Irish American Writers & Artists

May 20, 2018

5.15.18 IAW&A SALON: Varied, Vivid Artists Displaying Heart & Brain (literally!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 7:57 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Christopher Booth


The mid-May IAW&A Salon brought drama, poetry, memories and dance to vivid life at the Cell. Belfast artist Brian John Spencer, back in New York this month, stopped by to delight members of the crowd with his spot-on sketches.  And, we can  say for sure this was the first time the Salon has featured brain surgery!  (See below, Tom Mahon’s presentation.)42132681782_392ab323e8_z

Host John Kearns (above)  kicked it off with a blast from his past, a song he wrote and debuted in May 1985 at the Bothy Folk Club at Cavanaugh’s bar in West Philadelphia. “That Would Be Something” offers a list of serious/comic dreams and ideals that the narrator says he would kill himself to see — perhaps because they could never exist in this world. John will take part in the Year of the Irish Language Celebrationat the Irish Consulate on Wednesday, May 23. For info and to attend:




Maureen Hossbacher, left, with Sheila Walsh.  Nancy Oda.
Playwright Sheila Walsh performed with Maureen Hossbacher and Nancy Oda in  a scene from Sheila’s play Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors. Though the play deals with the realities of aging and loneliness and the hardship of caregivers, Sheila’s sharp writing and their assured performances gave it humorous spin.




Brad Mahon, left. Tom Mahon

Proud father Tom Mahon showed a video of his son Brad Mahon’s work in an operating room during brain surgery. Brad, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Rochester, works on ‘mapping the brain’ and in this case, helped the surgeon determine where to cut. That the patient involved was a young musician made the successful outcome extra meaningful to our group.



Sarah Street, left.  Gina Costigan 

Derek Murphy showcased a short play, “Two Women on a Fence” from a longer one he’s currently developing, The Love Parts.  Actors Gina Costigan and Sarah Street play two young mothers at school pick-up who shock and disturb each other with tales of infidelity, real and imagined. One of them reveals a long held secret that will change their relationship forever. Derek is thrilled with how perfectly Gina and Sarah captured the humor and pathos of his work.   You have the chance to see the same short play at the Lower East Side Festival, Sunday, May 27th at Theatre For The New City at 7:30pm.  It’s a free event and a great kick off to the summer.


We were happy to welcome Salon newcomer Niall Power, (above)  a poet and writer, and former CUNY writing student of Brendan Costello’s, Niall read selections from his book Fall Risk, and new poems from his work in progress. Niall’s parents are Irish-born, and one poem recalls summer visits to his grandparents there, framed by his memory of candy commercials. Find his book here


Rosina Fernhoff, left.  Maria Deasy

Rosina Fernhoff performed a fiery monologue from Donald Margulies’ play Collected Stories, portraying a painful ending of a close friendship. In the scene, a celebrated writer, perfectly captured by Rosina, excoriates her protégé,  played by Maria Deasy,  for stealing her secrets and publishing the writer’s stories under her own name.


Philadelphian Tim Fitts  (above) teaches Creative Writing at the Curtis Institute and he persisted through traffic and torrential rain to get here tonight. We’re glad he did.  Tim read “Dinner at Garofalo’s”  from his new collection of short stories, Go Home and Cry for Yourselves, a series of stories about a fictional band set in Gainesville, Florida, in the early 1990s.



Marie Reilly, left.  Maura Mulligan

Celebrating the anniversary of her arrival in America, Maura Mulligan recreated an unforgettable moment from her 1958 farewell party in rural Mayo that ended with a traditional step dance.  Maura told the story, and performed the dance, accompanied by fiddler Marie Reilly.  Maura is also celebrating the five year anniversary of the launch of her memoir, Call of the Lark Look for Marie’s music, including her latest CD Road to Glannagh, “one of the delights of the world of traditional Irish music,” at



Poet Marcia Loughran (above) loves the Salon as a forum to try out her newest work on the audience as she did tonight with three poems that show her wit and sensitivity. They were “Holiday Ecstasy,”  “Fifth Grade English Teacher” and  “A Landlord’s Lament Upon Being Bitten By the Tenant’s Cat.”



Violinist and alt-pop artist Adrianna Mateo (above)  has been busy since her last Salon appearance: she opened solo for Alicia Keys at the Ritz, met music industry legend Clive Davis, shot with photographer Shervin Lainez – whose larger-than-life work is currently on giant Times Square billboards.  Noting that she’s taking a new direction with her music, Adrianna closed the Salon by performing two original songs including “Skin Hunger.”



Brian John Spencer with two of his subjects.

See you next time at St. Patrick’s Pub, Tuesday, June 6, 7 pm.


May 12, 2018

5.1.18 IAW&A Salon: Feisty Night of Storytelling and Song

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:47 pm

By Jenifer Margaret Kelly

On a hot and steamy first of May evening, the Irish American Writers and Artists met for the fourth time at our newest venue for our first Tuesday salon: St. Patrick’s Bar and Grill on West 46th.


Our host for the night, actor, writer and man about town, Tom Mahon began with a penetrating dramatic short story called “Rain,” a first person narrative echoing a Jack London style rugged adventure. “Rain” is the story of a miner in the Yukon, who eventually sells his claim to Guggenheim and leaves his dreams of finding gold behind him. Rain is a riveting short narrative where we learn of the abuse, hatreds and envies that arose between the miners. This story brought us into a feisty evening of Irish story telling and singing.  Tom, right.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.


