Irish American Writers & Artists

September 22, 2015

Jubilant 100th IAW&A Salon 9/15: Celebrating Our First Four Years

Filed under: dance,Essay,Film,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized,Visual Arts — by scripts2013 @ 8:56 pm

”…a fine green thread binds us together…” Colin Broderick

By John Kearns and Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

We had much to celebrate at the Cell Theatre on September 15. Our 100th Manhattan Salon featured readings and performances of works developed over the Salon’s first four years and a retrospective of IAW&A Salon photographs by Cathleen Dwyer.


Audience enjoying Cat Dwyer’s photos

annaDeputy Irish Consul General, Anna McGillicuddy

The Consulate General of Ireland/New York, represented by Anna McGillicuddy, Deputy Head of Mission, congratulated IAW&A on the occasion. Origin Theatre Company’s Artistic Director George C. Heslin welcomed the IAW&A Salon to its prestigious 1st Irish Theatre Festival this year.

georgeGeorge C. Heslin

And Salon founder Malachy McCourt returned after a brief absence this summer. Malachy’s presence and performance meant a lot to everyone in the SRO house, as he truly is our guiding spirit.


Malachy McCourt


John Kearns

IAW&A Treasurer John Kearns produced and hosted the 100th Salon as a curated program of fiction, memoir, poetry, music, dance, visual and performance arts. Cathleen Dwyer, special events, portrait and urban landscape photographer, has taken photographs at the Salon since the early days. Tonight we enjoyed a slideshow of over 100 striking pictures from the first four years. Cat also photographs concerts and does headshots for performers. She is always available for hire and offers discounts to IAW&A members. To purchase prints and see more of her work, go to

sarahSarah Fearon

Sarah Fearon has shared her comedy routines with us since the beginning of the IAW&A Salon. Her play, “Ted Talks NYC” was developed from her comedy and won first prize at the Short Play Festival at the Players Theatre this summer. From tonight’s sample we can see why: Sarah was fiery, funny and profound.

tomTom Mahon

Frequent Salon reader Tom Mahon has presented fiction, poetry, film and even a children’s book. He credits the Salon with helping him complete his novel. “Unforgivable,” a tragic story with a shocking ending, is a vignette from his collection Tomorrow Never Came. Tom told it with his usual dramatic force.

mpkMary Pat Kelly

Mary Pat Kelly is author of the best-selling novel Galway Bay, and award winning documentary filmmaker. She charmingly described her Chicago Irish roots and her research for her latest novel, Of Irish Blood, excerpts of which she had debuted at salons.

colinColin Broderick

Author and filmmaker Colin Broderick delivered a knockout piece about his development as a writer. He has written two memoirs, Orangutan about his first twenty years in New York City and That’s That about his early life in Northern Ireland. He is now editing the collection The Writing Irish of New York.

honorHonor Molloy

Speaking of knockout pieces, Honor Molloy described her childhood journey from Dublin to America and finding encouragement for her work in NY’s Irish American community. Author of Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage, playwright, instructor, Honor has been a regular contributor since the start of the IAW&A Salon.

cathyCathy Maguire

Cathy Maguire originally from Dundalk, Co. Louth, showcased her talents as a singer/ songwriter. Her beautiful country song “Portrait” looks at an old wedding picture and wonders how the couple’s life turned out. In addition to her country album made in Nashville, her Ireland in Song explores the top ten most famous Irish ballads. Guitar virtuoso, Irish born Damien Kelly accompanied Cathy and we hope to hear more of his work. Find him at


Damien Kelly and Cathy Maguire 


Backstage at the Cell….


Karen Daly, with Malachy on the laptop screen

aud    Full house enjoying Salon 1oo


Mary Lou Quinlan

At a fall 2011 Salon, Mary Lou Quinlan read her earliest work on The God Box, a loving tribute to her late mother. She turned that book into a New York Times bestseller, website and mobile app. And with theater veteran, Martha Wollner, a one woman play “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” Performances around the US, Ireland and at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 have raised over $300,000 for charities. Brava, Mary Lou!

meg  Megan O’Donnell

Poet Megan O’Donnell describes her poems as “…attempts to deal with the complexities of gender, race, violence, and survival through the lens of poetry.” They were “Letter to a Young Man,” “ Survival Guide,” “Window Shopping,” “Make Waves,” and a haiku “When. ” The multitalented Megan is award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction and lyricist for the jam band, Sofus.


Maura Mulligan and Patty Furlong

In another example of work debuted at a Salon, Maura Mulligan performed sean nos stepdancing for the first time at a Bar Thalia earlier this year. Just a few months later, in August, she won third-place medal in the All-Ireland sean nos competition in the Fleadh Cheoil in Sligo. Trad musician Patty Furlong accompanied Maura on the button-accordion. Patty is a winner of All-Ireland titles and founding member of the world famous Cherish the Ladies traditional music group.


Mary Lannon

More congratulations to Mary Lannon.  Her story, “Frank N. Stein,” first presented at a Salon became her first publication in The story tells of a young woman’s quest to leave an imagined monster behind her, for those imaginary monsters can the hardest to shake!


Maxine Linehan

“Fiercely talented “ (NY Times) Maxine Linehan introduced her song “I Think of You” by Andrew Koss and Bob Stillman at a Salon. The song, about the trials and tribulations of life in NYC is now a standard part of her repertoire. Accompanied on piano by her husband Andrew Koss, Maxine also performed a tender rendition of U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.”   You can catch her solo show on October 17 at


Composer and accompanist, Andrew Koss


Larry Kirwan

Larry Kirwan, IAW&A President, premiered a beautiful new song, “Floating My Way Back to You”, written about his great grandfather, a Wexford sea captain, whose ship went down off Cornwall in 1898.

malMalachy McCourt

And it was only fitting that the great Malachy McCourt, author and raconteur brought the 100th Salon celebration to a close with story and song. Recently sidelined with a leg injury, Malachy, as Tom Mahon notes, was “…in rare form last night after escaping his current confinement.”

