Irish American Writers & Artists

December 27, 2017

12.19.17 IAW&A Salon: Bringing Gifts of Dance, Acting & Laughter to the Party

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:49 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

The IAWA Holiday Salon at The Cell lived up to its advance billing as a festive year-end party full of tremendous talent, an SRO crowd and seasonal cheer. Three dance performances, two short videos, mesmerizing acting, sweet Christmas tunes and a lot of laughter added up to an unforgettable night.

NYC actress Rebekah Madebach commanded the stage in “Flesh Wounds,” a comedic monologue written and directed by Dan Brown. As a “friend” of the bride at the wedding reception, she gives an unscheduled toast. The self-indulgent, and often inappropriate, speech becomes a journey towards spontaneous self-discovery for the uninvited speaker.

catseyepix-0591_Brown Rebekah Madebach

Next in playwright Jenifer Margaret Kelly’s darkly comic piece “Hailing Time,” the ever-amazing Rosina Fernhoff portrayed a Southern woman struggling against the vortex of suburban life, with its tightening gyre of missing socks, frozen smiles and unexpressed passion.

catseyepix-0608_preview Rosina .jpg Rosina Fernhoff

With lively music, song and dance, Maura Mulligan and company brought us a bit of the Celtic winter tradition known as “Wren Day.” The wren is considered a symbol of the old year in Celtic mythology and the holiday is still celebrated in some parts of Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Man. Fiddler Marie Reilly and whistle player Colm Butler joined singers Martin Daly on guitar and Pamela Jean Agaloos in presenting traditional Wren Day music together with Maura and her dancers Deirdre Batson, Siobhán McCourt, Silpa Sadhajun and Kim Tullach. If you’d like to join Maura’s weekly dance class, reach out to

catseyepix-0640_preview wren .jpgMaura Mulligan’s Wren Day 

Actor and comedy performer Sarah Fearon sent her alter ego “Snazzy Peabody.” A real estate legend in her own mind, Snazzy appears in a series of short films. Having already sold the Brooklyn Bridge, Snazzy is on to another NYC exclusive listing, this time she’s selling the Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Director and actress Shae D’Lyn introduced the segment and we’re only sorry that Sarah wasn’t able to be there to enjoy the laughs.

Sarah Fearon as Snazzy Peabody, left. Photo by Dan Brown. The real Sarah, upper right. Shae D’Lyn, lower right.

Bessie-award nominated Darrah Carr Dance returned to the Salon with the beginning stages of choreography for a new, full-length collaboration with musicians Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna premiering at the Irish Arts Center in 2018. Inspired by Lyn and Sanna’s sophomore album The Great Arc, the work blends traditional Irish step and contemporary modern dance, in the company’s trademark style of ModERIN. Company members Michelle Esch, Jonathan Matthews, Caitlin McNeill, Laura Neese and Alexandra Williamson thrilled the crowd with their ensemble work, and a solo by company member and TONY award winner Trent Kowalik (the original Billy in Broadway’s Billy Elliot) thrilled again.

Darrah Carr Dance.  Soloist Trent Kowalik 

In what’s becoming an IAWA holiday tradition, Mark William Butler invited cast members from his terrific show in development Ugly Christmas Sweater: The Musical to perform original songs. This time, Richard Butler and Kristine Louis Reynal treated us to “Christmas Is You,” accompanied by Will Buck on piano. Mark will have an Ugly Christmas Sweater performance in late January. We’ll post the details, and be sure to check here

Will Buck on piano.  Richard Butler, left, Kristine Louis Reynal, Mark Butler

Dublin playwright Derek Murphy excels at creating plays about very bad relationships and he’s delighted that Maria Deasy and John Keating brought “A Leg For Christmas” hilariously to life. In a hospital waiting room in Ireland, the two argue about traffic, tea, marmalade, and the bathroom, until the macabre reason for their presence, and relationship to one another is finally revealed, amid much laughter.

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Maria Deasy, John Keating.  Photo by Dan Brown.

