memoir Call of the Lark, plans more mayhem ahead when The President gets a visitor “from beyond the veil.”

Maura Mulligan, left. Jack DiMonte, Dee Nolan

Rory K, the charismatic young hip hop artist, switched up the night’s tempo with his lively performance of two songs. In Rory’s track, “Suitcase,” a man is leaving a broken home in Ireland for a new life in New York City. With his remix of Ed Sheeran’s smash hit “Shape of You,” he had ‘em dancing.

Two views of Rory K

Two old friends gleefully share lots, one might say too much, information, as one patient husband (Tom Mahon) waits in the background. Maureen Hossbacher and Sheila Walsh are delightful as the friends in “How Sam Touched The Glass.” Sheila’s one-act play, part of her Evening of 8 One-Acts, tells of a night with playwright Sam Shepard.

sheila 's .jpgSheila Walsh, Maureen Hossbacher, Tom Mahon

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. gamely got into the Halloween spirit in costume and in content. Noting, “even vampires write poems,” he read a short poem in the person of a vampire residing in New Orleans. Gordon read a short story that’s to be included in a novel about an East Village vampire who has an unusual relationship with a young woman.

gordon .jpgGilbert Gordon, Jr.

Shaun Coen, an award-winning playwright, columnist and feature writer, had a great Salon debut reading from his first novel, The Pot O ‘Gold Murder. A comical thriller set in the tight-knit Irish enclave of Woodlawn, The Bronx, it features a hard-living woman detective who investigates the murder of a popular Irish bartender with whom she once had an affair. Shaun thinks it may be the only novel set in Woodlawn. Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver says “A great thriller! Coen brings into vivid focus not only his characters but also an entire neighborhood. You’ll read this in one sitting— guaranteed!”

shaun .jpgShaun Coen

In Derek Murphy’s wickedly funny play “Dyin’ For It,” the Kelly women, played by Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan and Aoife Williamson, plan to speed up the death of their evil patriarch. They practice the art of murder on an innocent head of cabbage. As they head upstairs, the playwright suggests that events will not go as planned for these women.

derek's .jpgleft,  Aiofe Williamson, Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan

We’ve seen Brandon Grimes in Mark Butler’s Ugly Christmas Sweater, The Musical and tonight we heard Brandon introduce his own original composition. Accompanied on piano by Michael Starr, the striking baritone  also sang “The Impossible Dream,” dedicating it to all the artists. A fine way to end a night full of such artistic variety.

brandon .jpgBrandon Grimes at the mic

Catch the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, November 2 at 7 p.m.



October 10, 2017

10.5.17 IAW&A Salon: Thrilling Night, Full of Passion, Compassion & Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:09 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A grateful audience member described the early October IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia as: “a thrilling evening of artistry, passion, jollity and excitement. It was ALIVE! Inclusive! Welcoming!”

We agree wholeheartedly. It was the perfect mix of talents and genres, with outstanding work by members and two special guests, one an artist/musician from China, who brought his film crew; the other a charismatic jazz singer who brought her back-up dancers.

Poet and author John Brennan read poems inspired by his travels: “Valleys and Dust” about the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and “Canyons and Dust” which recounts his time in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Next came his gorgeous tribute to Yeats “The Night Moths,” read in John’s fine Armagh voice.

John Brennan, left.  Thom Molyneaux

Salon regular Thom Molyneaux read from the great Irish playwright John B. Keane’s Letters of a Country Postman. In a charming Irish accent, Thom portrayed the postman writing to his friend Hammish Mac Shamus to describe the powerful aphrodisiac qualities of wearing a uniform. “You could be a film star and escape without notice but pull on a postman’s uniform and you were a target for every sex-starved damsel in the district.”

Salongoers paid rapt attention to Kathleen Vaughan’s story “Christmas Daddy” from her memoir-in-progress. Born in County Cork, Kate lost her mother at the tender age of 4 and landed in a Catholic orphanage in the Bronx. Hence, the book’s title, Raised by Nuns and Drunks.

catseyepix-0761 kate v Kate Vaughn

Versatile singer/songwriter Aiesha Dukes sang two songs, “Need You” and an a cappella “Lush Life,” accompanied by the dancers from her band, Miss Dukes Music, which she formed this year. Aiesha has been performing in the well reviewed Me The People: The Trump America Musical. Look for Miss Dukes Music on Facebook and at

catseyepix-0074_preview Dukes 2 Aeisha Dukes

Our guest Zhenggeng Ding, visiting from Sichuan Province, China is a poet, calligrapher, painter and accordion player. He played a virtuoso solo and through the kind translation of Daisy Kearns,explained that his composition was a tribute to a late friend, who will always be in his heart.

catseyepix-0103_preview zing
Zhenggeng Ding, playing the accordion.
catseyepix-0148_preview daisy
Daisy Kearns, Zhenggeng Ding.

In Tom Mahon’s story called “Mistaken,” a young boy took a five-dollar bill from under his grandfather’s Christmas tree. When they got home, his father beat him with his belt to curb his son’s childish impulses, damaging the bright, vivacious boy. “Something happened to my brother that night,” his older sister says.  “Something broke inside him, and stayed broken.” Told with Tom’s usual verve.

catseyepix-0155_preview tomTom Mahon

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a newly polished episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds. In it, Seamus Logan, now a Philadelphia construction magnate, looks back on an afternoon spent near Bunowen, County Mayo with his beloved Mary. They had run away from the eyes of their small town to secluded cliffs by the beach. When the young couple’s passion had threatened to take things too far, Seamus stopped them. The older Seamus wonders if he had made the right decision and if Mary had been disappointed in him.

John Kearns, left.  Brent Shearer

Agent provocateur Brent Shearer read a satire about having to kick the Irish members out of the IAW&A. Despite giving what he calls “another superlative performance,” he was surprised that nobody got his joke about dumping ashes in the municipal pool in his ancestral town of Kilcrohane.

catseyepix-0167_preview MM

Samhain, the Celtic new year, and forerunner of Halloween is coming up October 31st, Maura Mulligan, pictured at left, reminded us. It’s “the time of year when the earth rests” and the thin veil between this world and the “other world” allows easy passage between them. Maura read an account of a Samhain celebration when ghosts seemed to be out to get her, and invited Salon guests to a Samhain celebration on October 31, with a theme of Immigration. If you are interested in attending and sharing a story about an immigrant who deserves to be remembered for his/her contribution to America, (and also contribute to a worthy cause, The Dwelling Place of New York), contact for details and start planning your costume.

In a powerful dramatic selection from To The Sea, a solo performance she’s developing, Guenevere Donohue told the story of her first trip to the beach. Followed by her rendition of the Kurt Weill song Pirate Jenny, Guen turned in a brilliant performance.

catseyepix-0179_preview guen 2

Guenevere Donohue

Malachy McCourt ended the night in top form. Malachy always takes the time to thank John Kearns for his work organizing and hosting this terrific evening. And he encourages members and guests in their own work. “You are all artists. Not aspiring.”Tonight Malachy was simply on fire arguing about the horror of guns and violence in this country. Reminding us “the word is more powerful than the gun,” he sang “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

catseyepix-0189_preview malachy.jpg
Malachy McCourt
catseyepix-0208_preview gang.jpgMany of the presenters, at the end of the night.

catseyepix-0210_preview friends.jpg

REMINDER: The next Salon at The Cell will be on Thursday, October 26 at 7 pm



Create a free website or blog at