Numerous other artists credit the IAW&A Salon with encouraging and offering a supportive environment to present their work and fostering a sense of community. Some of them include John Brennan, John Cappelletti, Kathleen Donohoe, Kathleen Frazier, John Kearns, Maura Knowles, Margaret McCarthy, and Vivian O’Shaughnessy.

On the occasion of 100th IAW&A Salon, may we take this space to thank all IAW&A members and Salon goers and volunteers for their participation, encouragement and support. Special thanks to the hardworking staff at The Cell Theatre. More about IAW&A Salons at

Please note the next Salon is WEDNESDAY, 10/7 at 7pm at Bar Thalia.

And get your tickets now for our big annual bash. For fast and easy ticket purchases:

2015 Eugene O’Neill Award Honoring Patricia Harty of Irish America Magazine

Monday, October 19, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The Manhattan Club, Upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s, New York, NY


May 11, 2015

IAW&A Salon 5-5-15: Members Debut New Songs, Stories, Plays and Talents

Filed under: dance,Events,Film,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 4:22 am

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

The early May Salon at Bar Thalia was a merry and mellow affair, with members introducing brand new compositions, fictional works, and theater pieces. We were also introduced to a centuries’ old fiddle tune and Irish dance form.


DJ Sharp

Actor and writer, DJ Sharp started off the proceedings with a reading from his screenplay.


Thom Molyneaux

Playwright Thom Molyneaux read from his new play Miller Kazan HUAC… and Marilyn Monroe that tells the story of the creative partnership of Elia Kazan and Arthur Miller. That partnership was destroyed when Kazan “named names ” for the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950’s and they confronted each other, not directly, but via their art — Miller striking first with The Crucible; Kazan hitting back with On The Waterfront. Thom will be off soon for the world premiere of his play White Ash Falling 9/11 at the Detroit Repertory Theatre, the oldest professional theatre in Michigan.


Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher gave a delightful reading from her untitled novel-in-progress. Set in a small parish in the midlands of Ireland, this section introduces two of the main characters, Fr. Thomas Doyle, a local priest, and his childhood friend, Desmond Long, a psychiatrist returned to his home town after years abroad. The priest’s housekeeper, Maude, steals the scene, as she contrives a subtle revenge against her employer, the supercilious, alcoholic pastor of St. Fintan’s.


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon’s short, dramatic story was about a black family who move into a white neighborhood, and whose young son is beaten for no reason. His parents refuse to allow anything to stop them from loving and supporting their children. After years of working steadily, the black kids go to college on scholarships and make something of themselves, while the white family next door slide deeper into the cesspools of pride and prejudice.


Memoirist and dancer, Maura Mulligan, accompanied by fiddler, Marie Reilly introduced us to Sean Nós dancing – the oldest style of dancing in Ireland. Long before Set, Céilí or the formal Step dancing, Sean Nós was popular all over Ireland. Like the Irish language, the form was stamped out and only survived in the very far corners of the country, the Gaeltacht, the Irish speaking areas. Often danced on half doors and on tabletops, this loose and free style form of dance is now enjoying a huge revival. There are no specific steps and so individual dancer must improvise. An accomplished step dancer and céilí teacher, this was Maura’s debut as a Sean Nós dancer. Check her website: Follow her memoir, Call of the Lark on Facebook: Follow Call of the Lark on Facebook


Marie Reilly and Maurs Mulligan

Marie Reilly followed with a lively march tune known as “Conmachne” which she told us is untitled in the manuscript dated 1846 of Thomas Kieran, a nineteenth century fiddle master from Drumlish, Co. Longford. Marie told the fascinating story of the tune’s discovery. In 1962 Pierce Butler, a fiddle player and carpenter happened to be working on the removal of a thatched roof and found the manuscript hidden in the thatch. It seemed to be a manuscript Thomas Kiernan used in teaching in the period 1844-1846. Kiernan taught widely, travelling on foot from house to house, lodging at night in the houses where he taught. The accommodation was part of his payment along with a noggin of whiskey for breakfast and a plentiful supply of his favorite tobacco. Marie’s music can be found on her website:


Maura Megan Knowles and John Kearns

Back from L.A where she is shooting a film, Maura Megan Knowles debuted a brand new, very powerful song, “Shamed & Silent No More,written with composer Kevin McNally and accompanied on guitar by the talented John Kearns. Maura has been busy in L.A., where she did a pilot with Danny Trejo and the new ABC Family Series, Stitchers. She’s also recording songs and writing. Please visit for more.


Mark Butler


Christian Zabriskie

Mark Butler, producer of IAW&A’s fundraiser to benefit Urban Librarian Unite introduced ULU’s Executive Director
, Christian Zabriskie. ULU is grassroots advocacy group of librarians from all over the city. They bring Mini Libraries and public storytelling to the streets and parks, sponsor a 24 Read In to promote reading, and they ran a hugely successful campaign to distribute children’s books after Hurricane Sandy. ULU embodies IAW&A’s mission of fostering access to the arts and education. We think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Some of the artists scheduled to appear in The Amazing Library Variety Show: Maxine Linehan, Jon Gordon, Richard Butler, Marni Rice, Hammerstep, Honor Molloy, TJ English, Larry Kirwan, Karl Scully and several beloved Salon presenters.

The Amazing Library Variety Show. May 19 at 7pm at The Cell. Donation $25; all proceeds will go to ULU. Reserve now at


John Kearns

Salon host John Kearns shared a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. Writing in his journal, Paul Logan tells the story of meeting a childhood friend, Joe Boyle, at his mother’s wake in Ardmore, PA and then running into Joe again at Bowling Green in New York.  We’ll get to hear about the encounter between these two old friends at the next IAW&A Salon.


Kevin R. McPartland

Novelist and short-story writer, Kevin R. McPartland held the Salon crowd in rapt attention as he told a tale of old Brooklyn meets new Brooklyn with a looming eviction from a basement apartment at stake, a story that indeed had an interesting, comical, and poignant plot twist at the end.


