By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
Host John Kearns kicked off another sensational IAW&A Salon at The Cell by reminding everyone to get their tickets for our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Benefit and Cocktail Party honoring the legendary writer Pete Hamill, on Monday, October 20, 2014. Visit http://i-am-wa.org/oneill-award-benefit/this-years-honoree/ to purchase. And spread the word!
Dublin born Peadar Hickey, who plays with The Young Wolftones and teaches traditional guitar at the Irish Arts Center started the music with two great Scottish tunes in recognition of the Independence Vote taking place this week. They were “The Roses of Prince Charlie” and “Brave Caledonia.” You can also see Peadar in the duo Peadar and Pio. Find their events here.
Journalist and playwright Pat Fenton who has been interviewing his great friend, Pete Hamill, for a forthcoming article in The Irish Echo, talked up our O’Neill Benefit as one of the great literary gatherings of the year. Pat read from Breslin, his one-man play about another New York journalism legend, Jimmy Breslin. Pat wants to show aspects of Breslin that few know about. He’s “a lot more sensitive than readers of his columns may think, and yeah, he is very spiritual and attended the Catholic Church most of his life. And he has a sense of humor. And yes, he’s been very generous to me in my own writing career.”
Pat adds his usual disclaimer on all things Breslin: “If you don’t like something he wrote, don’t revisit it with me, please. As Breslin would simply say “GOODBYE.”
Tom Phelan read a selection from his first novel In the Season of the Daisies, which centers on the IRA’s murder of a child and the devastating effects on the survivors. Tom had just turned fifty when In the Season of the Daisies was accepted for publication in Dublin, and Books Ireland’s reviewer later wrote, “The most obvious question posed by a novelistic debut with as much resounding vigour as this is: Where has Mr. Phelan been?” The novel received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, indicating a book of unusual merit and interest, and was chosen for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers series. Tom, a native of Mountmellick, Co. Laois, is also the author of Iscariot, Derrycloney, The Canal Bridge, Nailer, and the upcoming Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told. More information at www.tomphelan.net and www.facebook.com/tomphelannovels.
Board member and editor of the hit “The IAW&A Weekly” Mark Butler has spearheaded our outreach to the library community and found a kindred group called Urban Librarians Unite (ULU). They are an independent non-profit group committed to ensuring access to libraries for all New Yorkers.
Mark introduced ULU board member Lauren Comito who described some initiatives, which include setting up mini-libraries in neighborhoods damaged by the recent hurricanes, a volunteer library brigade and 24 Read-Ins to encourage reading. Their efforts are imaginative, fun, and done-on-a shoestring. We’ll be exploring how we can work with and help them. Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
Christy Jones has been sharing pieces of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title) in which he details his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater in New York. Tonight he read a tender piece about a priest back home, Father Moynihan. Says Christy: “He was such a gentle man, a real man, a holy man. I never remember a word of anger from him. He was so complete as a person. He was content with his bicycle. He never complained about it…I still remember the last time … in the hospital. You could not help believe that he was saved.”
Salon producer John Kearns read the opening from “Displacement,” a short story set in 1940s Brooklyn. An obsequious witness tells detectives how his friend started a fight with a stranger who had come into their waterfront dive wearing a porkpie hat with a red feather. Unbeknownst to the witness, the detectives were conducting a murder investigation. We know John was not around the 1940s Brooklyn waterfront, but he sure sounded like it tonight.
More, “Yes.’ Well-known trad musician Don Meade played some Scottish tunes in honor of the “Yes” campaign and gave historical background for each. They were a pipe march from World War I, “King George V’s Army”, and on the mouthorgan “Hector, the Hero”, a lament for a Scottish general named Hector MacDonald. Don runs the monthly Irish traditional music concerts at Glucksman Ireland House/NYU and sessions every Monday at the Landmark Tavern. You can find his schedule at blarneystar.com
Storyteller and musician Russell Patrick Brown shared selections from his upcoming site-specific production at Jefferson Market Library on September 27 at 8pm. Russell has written and is directing a cast of dancers, singers, musicians and storytellers in the Mercy of Trees, which is presented as part of Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival. Come out and support this unique talent. The event is free, reservations suggested: http://1stirish.org/?post_type=show&p=1051.
More information: http://www.russellpatrickbrown.com/mercy-of-trees
Russell Patrick Brown
The Smarty Girl herself Honor Molloy presented “I Broke In,” a loving tribute to her favorite Dublin neighbor–the Irish American poetess, and Honor’s babysitter, Claire McAllister. Then Honor introduced McAllister’s daughter, Wonderly White, who talked vividly about her mother and read several short poems.
Honor Molloy and Wonderly White
Sean Carlson was greeted by a great round of applause for his Irish Times essay, “The reach of a single village,” receiving a bronze prize from the Society of American Travel Writers.
Again reading from his yet-untitled family memoir of immigration, Sean introduced two new characters, Maureen and Bridie May– the oldest daughters in an Irish family of sixteen children — and the beginning of their path to the convent. Responding to the touching and humorous nature of this chapter, one Salon attendee tweeted: “I think the world needs more stories about these beautiful people you shared with us last night.” To learn more or join his email list, please visit www.seancarlson.net.
John Anthony Brennan, in his second Salon presentation, read from his new book, Don’t Die With Regrets. A native of Crossmaglen, a small, tough town in County Armagh, John has visited most of the sacred sites in this world and is convinced that a common thread connects them. The book represents his life’s journey and was written to inspire the reader. And inspire he did tonight with a section called “Back When.” While living in London in the late sixties, John was fortunate to meet many of his favorite musicians, some of whom have sadly, departed from this mortal coil. In “Back When” he tells that story in one thousand words. More about John at http://johnabrennanauthor.com/ or at the blog, Thewildgeese.com.
John Anthony Brennan
Guenevere Donohue sang the Irish folk song, “Molly Ban” in her unique hypnotic story-telling style. In this tragic song, a man shoots mistakenly shoots his love:
Her white apron wrapped around her
He took her for a swan
But a hush and a sigh
‘Twas his own Molly Ban
Says Guen, “a swan song to remember.”
Ryan Winter Cahill
We went out on high note as Ryan Winter Cahill ended the Salon with two short, amusing songs. First was the energetic, childlike “Sweet Zoo,” by Jeffrey D. Harris, in which “someone” (not revealed until the song’s close) recounts a most interesting dream. She ended with the poignant, ironic “Virtue” by Michael John LaChiusa from his song cycle “Marlene Dietrich’s ABC”, based on a dictionary of wisdom written by the classic film star.
See you next time at Bar Thalia, on Wednesday, October 1 at 7pm. And should you be tweeting, or talking about us on other social media, please use our hashtag #iawasalon!