Irish American Writers & Artists

October 4, 2013

Debra Messing to Toast Shanley at IAW&A O’Neill Award event

Filed under: Events,Television,Theater — by tjenglish @ 4:08 pm

Image Award Winners Olympia Dukakis, Debra Messing, Doug Hughes to Laud John Patrick Shanley at 2013 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award

Oscar-, Tony-, and Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Writer and Irish American to be Honored in NYC on October 21st

New York, NY – October 3, 2013 – Academy-Award winner Olympia Dukakis and Emmy-Award winner Debra Messing will join renowned theatre and film director and Tony-Award-winner Doug Hughes to toast the career of playwright, screenwriter, and film director, John Patrick Shanley, at the Irish American Writers and Artists (IAW&A) annual Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award celebration on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at the Manhattan Club, upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s, 800 7th Avenue (at 52nd Street), New York City, starting at 6 p.m.

“Like Marlon Brando did to acting, John Shanley entered the theatre world and shook it to its core,” Debra Messing said. “His voice is powerful and distinct, by turns kinetic and lyrical. He is prolific and expansive. A gift to us all.”

John Patrick Shanley, winner of the artistic “trifecta” of a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar and a Tony Award will add the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to his list of honors at the Irish American Writers & Artists annual celebration. He has written over 20 plays including Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Savage in Limbo.  For his play, Doubt, he received both a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize.  As a screenwriter he received an Academy Award for best original screenplay for Moonstruck.  The film version of Doubt, in which he directed Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay.

“John Patrick Shanley shares a great deal with Eugene O’Neill,” said Doug Hughes, who will present the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to Shanley, “an Irish-American upbringing, a staggeringly varied body of astonishing work, and a fine indifference to popular and critical whims.  Just as O’Neill did, John set out to become an essential American dramatic poet.  He has succeeded.  It’s fitting that we honor him with an award named for our nation’s greatest playwright.” 

Doug Hughes has had an acclaimed career as a Broadway director and won the 2005 Tony Award for his direction of Doubt.  He will be directing Shanley’s new play, Outside Mullingar, on Broadway in January 2014. 

Olympia Dukakis, a vital, respected actor of the classic and contemporary stage won an Oscar for her portrayal of Cher’s sardonic mother in the romantic comedy Moonstruck (1987). Her “roasting” of Shanley at the O’Neill Award is highly anticipated. 

Debra Messing is widely known for her television roles in Will & GraceThe Starter Wife, and Smash.  She will star in the Broadway production of Outside Mullingar, and will read from a selection of Shanley’s works during the O’Neill Award festivities. 

IAW&A Boardmember and comedian Sarah Fearon will act as Master of Ceremonies and Celtic songstress Ashley Davis will conclude the program with a song. 

The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2009 to honor the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician, or cultural institution that has sustained a body of work that best exemplifies the level of integrity maintained by O’Neill. Past honorees include Pulitzer-prize winning author William Kennedy, actor Brian Dennehy, Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly of New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre, and folksinger Judy Collins.

The award, created by Tiffany & Co., will be presented Mon., Oct. 21, 2013 at a generous hors d’œuvre and open bar reception and ceremony at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square, just a few blocks from where Eugene O’Neill was born. Ticketing information is available at the IAW&A website.

For more information on the IAW&A, visit the organization’s website at or its Facebook page for updates and information.

MEDIA CONTACT: John Lee, John Lee MEDIA, (0) 917-475-6981, (c) 917-653-3444.



February 22, 2013

IAW&A Sponsors “Focus on Ireland and the Women Who Call the Shots”

By Maura Kelly

Over the past 20 years Ireland has played host to a number of very successful international productions from Saving Private Ryan to Harry Potter.  In the last five years alone, Ireland has become a key destination for TV dramas –Games of Thrones, The TudorsThe Borgias to the new VIKINGS on the History Channel.

Photo info -Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson and Jessalyn Gilsig as his wife, Siggy. VIKINGS, History Channel 3/3/13

With this as the backstory, I created Focus on Ireland and the Women Who Call the Shots. I have been involved in New York Women in Film and TV for many years and regularly produce interactive events for the 2000 plus member organization. I am also a member, since its inception, of IAW&A. This event is an opportunity to bring two creative organizations together and explore Ireland’s evolving Film and TV industry; and the women who create compelling programs for screens worldwide. With March being Women’s History Month and also, Irish American Heritage Month, it is a perfect time to shine a spotlight on the players and the country.  The esteemed panel of women I’ve assembled will discuss HOW they do it and WHAT role Ireland plays.  We’ll explore international co-productions and review what Ireland offers with tax incentives, talent and geography.