John Paul Skocik

We got to enjoy John Paul Skocik performing three original tunes, two of them performed for the very first time anywhere. “Masquerade,” a happy sounding pop piece attempts to musically conceal the sardonic and self-loathing lyrics of an unrequited love. Next was a snippet of the unfinished “Cocktail Hour,” sung a capella, and inspired by Frank Sinatra’s contribution to the great American songbook. John premiered the rough, comical and lyrically sentimental punk styled tune “My Place.” It tells the brief tale of a man frustrated that he can’t be more to the woman he loves, yet he is also frustratingly content that he at least has what he has. Find John’s songs on iTunes and other online outlets, under his former band Girl To Gorilla.


Guenevere Donohue

Guenevere Donohue sang a gorgeous new composition that she wrote for the children of Palestine. Guen was inspired and moved by hearing that one of those children said “I have never seen the sea,” and she composed a song with that title. You can see the kids’ painting for Rogue Foundation’s I Am Palestine: “I Have Never Seen the Sea” Exhibit at the Chelsea Fine Arts building.

Prompted by Guen’s lovely song, Malachy McCourt recounted a not-so-lovely childhood memory of a promised trip to the sea that didn’t happen. He closed the night leading us with, “The Sea Around Us.”



Malachy McCourt

“The sea, oh the sea is the gradh geal mo croide.
Long may it stay between England and me.
It’s a sure guarantee that some hour we’ll be free.
Oh thank God we’re surrounded by water!”

Don’t forget: The “Special Edition Salon” The Amazing Library Variety Show. May 17 at 7pm at The Cell. Donation $25; all proceeds will go to ULU. Reserve at

February 23, 2015

IAW&A Salon 2/17/15: The Good Times Rolled on Mardi Gras

Filed under: Events,Film,Literature,Music,Social Activism,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 4:27 am

by Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Nobody mentioned Mardi Gras but the mood at the IAW&A Salon on Tuesday, February 17 was sure celebratory. Highlights included three wonderful new presenters, unique music, great fiction and a one-of-a-kind performance from our friend from Dublin, Brian Fleming.


Ryan Cahill, Jack DiMonte, and Nancy Oda

Ryan Cahill and Jack DiMonte hit all the right notes reading the roles of the seductive Pamela Churchill and the stately Averill Harriman in Sheila Walsh’s musical Pamela. The playwright was delighted when audience members asked her the magic question, “What comes next?” Sheila thanks Ryan, Jack, and Nancy Oda who read stage directions.


Tom Phelan

Tom Phelan kept the audience laughing as he read from his latest novel, Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told. Shelf Awareness calls the book a “masterful portrait of Irish village life disguised as a murder mystery” and notes “Phelan finds humor and warmth in every poignant moment.” Tom will read from Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told and talk about life in the Irish countryside in the 1940s/1950s at the Rockville Centre Public Library, 221 N. Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY on Saturday, 28 February, at 1pm. More at and
You will be able to hear Tom on the radio at Glucksman Ireland House NYU Radio Hour. Tune in on 2/28, 9am to 10am on WNYE 91.5FM and on and on


Sheila Walsh and Sarah Fearon

We watched a charming short film by Tom Mahon of last year’s St. Pat’s for All Parade. Parade organizer and co-founder Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy invited everyone to join the fun this year on Sunday, March 1. Come march under the IAW&A banner. Watch this space and our Facebook page for details. Visit


John Kearns

Tonight’s host, the Salon producer John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. The book follows the Logan family over several generations, and reflects the experiences of many Irish-American families. In this excerpt, Janey Logan is preparing to move her family from her native West Philadelphia to her husband’s family home in the suburb of Ardmore. She reflects on what she and her children will gain and lose by moving to the suburbs and on her lifetime of memories in St. Francis de Sales parish. Her old neighbor, Tom Dugan, stops to chat and, as Janey watches the familiar sight of Mr. Dugan’s walking up the street smoking his pipe, she wonders if she’ll ever see it again.


Don Meade

Traditional musician Don Meade, a great supporter of the Salon, showed his versatile talent by playing harmonica and banjo, singing and sharing his knowledge. Don played a jig called “The Haunted House,” the reels “The Abbey” and “The Custom Gap” and sang “Omagh Town” by Michael Hurl.

You can see Don and friends every Monday night at The Landmark Tavern for a traditional music session. More at


Laissez le bon temps roulez


Guenevere Donohue

Guenevere Donohue sang her jazz/blues version of Tom Waits’s story song, Small Change. Her sultry voice riffing on the Sax intro of the original created a totally new enthralling version of a classic.

Poet Mary E. Gonzalez is the daughter of Mary Kate Lohan of Dublin and of George Ugactz, a first generation Russian American. A graduate of Columbia University and host of a YouTube channel, Loving Life and Words, Mary read from two of her three poetry books currently available via Amazon:

  • Four Folded Corners (M.E. Gonzalez): Poems read include  “Love,” “Hate: In response to Extremism,” “The Strength of Trees”, “Summery Day”, “A Winter’s Farewell”, On an Amtrak Train to Utica
  • Two of Cups: A New York Poet in Galway (under pen name Mary E. Lohan) Poems read include “Clonmacnoise,” “Love is Not,” “Nothing is Constant”
  • Speaking to the Darkness (under pen name Mary E. Lohan)


Peter Digan

Peter Digan, newly imported from County Offaly and recently married to Mary Gonzalez, sang two songs — a rendition of Christy Moore’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”and had us singing along with “The Wild Rover.”  Welcome Mary and Peter!


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon took us to upstate New York with “The Burial” from his collection Tomorrow Never Came. In the story, a farmer brings his dead wife to a minister to have him say some words over her before he buries her. New to the community, the minister pries into the life of the farmer and his wife and family. The man answers but is as guarded and private as the preacher is public.


Brian Fleming

Dublin performer Brian Fleming gave a hilarious preview of his performance, A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade, playing now as part of the Frigid New York Festival. Described as “a romp through 14 years of celebration and resistance with the inclusive St. Pat’s For All Parade in Queens…through music, projections, bad dance and bad striptease…” Support this artist who visits the Salon when he’s in New York. Get your tickets here:


Celeste Ray

In her Salon debut, musician Celeste Ray, a founding member of Four Celtic Voices, played several songs on a double Bowed Psaltery.