Tom was followed by our beloved poet and spokesperson of the West Village, Gordon Gilbert who enchanted us once again with two monologues from his collection: Tales from the Old Folks Home, a wonderful tongue in cheek view of what really happens to those of getting up in years or having to place loved ones in what we hope is wonderful care. Look to hear the full story of Monologues from the Old Folks Home at the of June at the Cornelia Street Café in the West Village. Details coming soon. Gordon’s honey toned voice belies the dark inner belly center of a sweet “Old Folks Home” Where is this home? We don’t really know, but if you see it pop up on Google or Yelp, make sure you check out the reviews before signing over your fortune, or hear “the rest of the story” when Gordon presents the full-length piece next month.  Gordon, above.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

thomNext up, Thom Molyneaux, a salon regular as well as director, playwright, actor, took the opportunity to honor, inspire and encourage those of us who have chose the writer’s life. He began with a reference to a source of his own writing inspiration, riding the A train to and from Harlem. This led him to share with us dramatic readings from two playwrights, about writing, a brilliant selection of dialogue from the Faith Healer by Brian Friel, and a specific speech about writing from Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. It was an inspirational moment of theatre and passion for standing up for truth.  Tom, at left, in a photo by Cat Dwyer.JC and TM.jpg

Jim Cullinane, left,  reading with Tom Mahon.

Keeping with the dramatic theme, next up was James Cullinane, a playwright and a somewhat new presenter. James gave us a teaser of an introduction to a hilarious yet seemingly personal play in progress. A short scene between best friends, two men of a “certain age”, one of whom is a self-professed womanizer needing advice about changing his ways, while his best friend is humorously both unsympathetic and oblivious to his plight. The scene was presented masterfully by the author himself and Tom Mahon. The rapid-fire over-lapping dialogue kept the audience in fits of laughter. Good comedy is always based on some kind of recognition in the characters presented, which Jim did to great effect. It is always great to see “work in progress” at the salon, as that was one of the founding members goals, to have a place for artist to test out new work, get feedback and keep on creating. Many novels, plays and shows have come out of our IAW&A. We can’t wait to here the next episode, Jim!



The next presenter, much to our delight, was Gillian McCourt, granddaughter of our spiritual Godfather and Salon founder, Malachy McCourt. This was Gillian’s first time presenting and she took the stage like she was born to it. She gifted all of us who were there with a delightful original song, called “Ordinary Birds”. She accompanied herself on the ukulele and sang in the most angelic voice about a deep and stirring matter. “Ordinary Birds” is a song of inspiration and hope about ordinary life and beauty. We so loved your presence, Gillian, and hope we get to see you again!   Gillian, at left.  Photo by Maureen Hossbacher.



The first half was completed with the velvet tones of singer and actor, Jack DiMonte with a soul felt rendition of the song, “Practical Arrangement” from the musical, “The Last Ship” by Sting. The song is a marriage proposal from an older man to a much younger woman who is in need of support and shelter.  Instead of offering the romance of a lifetime he suggests they enter into “a simple rearrangement” that will benefit them both.

Jack DiMonte, left.  John Kearns.  Photos by Cat Dwyer.

After a lively act break of discussion, both political and non-political, we were led into the second act by our usual host, John Kearns. John presented two pieces inspired by his trip to India in 2016.  The first was a brand-new poem about connecting and taking photos with groups of Muslims at the Jama Masjid mosque in Old Delhi.  It’s entitled, “Masjid Jahan Numa (World Reflecting Mosque) November 2016.”  The second was a year-old comical song about riding around Delhi in a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw or tuk tuk, called “Take a Trip in a Tuk Tuk.” which soon led the audience to sing a long and provided a much needed humorous relief.


Eoin Glackin was our next presenter, an amazing singer/song-writer from Dublin. Eoin led of with a poem he was inspired to read because of Gillian’s debut. Then he sang a song entitled “Barabbas Walk Free.” He has a bluesy Dylanesque style of pure magic, a mixture of wit and deep emotion. His website is, where you can connect to him on his other platforms and see where to catch him next as well as hear his wonderful voice and music.


Eoin was followed by Kathleen Vaughan,  an IAWA regular. She read a piece from her upcoming book Raised By Nuns & Drunks the selection was about “flying dreams” that lifted her from the dark days of childhood, comforting her during her stay at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home.  She always went to bed feeling abandoned and as if she was nobody’s child, but after her wonderful “flying dreams” she was able to feel powerful and like she was a child of the sky, and of course a child of God.  All she had to do was lift up her arms and point to the sky and she was lifted up and I was off towards the gates and she often wondered whether they were the orphanage gates or heaven’s gates, that she was flying through.  Kate, at right.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.



Brian Fleming entertained us with an original song of his called “Temple Bar Me Arse.” Brian is also a very fine drummer and has played on some 50 albums. He is also named in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2001 as one of the creators of the biggest drum in the world. He is the author and performer of three one man theatre shows which have enjoyed success in New York and back at home in Ireland, where Brian shares his time between Co Clare and Dublin, where he creates magic with Dublin’s Culture Connects. Find him at

Brian, left.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.


M.C. Neuda.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

M.C.Neuda left us on the edge or seats with an “almost crime” piece of flash fiction entitled “In Liffey’s Bar,” where getting-to-know-you in a bar has unexpected consequences, and a piece of micro-fiction called “Fatal Day,” based on a true event and written in memory of Fire Battalion Chief Michael J. Fahy. As always M.C.’s writing and fiction are delivered with style and an edginess that leaves us craving more! Can’t wait to hear what her next story is!!


Malachy McCourt closes the show.  Photo by Gordon Gilbert.

We were led back out into the suddenly summer New York City with a wonderful chat by our dear Malachy McCourt, followed by a song whose title escapes me now, but sure it was grand to end the night with us all singing together again

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


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