IAWA VP Mary Pat Kelly showed a trailer for Shirah of Bethlehem, an animated Christmas musical that she’s writing with world-class collaborators, best-selling children’s book illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, award-winning television producer Carole Hart (of Sesame Street and Free to Be You and Me) and producer Margaret Murray. As a child, Mary Pat loved Nativity stories that added fictional characters, such as Amahl and the Night Visitors and The Little Drummer Boy. There were talking animals, but where, Mary Pat wondered, were the girls? That was her inspiration for the adorable Shirah, who leads the shepherds to the manger. More at

Mary Pat Kelly, Shirah on screen

catseyepix-0827_preview larryLarry Kirwan announced that 2018 would be his last year as President of Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. He thanked his fellow board members and IAWA members for their unwavering support – and we’ll have ample time to thank Larry for his leadership and inspiration. Saying that he had achieved most of his goals since taking the helm in June 2014, he noted that the organization was thriving. A believer in change and progress, Larry hopes that every member can aspire to join the board and become president. Larry is shown at right.

Later in the evening, Larry Kirwan performed a piece from his new solo show, “Ireland —A History in Song.” Larry went to Barbados to track down descendants of the Irish people whom Oliver Cromwell sent as slaves in 1649. One remarkable woman told him “They sent us here to kill us but we have thrived.” He integrated that conversation about the resilience of these descendants with Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and Black 47’s “Fire of Freedom.”

 break.jpgEnjoying the break

In his first Salon performance, Niall O’Leary demonstrated a few of his many talents, with a charming version of Shay Healy’s “I Am Allergic to Christmas,” followed by what he’s famous for: a thrilling traditional Irish dance. An All-Ireland and World Champion dancer, he founded the Irish Dance School that bears his name.

catseyepix-0813_preview niall 2Niall O’Leary

Malachy McCourt brought the Salon to a perfect close with a few words, covering among other things, the power of words. He thanked John Kearns, Salon producer and hard-working host. By popular request,  he ended with his signature song, “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go.” 

And we lassies and lads went to our after-party to continue the holiday cheer.

catseyepix-0842_preview sing along .jpgSinging along with Malachy McCourt

To our presenters, volunteers, members, friends and fans and the team at the cell, thank you for supporting the Salon and Happy New Year! 


JAN. 4:  IAWA Salon at Bar Thalia, 7pm

JAN. 14:  Darrah Carr Dance’s next performance during Stam-pede at Symphony Space, 3pm

JAN. 15:  IAWA Civil Rights Salon in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as part of Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival, The Cell. 7pm

JAN. 20:  Larry Kirwan’s Ireland – A History in Song, Noble Maritime Museum, Snug Harbor, Staten Island, 8 pm

JAN. 17 — 29:  Derek Murphy’s play Dyin’ For It, starring our own Maria Deasy and directed by John Keating. Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival, The Cell.


December 11, 2017

12.7.17 IAW&A Salon: We Start the Season with A Salon Rich in Variety & Storytelling

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:45 pm

By Karen Daly

Thanks to Brendan Costello and Maureen Hossbacher for hosting an early December IAW&A Salon that was rich with variety ranging from Irish-born storytellers, a literary scholar and a thrilling performance by Honor Molloy.  Plus, we enjoyed new songs from the wonderful Tara O’Grady, along with fiction and memoir and we marked the start of our holiday season.

brendan booth

Brendan Costello. Photo by Christopher Booth.

Playwright/poet Jim Cullinane’s story “Lizzie Molloy” depicts a teenager’s crush on a mature woman who seems to him to exude sexuality. The boys in the small Irish town watch the title character go to work at the glue factory, “her hair the color of a wind-blown meadow.” An enthusiastic new member who has written two books, Jim says that, like all stories, there’s a kernel of truth in “Lizzie Molloy.” More at

Jim Cullinane. Photo by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.  Maureen Hossbacher. Photo by Cat Dwyer.