Focus on Ireland and the Women Who Call the Shots–

March 4th at NYU (20 Cooper Square -7th FL at 6:30 pm)

To register, click  HERE. The special IAW&A member rate is $15.00.

To send in questions in advance email 

The panelists include:

Lelia Doolan is a producer and director who has worked in various roles in Irish TV, film and theatre for the past 40 years. Her recent documentary Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey is the story of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, a formidable figure in the Irish civil rights movement. Doolan is a former artistic director of the acclaimed Abbey Theatre, founder of the Galway Film Festival, and was the first woman chairperson of the Irish Film Board. She received a PhD in Anthropology from Queens University, Belfast, and has taught community video and adult education in Belfast.

Sheila Hockin is an executive producer on Vikings, the first scripted one-hour drama series for History Channel, and MGM, shot In Ireland. She is also executive producer on The Borgias for Showtime, now in its third season. Experienced in international co-productions and formats, Hockin’s past drama work also includes four seasons of the international co-production The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, also shot in Ireland. All three drama TV series are Irish /Canadian co-productions. She also EP’ed five seasons of the ground-breaking Showtime series Queer as Folk.

Hilary Kehoe is a production executive and coordinator who has worked on major films and TV series in Ireland and the U.S. For six years she worked at Samson Films/Accomplice TV in Dublin with David Collins. Since moving to New York in 2006, she has worked on My Super Ex-Girlfriend and I Am Legend, and has looked after the production needs of the cast and crew on Ugly Betty, Blue Bloods and most recently, Michael J. Fox’s new venture for Sony/NBC, The Henrys, airing fall 2013.

Naomi Sheridan is a film and television screenwriter. One of her first screenplays In America was co-written with her father, Jim, and sister, Kirsten. The screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a WGA award. It won the Critics Choice award and the National Board of Review award. Sheridan’s upcoming projects include an adaptation of the acclaimed novel Galway Bay, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel Rose Madder, and Thirty Eight, an original screenplay which she has written with the support of the Irish Film Board.

Moderator Maura Kelly is an Emmy-winning producer and marketing executive. From developing kids transmedia projects to producing television broadcasts, Maura  has built a rich media career. She has been a TV executive producer, director of marketing, journalist, adjunct professor, and is now principle of Purple Mountain Media. A former executive producer at (WNET) PBS for over 15 years, she developed and produced award-winning programs for a family audience, including Planet H2O with America Ferrera, ZOOM, Close to Home with Bill Moyers, and MythQuest. She is a member of WGA East

Produced by Maura Kelly and Marcia Rock/ NYU – to register go to

Another SRO Salon at The Cell!

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Television,Theater — by johnleemedia @ 11:18 pm
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By Mark William Butler

It was “standing room only” and you could feel the energy in the air as an eclectic and electric lineup of presenters and performers ignited the stage at the IAW&A Salon at The Cell Theatre on Tuesday night.  Spirits were high as the full house was treated to an exciting evening of fiction, memoir, poetry, theater, music and film, hosted by John Kearns.  And away we go…

Michele Cetera opened the night with a compelling monologue on relationships, “She Can Still Hear the Music.”  Michele’s character Macy Grant, whom Salon goers have met before, reveals “It feels bad, simple as that”, on her impending breakup.  Macy knows she needs to let go, but even more, doesn’t want to feel hurt.  She mourns for the love that once was and what could have been.  Michele, a dancer as well as writer and performer, beautifully evokes the summer night, the song, the romance.  In the end, Macy realizes she can still hear the music even without him, and letting go is necessary to heal a broken heart.

Ann McCoy read from MEANING Magazine…a short piece about her childhood growing up in the shadow of the bomb testing in the Nevada desert.  She teaches at Yale in the School of Drama, and is a visual artist and theater designer.  She has two pieces in the current Brooklyn Rail for February and March.

Mark Butler brought a little bit of Christmas to February by presenting one of his seasonal songs, “He’s Real,” which was performed beautifully by the lovely and talented Rachel MacRae Bouton.  The tune is from his musical A Bargain Basement Christmas, which was selected for The Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival in 2011 and was expanded into a full length play last year.

TJ English read a piece about the death of George Whitmore Jr., an iconic victim of racial injustice in 1960’s NYC.  The piece originally appeared as on op-ed article in the New York Times.

Maura Kelly spoke about the March 4th IAW&A and Women in Film & TV joint event:  Focus on Ireland and the Women Who Call the Shots at NYU.  With March being Women’s History Month and also Irish American Heritage month, it is a perfect time to shine a spotlight on Ireland and women who create stories for multiple screens worldwide.  Maura explained that is the past 5 years Ireland has played host to a number of very successful international TV dramas – from Games of Thrones, The Tudors, The Borgias to the new Vikings on the History Channel – and women are making it happen.  At the same time, Irish and Irish American talent continue to create compelling projects for screens worldwide.  The esteemed panel of women will discuss how they do it and the role Ireland plays.  To register, go to the EVENT section at  The special member rate is $15.00.