Those of us who were unfamiliar with this string instrument were stunned by its gorgeous sound and by her superb talent. Celeste closed the night by singing an IAW&A favorite, “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Learn more at and find her on Facebook:

The good times will still be rolling at the Salon at the Thalia on March 3. See you then!

January 28, 2015

1/20/15 IAW&A Salon at the Cell: Theatre Artists, A Film from Dublin, Prose, Poetry, & Song!

Filed under: Essay,Film,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 2:48 am

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Tuesday night’s salon at the Cell drew an unusually large number of theater artists along with a film maker, a comedian, a singer and several writers to the latest edition of the always lively bimonthly Irish Writers and Artists event.


Pat Fenton

Playwright Pat Fenton led off the evening with part of his play called Jack’s Last Call Say Goodbye to Kerouac.  It’s Jack Kerouac’s last night in Northport, Long Island, the eve of a dreaded move to St Petersburg, Florida with his mother. He spends this last night drinking and thinking back to all his young years out on the road and the America he saw then. And he realizes that it’s slowly vanishing. The play has been at the Boston Playwright’s Theater and in Jack Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell and Pat hopes to bring it to New York.

Jack Dimonte and Nancy Oda in Sheila Walsh’s, “Books”

Playwright Sheila Walsh’s ten-minute play “Books” featured IAW&A members and actors Nancy Oda, Jack DiMonte and Sarah Fearon. The drama takes place in December 1941 in Paris; a German Officer approaches Sylvia Beach and demands her only copy of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.  

patrick Patrick Ssenjovu

Actor Patrick Ssenjovu amazed the crowd, performing a work-in-progress about a South African painter of flowers on rocks, called The Young Wanderer.

jones cast Christy Jones and Cast

Christy Jones presented the first reading of a new work with four actresses (two recruited on the spot) a piece to illustrate the tremendous will and faith it takes for someone who has been sheltered from the world, to go forth and create a whole new world for themselves.  Christy wishes to thank Ryan, Samantha, Cailin and  a young actress he never got a chance to thank.

dj D J Sharp

Actor D J Sharp gave a chilling depiction of Tennessee Williams during the last three days of his life.

nancy Nancy Oda

Nancy Oda gave her second performance of the night in a monologue called “Have I Got a Story” written by Tom Mahon from his collection:  Tomorrow Never Came. The main character, a young woman, has moved with her husband and baby to NYC from West Texas. An elderly ballerina’s obsession with the couple’s baby is the central focus of the strange story the main character tells, ending the monologue with the line, “Is that some story?”

tom Tom Mahon

sarah Sarah Fearon

Actor and comedian Sarah Fearon also returned a second time to the stage to do a set of her comedy. She asks members to pencil in the date of April 12 at the Irish Arts Center where she will be performing on the bill of IAC’s Sunday’s at Seven monthly comedy event.

iris Iris Park

Filmmaker Iris Park showed her short film called “Darren and Lisa” based on a short story she co-wrote of the same name.  Written, directed and produced by Iris Park. Funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.  The film follows a young couples search for love and the geographical and personal obstacles they face.

film Darren and Lisa

Singer Ryan Cahill, being passionate about the history of the traditional folk songs she performs, gave a brief history lesson to end the night.  She examined the relation between the obscure Scottish Ballad, “The Elfin Knight”, and the well-known English Ballad, “Scarborough Faire”.  She, of course, sang both for emphasis.

ryan Ryan Cahill

Two prose writers and a poet gave readings from their work.

kelly Christy Kelly

Returning to the salon for the first time in a long while, Christy Kelly, read from his novel in progress.

megan  Megan O’Donnell

Also returning after a absence of a few months, Megan O’Donnell, poet and lyricist for the psychedelic rock band, Sofus, shared a selection of politically charged poems and imaginative soon-to-be songs. The works she read ranged from a call to action against the persistent societal ills of racism and sexism to a morbid but insightful look at the side effects of being a living being. She ended the performance with a Haiku she wrote earlier that week, which sums up her current complex relationship with hope, ambition, and reality. It reads:

Reasons for dreaming:
morning will come either way,
you might as well

John Kearns

Our talented host John Kearns read the conclusion of the story he presented at the last salon. The excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, tells of college student Paul Logan’s procrastination as he types a research paper while watching the live broadcast of, “The Mystery of Henry Ford’s Secret Underground Chamber.” At the end of the broadcast, the TV host has found nothing in the chamber except another wall, and Paul has typed only two pages.


See you at Bar Thalia on Thursday, February 5th, at 6 pm for our next IAW&A Salon!

April 21, 2014

IAWA Member Kathy Callahan’s Short Film in Ridgewood Guild Film Festival

Filed under: Film,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:31 pm

On Thursday evening, April 24, 2014, Kathy Callahan’s short film will be shown as part of The Ridgewood Guild Film Festival.


Come out and support Kathy and enjoy her film! 

October 24, 2013

John Patrick Shanley’s Remarkable O’Neill Award Acceptance Speech

IRT_1014John Patrick Shanley, 2013 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

I love you all. I’m miserable with love for you. I want to move in with you. I want to stay with you until you die. And I want to bury you. I hate you, too.

The paradox. The contradiction. I love ya. I hate ya. In short, did I mention that I’m Irish? What is a man who would blow up the world because he loves it so much? He’s Irish. Why do so many Irish people write?

So they won’t kill you. But that’s obvious. So they won’t kill you and have sex with everybody in your house. That’s why we write, we Irish.

I know I shouldn’t generalize. Stick to what you know they say. Why do I write? Many reasons.


Here’s a story to illustrate.

A family of birds fell in love with a girl and would not let her be. Shehad to live in a birdcage to keep them out. One morning, she left the gate open and the birds got into the cage with her. So she leapt out and shut the door. When you visit her, all seems normal. She is in her chair. Birds chirp in a cage. But when you know the history, what you see is different.