Tara O’Grady joined us to celebrate the release of her 5th CD, Folk Songs: Songs About Real Folks, a collection of original songs in styles that include folk, gospel, rockabilly, swamp pop and swing. “Everybody’s got a story to tell,” says Tara, and tonight she gave us two of them. “Evening Temptations” is dedicated to Tara’s friend, Danish folk musician Mathilde Bondo (Tom Waits also wrote about her in his song “Tom Traubert’s Blues — Waltzing Matilda”). “Vidar the Viking” tells how Tara’s Dublin cousin Joanne met her Norwegian boyfriend Vidar. Tara fashioned that story into a proper old-fashioned Irish drinking song and we gladly sang along. Find out where Tara performs weekly, at

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Malachy McCourt, Tara O’Grady. Photo courtesy of Tara O’Grady.

We heard Jonathan Goldman, a Joyce scholar and literature professor at New York Institute of Technology, enthusiastically describe a new book he’s edited for the University Press of Florida, Joyce and the Law. Fifteen scholars contributed essays about the legal issues central to Joyce’s work and life. (He was litigious!) Jonathan is author of Modernism Is the Literature of Celebrity and author/editor of numerous academic works. We also hear he’s a musician.  For the Joycean on your Christmas list, a special price of $40 plus shipping  has been extended until December 15. Use this code  AU1117 and order here:




Jonathan Goldman.  Photo by Dana Cotton.

Playwright Honor Molloy (Crackskull Row) declared she was there to “share the new.” And she did with a powerful monologue from her new play Round Room. An actress named Maggie Dubs believes that suicide is the only solution to an unwanted pregnancy in the Ireland of the early 1940s. She’s up on the roof of the Gate Theater, preparing to jump. Honor says, “If you weren’t there, you’ll have to wait for the play to be produced to find out.”

Honor not only “shared the new,” she treated us to her much-loved evocation of Dublin’s open-air markets, circa Christmas 1966, “Sixpence The Stars” (“The Little Oranges”). “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the little oranges,” says a Moore Street Shawlie. And it wouldn’t be an IAWA holiday event without “Sixpence The Stars.”  Treat yourself ttps://

Honor Molly. Photo by Dana Cotton.

Tom Mahon had two stories to tell. He’s so proud that his daughter-in-law Jessica Cantlon is a Time Magazine Person of Year, The Silence Breakers. A cognitive scientist at the University of Rochester, as is Tom’s son, Bradford, she was an initiator of a lawsuit against the University for ignoring the sexual harassment by a professor in the Neuroscience department.

In Tom’s fiction story “I Voted,” a young immigrant talks about the first American Presidential election he was eligible to vote in. His candidate lost, and a short year later, his children’s health insurance has been cut, and his family’s food stamps slashed. Wondering what will happen next, he realizes that the president reminds him of the dictators of his former country.

Tom Mahon. Photo by Cat Dwyer. Karen Bermann. Photo by Dana Cotton.

After her Salon debut last month, Karen Bermann returned with a second excerpt, “Either I’ll Kill Myself Or I’ll Eat The Cookies,” from a work about her father, a postwar Jewish émigré who was born in Vienna in 1922. The text was accompanied by Karen’s drawings and watercolors. Karen teaches architecture in Rome during the first half of the year and returns to New York for the second half. A recent IAW&A member, she’ll be sad to miss our events while she’s away, and would love to be in touch.

Gerry Maguire, native of West Cavan, resident of Poughkeepsie told a funny autobiographical short story, set in 1960s rural Ireland. In “The Power of The Office” an elderly man sends a child on quest for a cure for his toothache. His cry for help is answered but not quite in the way he was expecting. Gerry’s work has appeared in the Leitrim Guardian magazine and other newspapers.


Gerry Maguire.  Photo by Dana Cotton.

Introduced by Brendan Costello as our “atheist godfather,” Malachy McCourt gave his unique version of the Nativity. He also told how as a poor child in Limerick, he desperately wanted a train set and was always disappointed. There’s a happy ending, as Lionel Trains gave him a gift, in a special presentation, 75 years later. So inspired by that story, the atheist sang “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” thus ending the night on a high note.

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Mark McCourt, Siobhan McCourt. Photo by Dana Cotton.