Chris Bradley’s first presentation for the IAW&A was an essay that illustrated his desire to find “his voice.”  Chris’s reading was a celebration of finding his way to the Salon — a room filled with a symphony of voices — and connecting with one of his literary idols, Malachy McCourt, “The Maestro,” who gave the directive “Your voice will find you.”  “Thank you, Malachy.”

Mike Farragher read Off Kilter, a ribald take of his very first experience wearing a kilt. It’s a passage from his brand new book; This is Your Brain on Shamrocks 2: 50 Shades o’ Green, available on  Mike will also be joining fellow IAW&A author Honor Molloy for an evening of rocking and reading with Brendan O’Shea and the Lost Tribes of Donegal on Tuesday, March 5 at the Irish Repertory Theater (131 W. 22nd St. at  He also runs the New Jersey chapter of The Salon, which is held in Morristown.  Anyone who is interested in presenting or performing there can contact him through

Stephanie Silber showed an excerpt from a film, The Story So Far, which combined interviews with Larry Kirwan and band members from Black 47 along with those of devoted fans of the band; performance footage; and clips from the band’s televised appearances.  Many of the interviews were gathered during a riotous and unforgettable Black 47 tour of Ireland accompanied by three busloads of fans.  The film evolved out of a happy and ongoing collaboration between the band and Home Team Productions, helmed by Stephanie and her partner, the filmmaker and editor, Vic Zimet.

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell


John Kearns was thrilled to have two short pieces performed by the accomplished actor, Jack O’Connell.  The first was a monologue called, “The Surf Fisherman/Poet” about an angler’s casting his line into the sea as a poet casts into the unknown for inspiration.  The second was a poem called, “The First Little Fish of the Morning,” about a small fish caught under the roughest, unlikeliest conditions.

Seamus Scanlon read “On Her Birthday,” the last story from his collection, As Close As You’ll Ever Be.  “On Her Birthday” was shortlisted for a Hennessy Award in 2009.  The Library Journal starred review said “This collection is an ode to human truth found in violent desperation.  Highly recommended.”

Seamus Scanlon

Seamus Scanlon

Marni Rice performed 3 of her original songs (voice & accordion). While living in Paris she performed mostly old French songs on the streets and in cabarets. However, when she moved to NYC, she started composing her own songs inspired by poetry and music heard in Irish Bars.

Marni Rice

Marni Rice

Pat Fenton read from his play on Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, which is called Jack’s Last Call, Say Goodbye to Kerouac.  It was a scene from Kerouac’s last night in Northport Long Island as he gets ready to leave the east forever, and move with his mother to St Petersburg Florida.  On this last night at the end of a small farewell party, his old On the Road days come back to him as he reflects back on his young years driving across America with his buddy Neal Cassady.  The play has been released as a public radio drama available on CD, and has been nominated for an Audio Award.

Tom Mahon read one entry called, “Emmett Garrity” from a larger work, The Wide Valley.  Emmett is the youngest son of Dan Garrity who had to flee Ireland with his wife and two small children.  After a difficult start in the New World, he prospers and stakes his children to farms to set them up.  His youngest has imagination and confidence the others don’t and go on to become a lawyer, then a politician, but when he fail at winning the governorship, he caves and moves to Paris and becomes a dandy in an enclave of exiles all hiding from something.  Emmett becomes the best of the false, pretentious lot and lives a life of illusion.

Singer/songwriter Tara O’Grady and musician Russell Brown treated us to a familiar song performed in a new style.  Tara will be recording her new album A Celt in the Cotton Club in a few short weeks, and performed one of the tracks, “Too Ra Loo Ra – An Irish Lullaby,” as a blues, with Russell on piano.  Initially the piece was supposed to be performed with Russell on harp, but the improv on piano was a delightful surprise, to both the audience and Tara.

Salon regular Guen Donohue then commandeered the spirit of our absent “Maestro” — Malachy McCourt — by regaling the audience with an unscripted wild childhood tale fully loaded with wit and imagery involving her Grandma Bridget, her brother, and a suspicious looking plant that was growing in their new upstate yard.  Having produced waves of bellylaughs from the audience, Guen happily confessed that this was her debut as a “raconteur,” and did a wonderful job in closing the evening’s festivities by leading the crowd in singing a rousing rendition of “Here’s a Health.

And finally, one for the road… “Speak your mind, even though your voice shakes.”

― Maggie Kuhn

larry-stephanie mark-mike-farragher

See you next time!   (Salon at Bar Thalia, Tues., Mar. 5)

mark-rachel marni jack oconnell michelle-tom-mahon


B&W photos by Mark Butler, color by John Kearns

November 15, 2012

SRO for IAW&A Salon at the Thalia!