To be a writer is to reveal history. And to make connections, metaphors. A good metaphor is like a trellis to which new ideas can cling and grow; it is a structure that invites life. Sometimes I think to be a writer is like you get to sleep in a glass bed. It’s beautiful, it’s hard, it’s cold, but you get to see down, way down maybe.

Another world.

Thinking about talking today, I was unpacking my head last night, looking for stuff, and I realized that my head was packed all wrong. You know, like at the supermarket. Somebody packed the squishiest stuff at the bottom of my head. My childhood was down under all these marriages and cars and stuff, and it looked… well, it didn’t look good. Why does God put pack childhood at the bottom of the bag? That’s my first question for you.

Not that I’m going to talk about my childhood.

Lucky you.

But let me talk like I write think for a minute because why not?

I write because it is the day after some other day, and as usual I’m looking for the hidden valley or green shoots or code or balcony or question or messenger or bible angel… or you. Maybe I’m a search party looking for you by writing and the letters are falling out of the words like sand into the bottom half of Time, and the window by the desk is broken, and the sweet air is coming in, and is that your scent reimagining everything in my world?

Are you the organizing template that changes how I see the coming hours? Are you the Pilgrim sailing into my Plymouth, mounted on some mottled Pegasus, intent on upending this chaos Life?

The idea of your arrival turns my inner rubble into castles, chapels, walled gardens, ornamental vistas. In short, it is for you, folks, that I bother to become intelligible.

But not yet. A massive dictionary is hurled down by some ineloquent god; it busts open and the language pieces gather around you into poetry and revelation.

We don’t know what role we play, when the day comes looking for its purpose. Me writing is me searching for you.

I should tell you something personal. Sometimes I imagine that I am a horse. I don’t tell anybody when I’m doing this. I just look at people and think: “I am a horse.” It’s very relaxing. You should try it. Let’s all do it for a minute. Think: I am a horse. I am a horse in a folding chair. We are horses hanging out, having cocktails. What’s the problem? Nice, isn’t it, being horses together? Now think of the cricket. The bug. The little cricket. Some say crickets are damned souls asking for another chance at life. So I say to you: Don’t be a cricket. Be a horse. Horses step on critics. I mean, crickets.

I started out as a poet. A poet is like a pearl diver who holds her breath, hoping for a pearl. Fathom after fathom, down she goes. When has she gone too far? When is the pain too much? When does the pursuit of the prize tempt her beyond the mortal line of life itself? I have been writing all my life. My writing was my way of pushing against my reluctance to live. I was writing before I was calling it writing.

At first I thought it was puberty. I told Sister Christopher ‘There’s a piano in my head. If I don’t play it, somebody else will.’

And she hit me.


To ask another question: Eugene O’Neill. Why did he have to be so unhappy? Was that really necessary? Couldn’t he have written those beautiful plays, those strange plays, those sometimes lousy plays, without being just glutted and clogged up and finally wilted with misery?

He was a good dresser. No one can take that away from him. He never wrote a good line they say, but he could wear clothes.

This award I’ve received is named after O’Neill but I’m accepting it anyway. It’s an award, and if I get enough of them, maybe I won’t die. But I will. Damn it. Damn it.

Another story. A man raised by dogs was chasing a car down the street. Somebody stopped him and

asked: “What would happen if you caught that car?” The man replied “Why then I’d be happy.”

I am that man.

That is my affair with language. It is a pursuit. I send my ALL out of my fingers across this world to

you. My tenderness overwhelms my senses in the process. I can’t be otherwise than I am. I’ve thrown away whatever could have protected me. It’s such a reckless thing to truly be yourself. It’s like kneeling and offering your sword to God. I’d just like to say as a central statement that I am no more than a follicle on the face of Eugene O’Neill, and yet I have this award and he is dead.

Let me ask you this? Why is a beautiful woman more beautiful when she is holding a lamb chop? It’s a mystery, perhaps a Catholic mystery.

My mother wanted me to be a priest. What WAS she thinking?

O’Neill, leaning against an elm tree, would say Incest. O’Neill had incest more often than he had

marmalade. Mentally. That’s why he went to sea. To escape the incest.

Why does Conor MacPherson write about ghosts all the time? So that he doesn’t write about incest.

Why does Martin MacDonagh write how awful Irish people are? Because he’s Irish and that’s what we do when we’re not chasing our sisters down the hallways of our unconscious. MacPherson and

MacDonagh also have pianos in their heads that they must play or devils will. I can see it in their pink and blinking eyes.

Why does William Kennedy write about Albany? Nobody  knows.

A pair of Pulitzer & Eugene O'Neill Award winners: John Patrick Shanley and William Kennedy

A pair of Pulitzer & Eugene O’Neill Award winners: John Patrick Shanley and William Kennedy

Rip paper. Spatter ink. Scrawl a word. Screw it to the paper. Stop. Ignore the heart. Ignore the brain. Find the stone you stand upon. Say it all. Then you’re gone. That’s the writer’s way.

Or say nothing. Create a silence as frightening as a black ripped hole of a nightmare. Watch it grow like a dark forest leaning over the road. Walk that road till you yourself turn into a dark river, dangerous to ford. Travel on. The edge of dawn appears like gold abandoned by retreating bandits. A steel grey trout darts in your freezing waters. You emerge from Winter and the Night. The silence you created becomes summer, the trees bear fruit, and THAT’s the writer’s way, too.

You don’t understand everything I’m saying? Relax. You’re not supposed to. Take the ride. I am.


Take what you want. What you leave is more than enough for me. Take everything. Everything will still be there when I need it. Give me everything, why don’t you? You will still be rich. We’re all rich. We own nothing. We lose nothing. We acquire nothing. But we can use our metaphorical minds and memories to remember the sun when the rain falls, the warm when the chill is on us. We can remember Love when no Love is, which is a way of always having

Love. Remember your pleasures like consoling candles that dance on the edge of the dark. Safe? You will never be safe! Find pleasure in peril, or live in an upholstered dream. The love you want you have. The future is an act of imagination, intelligence and hope.

All you have ever been, that is your treasure. Value it. No part of your history is less than precious.