Don’t miss our Christmas Salon at the cell, Tuesday, 12/19 at 7pm.






December 1, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:24 pm

By Maureen Hossbacher

The first half of this salon at The Cell theatre featured a conversation between novelists Kathleen Hill (Still Waters in Niger and Who Occupies This House) and Mary Pat Kelly (Of Irish Blood and Galway Bay) to celebrate the publication of Hill’s new memoir, She Read to Us in the Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels. The conversation focused on her well-travelled and fascinating life and the novels that have shaped it.  Works by Willa Cather, Chinua Achebe, Henry James, George Bernanos and Proust illuminate memorable experiences, from Hill’s first understanding of death as a young girl, to her marriage and teaching career in Nigeria, her grappling with awareness of the poverty that surrounds her in post-war northern France, and the six-year project to read Proust aloud to her dear friend Diana Trilling whose eyesight is failing.

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Kathleen Hill.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

During the Q&A session that followed, audience member Honor Molloy spoke for many when she expressed her delight in this type of event that focuses on one writer’s work and process. Also thoroughly enjoying the evening were Maureen Kennedy and Kent Covey of the Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati. This was the third book launch by Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. this year, the first two promoting Mary Gordon’s and Malachy McCourt’s latest works (There Your Heart Lies and Death Need Not Be Fatal).

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Mary Pat Kelly, right, interviews Kathleen Hill.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

After an intermission for book signing and refreshments, host Mary Pat Kelly got the second half underway by introducing three first-time IAW&A presenters, starting with a lively reading by Myra Goldberg from an untitled work in progress, loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey and featuring a female traveller named Uli, who is working her way back from the war in Vietnam. Goldberg is a faculty colleague of Kathleen Hill’s at Sarah Lawrence College and author of the novel Rosalind (Zoland Books, 1996).

Myra Goldberg, left.   Rachel Aydt.  Photos by John Kearns.

Rachel Aydt read from her memoir now in the final stages of revision, entitled Latchkey, set against the backdrop of the New Age ‘80s in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The coming-of-age story is a love letter to the landscape, to the little brother she co-raised, and to her devoted single mother. Connecting with the salon’s opening theme of the indispensability of books in our lives, the excerpt included a mention of the blond folding bookshelf that moved with her from home to home in her youth. Aydt is an Assistant Professor at the New School and an accomplished freelance writer and editor.


Keyera Bowens, pictured at right, read two engrossing pieces, the first, “Allure,” a flash fiction about a woman traveling home, lulled by the noise on the bus. Thoughts of a troublesome lover she can’t, or won’t, let go are merged with glimpses of gentrification, of change that’s occurring whether residents realize it or not. The second piece, “Quicksand,” is a poem about an interracial relationship. A black woman describes the comfort as well as the awkwardness she feels when she is seen with her white boyfriend. She realizes the restrictions she puts on her relationship are imposed by society and she can only be free when she sheds the stereotypes and social constructs.  “Allure” is included in Bowens’ collection of stories Somewhere in America, which was the thesis for her MFA   degree at Sarah Lawrence. Her response to an audience question about her creative process — that it mainly is dependent on having to meet a deadline —  drew laughter and knowing nods from the writers in the crowd.  Photo by John Kearns.

Choreographer Darrah Carr and several members of her dance company  provided a grand finale by giving us a sample of a new, evening-length collaboration with musicians Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna that will premiere at the Irish Arts Center in 2018. Combining Modern and Irish dance in a unique style called ModERIN, the presentation began with each dancer first executing a solo movement in silence, then uniting in a dance to the haunting music of Lyn and Sanna, from their album “The Great Arc.”  We look forward to Darrah Carr Dance  returning to the IAW&A salon on December 19th to present additional new material, including a solo by TONY award winner Trent Kowalik, best known for playing the original Billy in Broadway’s “Billy Elliot.”

darrah dance.jpgDarrah Carr, left, and her troupe. Photo by Cat Dwyer.


Darrah Carr Dancers.  Photo by Darrah Carr.


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