2013 Eugene O'Neill Award Celebra

2013 Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration

Everything you’ve ever wanted is right here, waiting for you to pick it up and use it. NOW.

The largest bell in Notre Dame is named Emmanuel. It weighs almost 13 tons. I sometimes picture myself as the cathedral and this bell within me. It’s immobility is so difficult to overcome. I want to vibrate from my center outward until I am heard. My quiet credo to myself and you: The long journey earns its destination.

To speak straight on for a moment, I have avoided writing about the Irish most of my life. I did this because I wanted to be an American writer, not an Irish American writer. If you’re an Irish American writer, the critics discount 46 percent of your talent as a natural genetic blemish. But now, as my hair goes grey or just goes, I’ve decided it’s time to admit I’m Irish, and to write about the Irish. My father came from Westmeath when he was 24. He’d be a 107 now so it’s good he’s dead or he’d frighten everybody. But

he made it to 95 he did, and a great man he was. Grew up on a farm that’s still in my family. I was just there a couple of months ago. The cows ran away from me.

They saw the city on my face.

My grandmother used to say that Ireland would sink into the sea 7 years before the end of the world, and I think she was right. When Ireland is no more, when the Irish perspective abandons the human experience, I think the end will be upon us. I have Ireland on Google Alert so I will know instantly when Ireland has sunk and the final countdown has begun.

I will immediately chase down as many beautiful women with lamb chops and sheep’s eyes as I can manage, and try to write once more with flame and blood my personal experience of this beautiful life that is so fleeting and so fine.

Thank you for honoring me. I value the boost. My experience of life radiates outward from a central core. It violates my skin like the spokes on a sheriff’s star, exceeds my boundary of flesh, and affects others. Each of you in turn radiate outward as well, and the effects of your good will in this case overstep and crosshatch my personal fire. We are a cosmos, balls of light, and in the case of the Irish, gas. I have always perceived that my individual existence is in part illusory. We are all over each

other, covering and permeating each other with lights and wind and magnetism and spirit. I do not believe I will ever die until everyone of you is dead, and those beyond this room and this time have perished also.

I don’t know what happens after humanity flickers out.

The party’s over I guess. The cumulative effort is accomplished. We will retreat into a dark fist until creation broods anew and takes some other turn. It’s pointless to peer too far down the curving corridors of time. Now is all.

You are benevolent and kindly in this gesture. You honor me for what I have so far done. That is an alright thing to do.

It’s not too serious.

I’m just a schmuck like all of you.

But there is joy and wisdom in honoring any one of us.

We are alive.

We strive.

And, if we are blessed, we create light.

I’m glad my son is here, as well as friends and strangers.

Thank you all!

© John Patrick Shanley

October 2, 2013

Irish Film New York and Irish American Writers & Artists co-present “When Ali Came to Ireland”

Filed under: Events,Film,Social Activism,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 7:54 pm
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Irish Film New York and Irish American Writers & Artists co-present When Ali Came to Ireland, which tells the story of Ali’s visit to Ireland in 1972 at the height of his career.  Self-proclaimed ‘World’s Strongest Publican’ Michael ‘Butty’ Sugrue pulled off a massive sporting coup when he convinced Ali’s promoter he was good for the $300k down-payment required to bring Ali to Ireland.  He then largely paid for the proceedings in beer-stained bank notes. The trip had a huge impact on those Ali met and, some say, on the man himself and how he viewed white people in the aftermath of his conversion to Islam.  When Ali Came to Ireland screens Sunday, October 6 at 6:00pm.

With the support of Glucksman Ireland House, Irish Film New York’s third season of contemporary Irish cinema also includes Run & Jump, Made in Belfast, Silence, King of the Travellers and The Hardy Bucks Movie. Irish American Writers & Artists members can buy discounted $10 tickets (normally $12) here for any of the films by using the promotional code IAWA.

Irish Film New York, NYU’s Cantor Center, East 8th St, NYC. October 3-6, 2013.

September 23, 2013

Member Artists: Promote Your Work in Eugene O’Neill Awards Program

Filed under: Events,Film,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized,Visual Arts — by scripts2013 @ 9:16 pm

Attention Writers and Artists with works to sell! You can advertise your books and CDs or other artistic work in the IAW&A Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration program.

Promote your works. Let attendees know the kind of work our members are producing.


If you are a member and would like to place an ad:

1. Send camera-ready ads of 1/8 of a page (business card size) to:

2. Send $50 to:

Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc
511 Avenue of the Americas #304
New York, NY 10011

DEADLINE: October 1, 2013. 

September 5, 2013

Tributes to Seamus Heaney, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Memoir, and Music at the 9/3 IAW&A Salon

Filed under: Essay,Events,Film,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:55 pm

by Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

The Irish American Writers & Artists honored the memory of the great Seamus Heaney in the way we know best – by reading his poems at the Salon on Tuesday, September 3rd at Bar Thalia. Members, including Mark Butler, John Kearns, and Bernadette Cullen read a selection of his works throughout the evening.


Guenevere Donohue gave her tribute in song. Guen, with that lovely voice, sang “The Parting Glass.” She described the feeling perfectly, calling it a night of “…profound gratitude for the words and works Mr. Heaney has graced us with…”


Guenevere Donohue

In addition to Mr. Heaney’s poems,  members read original poetry.  We had a short film by a new member and we had several explorations of motherhood. Lest you think we were too solemn, there were plenty of laughs from amusing songs by Jack DiMonte and John Skocik, including John’s adorable new song about his baby; a tale of a real life mobster, and two funny women, Sheila Walsh reading a piece of her play about a divorced woman with an aging mother and Honor Molloy with piece from her autobiographical novel, Smarty Girl.

Jim Callaghan presented a humorous, sad story called “Lunch with Big Joe” about the day his publisher told him that he had to meet one of the most feared Mafia bosses in Italy and New York. Jim described how the Koch administration rewarded the mobster with a lucrative contract to run a homeless shelter at his motel. This story will be included in an introduction to a collection of Jim’s writings for New York City newspapers spanning 1978 to 2013.

Jim has been an investigative reporter and columnist for New York newspapers, including the New York Observer, Newsday, the Irish Echo, the Village Voice and the Wall Street Journal. He has also taught college writing and hosted a cable call-in show from 1990 to 2000 in Staten Island.


Jim Callaghan

Vivian O`Shaughnessy read her brief “Funky Sonnet from Us” that has included in London`s Southbank Centre Poetry Library rare book collection. A poet and visual artist, Vivian’s Dada Art Activity book has been added to the collections of Louvre Education, Bibliotheque Nationale of France, MOMA, Morgan Library and New York Public Library. She will be a participant poet at Festival International de la Poesie a Paris 2013 on October 15-19. Vivian’s art has been displayed at the Cell Theater.  See her work at


Vivian O’Shaugnessy

John Kearns was grateful to have Honor Molloy join him at the mic for his “Poem for Mom.” Written for reading aloud at the W.B. Yeats Society series at the Irish Times bar on Capitol Hill, John’s poem features two voices: the narrator’s declaiming a Miltonian elegy for his deceased mother and in a fine counterpoint, the mother’s poking holes in the narrator’s seriousness and pretension.


John Kearns and Honor Molloy

Going from mom to little girl, Honor Molloy read a charming, hilarious outtake from her autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. In this passage, “the Fil-ums,” little Noleen O’Feeney nabs some extra work in a movie called Where’s Jack and stirs up trouble.  Bestselling author Peter Quinn has praised Honor’s heroine as “…irreverent, sarcastic, resilient, engaging, entertaining, and wise beyond her years.” And those characteristics were on display tonight.


Honor Molloy

We count on Jack DiMonte to surprise us with his vast knowledge of songs. Tonight, he sang “Robert Frost,” a humorous musing written by the great jazz bass player Jay Leonhart. A writer how imagines great his own life would be if he had the options he believes that America’s most famous poet had at his beck and call, especially a wealthy female patron to ease his way in life.   A sugar Mama?


Jack DiMonte

Dublin writer and director Helen O’Reilly screened her short movie,  “Finding Oscar,” about a day in the life of 5-year-old, Keelin. The little girl desperately wants to find her lost rabbit but has to abandon her search to attend a party at the local yacht club with her family. What starts out as a fun day for everyone quickly unravels into something entirely different that will be etched in Keelin’s memory forever.


Helen O’Reilly

Tom Mahon read the fourth chapter from his novel in progress American Mastery. Set in territory that Tom knows well, rural upstate New York, it’s about two brothers who couldn’t be less alike, but who join forces to create a business that provides them and their families an independent, creative and rewarding life together. In this chapter, Charlie Fenton wakes to learn that his father is experiencing chest pains and is at the doctor. Charlie and his mother rush there to learn that he too has heart disease. The one manufacturer left in their town wants them to go to Asia, but Charlie has never flown before because he’s petrified of flying and dying in a fireball or feeding the sharks with his remains.

Tom has shared his progress on this novel, which he began (and stopped) writing years ago and returned to this past summer.


Tom Mahon

Another salon member who has been sharing her work-in-progress, Sheila Walsh read another monologue from her new comedic play, Surrender in Somerville.  It is a funny and touching look at how a love affair in the 1960s reunites two lonely people decades later. Sheila was delighted to hear the magic words for a writer…”What happens next?”


Sheila Walsh

Jon Gordon read from his recently released memoir, For Sue – A Memoir, which has been described as “…an American Angela’s Ashes…” (Guillermo Echanique, publisher Chimbarazu Press, Brooklyn, NY).  Jon has read sections before, from his story of his childhood growing up alone with an alcoholic single mother. Originally self-published, For Sue will be distributed by Chimbaruzu press this fall and has been scheduled for a second printing. (


Jon Gordon

Brendan Costello Jr. read the opening scene of his short story “Circus Brunch at Zapruder’s.”  The narrator is an embittered clown handing out drink and waffle coupons on a New York street corner, casting a cold, grease-painted eye on life passing by.  He’ll read another section of the story at a future salon.


Brendan Costello


There were also some announcements of some notable dates coming up.

Sunday, September 15

Mark Butler invited the audience to join him on a road trip to South Jersey on Sunday, September 15 for a matinee performance of the classic Sondheim musical Assassins. Richard Butler, a Salon regular and Mark’s brother, will play Charles Guiteau, the man who killed President James Garfield. Please contact John Kearns at if you are interested.


Mark Butler

Thursday, September 19

Join us for Brendan at the Chelsea on Thursday, September 19 at 8 PM.

Legendary Dublin writer Brendan Behan returns to his adopted home of New York in, a warm and funny drama from Belfast’s LyricTheatre, staring Adrian Dunbar in his New York stage debut. IAW&A will have a Q&A session with cast members after the show. Tickets are available for $37.75, 40% off the regular price (limit two tickets per member) by emailing your request to

To pay, send a check to Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc 511 Avenue of the Americas #304, or give a check to John Kearns at the 9/17 Salon at the Cell.


John Lee

Sunday, October 20

Table 4 Writers Foundation is awarding four $2,500 grants to writers, in the tradition of the late Elaine Kaufman who nurtured writers at her famous Upper East Side restaurant. You can find all the rules and download an application at Deadline is October 20.


Sarah Fearon

September 5-22

Regular Salon presenter Mary Tierney is appearing in a musical version of Tom Jones at the Theater for the New City.

John Paul Skocik returned to play a few songs to close out the evening.  The first, called “Madeira,” has its roots by a mariachi music and the lyrics tell the story of a man searching for something new and though exhilarating, only finding trouble.  The second and third songs were brand new and inspired by John’s latest role as a new parent.  “There’s No Time” is swampy blues riff based on a conversation with his wife regarding the lack of time to do just about anything now they are both preoccupied by their new son.  “Toes In the Air” was written specifically for their little boy, Jack, and is essentially just a happy-go-lucky song about Jack’s preference of footwear, or rather lack thereof.

John in the meantime continues to write and perform solo and with his band Girl To Gorilla in the NYC area.  He is currently also working on finishing his second album which he hopes to be completed by early 2014, if Jack allows him the time.


John Skocik

Join us on at our next IAW&A Salon on  Tuesday, September 17 at 7 pm at the Cell Theater.   Musician and writer Marni Rice is scheduled to host!


August 9, 2013

More Captivating than a Car Crash: Family Themes, Enchanting Music & Stories Mark IAW&A’s August 6th Salon

Filed under: Events,Film,Irish Politics,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:26 pm

by Mary Lannon

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A story of a young woman who decidedly doesn’t want to be her mother as told by Philomena Connors and a song about a man who realizes much to his chagrin that he has become his father sung by John Byrne were just two highlights of a salon full of family-themed drama at the Thalia Tuesday night.

Before the salon began IAW&A board member, John Lee, announced an upcoming IAW&A theater night at Brendan at the Chelsea, an Off-Broadway play from Belfast’s Lyric Theatre about the legendary and notorious Dublin writer, Brendan Behan, and his waning days of his life spent at NYC’s famed artists’ hotel, The Chelsea. Adrian Dunbar will make his New York stage debut starring in the role of Behan. The play runs from Sept. 4 to Oct. 6, and the IAW&A will soon announce the details and discounted ticket prices of its planned mid-September Theater Night.  Lee also reminded the Salon about the Eugene O’Neill Award Celebration on Oct. 21, which this year honors the writer, John Patrick Shanley, who has already won the trifecta of a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar and a Tony Award.


John Lee

Connors’ piece chronicled a young woman’s journey from 1970s rural Ireland to the water’s edge in Cuba.  Water served as a theme for change and growth and linked the two islands’ histories of revolution. The main character, Sarah, recounted with a great deal of humor her own revolt against social expectations for women.


Philomena Connors

In contrast, Byrne’s narrator in his song “Old Man’s Disguise” processes the relationship with his Dad, and to his surprise recognizes that he has become his father.  Byrne also sang “Various Verses” as a tribute to the people who used to come to his house in Dublin and sing.  The pride each person took in his/her song inspired this piece.  Both songs are on Byrne’s After the Wake album. Visit


John Byrne

Byrne and Connors were not the only ones to take up the theme of family and its influences.

Her mother was a big focus in Maureen Hossbacher’s piece called “Tables.”  Having planned to write about food, the muse moved her to write a backhanded, affectionate tribute to her mother, eliciting laughs from the audience and, no doubt, fond memories of many of their own childhood tables.


Maureen Hossbacher

Jon Gordon told of the by turns heart-breaking and funny relationship between Gordon and his addicted and depressed mother in his memoir, For Sue.  The self-published memoir, which also delves into the many tragedies that befell his mother, will soon be out through Chimbaruzu publishing.  Gordon will also have two books for students of jazz improvisation on Colin Music out later this year.


Jon Gordon

Tom Mahon opened with a family-themed piece from his novel American Mastery. It tells of two brothers who experience setbacks but join talents and inadvertently create a prosperous and creative business. In the excerpt that he read from chapter two, the brothers meet the man who shows them the creativity and rewards of being an entrepreneur.  Mahon enjoyed reading it, and it showed; it was very well received.


Tom Mahon

John Kearns also told of two brothers in an excerpt set in 1920s Philadelphia from his historical novel-in progress Worlds. Folks who were at the Cell in July heard the first part of the scene that Kearns continued Tuesday night. This time his character James Logan takes his brother, Rev. Sarsfield Logan S.J., on a tour of his luxurious new home on Philadelphia’s Main Line.  After the tour, in the kitchen with his wife, Mariellen, James complains that his brother showed no excitement about anything in the well-appointed house except for an old walking stick that belonged to their father. When they rejoin Sarsfield in the living room, they suspect that he might have overheard their conversation…


John Kearns

Another part of the history of the Irish diaspora was the topic of Mary Pat Kelly’s talk on her adventures in research as she writes Of Irish Blood, a sequel to her historical novel Galway Bay based on her own family’s story. Of Irish Blood follows her great aunt to Paris in 1912 where in real life she was a buyer for Marshall Field but in fiction she meets and befriends Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz and other women of the Irish Revolutionary movement.


Mary Pat Kelly


Mary Pat gamely competed with a car accident that took place outside the Thalia’s window — and won!  Rumors are spreading that the driver was the grandniece of Countess Markievecz, once removed.


Jack DiMonte, Mary Lannon, & Karen Daly enjoying the break

mark d

Mark Donnelly recommends Kelly Kinsella’s play at the Cell Theatre

Other enchanting works did not pick up on family themes.

Kevin McPartland read an excerpt from his novel, Brownstone Dreams, newly published by Boann Books and Media.  In the excerpt, teenager Bobby Dutton finds himself in the Brooklyn House of Detention after breaking a window in a Park Slope jewelry store.  When he is suddenly bailed out, he is shocked to learn that the bail was paid by the father of his former neighborhood nemesis, Vincent Casseo.


Kevin McPartland

Ed Farrell, following advice offered by Malachy McCourt, told rather than read from his historical novel employing magic realism, An Inconvenient Resurrection.


Ed Farrell

Sarah Fearon offered the audience a preview of her in-progress short film entitled Snazzy Peabody.  Snazzy is an over-the-top broker and legend in her own mind. Sarah read and improvised on, among other themes, the concept of “ownership” to be featured in the upcoming shoot in Coney Island.


Sarah Fearon

Mary Lannon did a smashing job of reading through the fender-bender that took everyone’s eyes out the Thalia’s windows.  She read a scene about moving to a new school in the middle of the year from her finished novel (with its impossibly long title) Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon Theory aka How I Became A Scientist and Discovered the Truth About Parallel Universes by Miranda J. McCleod.  The novel recounts the life and times of a girl science geek who believes that at the age of 14 she got sucked through a faulty air-conditioner and landed in a parallel universe.


Mary Lannon

Last but hardly least, the lilting soprano of visitor from Ireland, Katie McGale’s singing “She Moved Through the Fair” ended another inspiring night at the Thaila.


Katie McGale

The next salon is August 20th at the Cell.   See you there!.

Be careful out there

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