Filed under: Events,Film,Music,Television,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 1:37 pm
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by Charles R. Hale
One of the outgrowths and benefits of  the Irish American Writers & Artists’ salons has been an increasing number of collaborative efforts among its members.  Before a jam-packed, standing-room-only crowd at the Thalia Cafe, four members–two writers and two singers–provided perfect examples of this trend. 
Sarah Fearon
Inspired by a New York Times story about the Brooklyn apartment where she grew up, Karen Daly presented an evocative tribute to her grandmother, which brought tears to the eyes of at least one man in the room.  In “Mama’s Window,” she pictured her grandmother keeping watch on her from a building on Lincoln Place, and showed how the little girl would come to resemble her grandmother in so many ways.
Knowing the barest facts about the O’Connor family of Rector Street, New York, Karen wonders how their daughter became a woman of such dignity and fierce resolve. Like many Irish family stories, theirs had sadness and secrets and great love.
Karen movingly described her grandparents’ marriage and her grandmother’s desolation at her husband’s death. The emotion was perfectly expressed when singer Jack Di Monte surprised the room with a beautiful rendition of Irving Berlin’s “When I Lost You.” This seamless collaboration resulted from a chat at the prior salon. This was Jack’s first performance at a salon, but we learned that he sings at the Thalia on Monday nights.  We look forward to hearing more of Jack’s great voice, and more about Karen’s family.
We’ve heard Maura Mulligan read passages from her engaging memoir, Call of the Lark. Maura showed her true roots as a storyteller when she stood and recounted the night she left her home in County Mayo for America She movingly evoked the Ireland of her childhood in images of the turf fire, the boxty and butter-making. 
Maura Mulligan
When the neighbors come to bid farewell, they take turns churning the butter, a custom said to bring good luck to all in her thatched cottage.  Maura wonders  “Would that include me as well since I was to leave the following morning”?  Through the kitchen window young Maura sees “the rising of the full May moon as it climbs over the hill near the Well Field, where the fairy bush stands alone.”
Member Kathy Callahan said, “While listening to Maura tell her story I became so totally immersed in the rhythm of her voice and visual imagery that I lost track of time and place.”
John Kearns read two poems based on poetic passages in his novel-in-progress, Worlds. The first, “From the Brooklyn Bridge,” is a meditation upon immigration and on similarities between the Brooklyn Bridge and other sites in the New World to sacred sites in the ancient Celtic world.  In the second, “Seamus Logan’s Passage to the New World,” Seamus is in steerage between the Old World and the New World, telling a story of his wanderings through Mayo and Connemara and his other worldly vision of an abandoned village’s coming to life and being destroyed by the Great Hunger. 
Sarah Fearon work-shopped some new comedy material. Some of her ideas included, dealing with the beginning of the end of the world, and getting old.  Sarah also riffed on thinking outside the box before we wind up inside the box, the theory on identifying if you’re economically one of the 99% or 1%, and a new discovery revealed from Jesus’ shroud which seems to be examined far too often, which suggests that God was originally from New York. And my favorite, Sarah wondered why doctors ask us “What are we doing here today?” From the crowd’s response a good percentage of Sarah’s material is worth developing.
Guenevere Donohue
“This is for you all, an artist’s voice, but really a writer’s voice.” Playwright, actress and singer, Guenevere Donohue gave the Writers & Artists a vocal gift, a soulful sweet song, an original composition of melody to Charles Bukowski’s poem, “Bluebird.”  Guen’s open-hearted, tender take on the infamous Charles B was a great way to end the first half of the evening.
Jim Rodgers read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End. His protagonist, Johnny Gunn, stands at his friend Jimmy’s wake at Lynch’s funeral parlor and the reader is brought into Johnny’s private thoughts– thoughts filled with sadness, bitterness, and rage at his friend’s tragic death. At the same time, we witness the characters of the story being weaved into the scene, highlighting the incomprehensible loss to Jimmy’s wife, Sunnyside, and his fellow New York City firemen. A strong and visceral end to Jimmy’s battle with the demons who had haunted him since that sunny day. 
Our thoughts went to the victims of hurricane Sandy when Maureen Hossbacher read a poignant excerpt from her novel-in-progress, The Grand March.  The excerpt, set in Rockaway Beach of the 1950’s, at the end of summer, after a hurricane,   introduced us to Nance Moran,  a young girl wrangling with the dissonance between sexuality and Catholicism. No doubt many in the captivated audience could relate to similar childhood awakenings and dilemmas. 
Malachy McCourt
Popular salon presenter, Tom Mahon, read a section of a children’s short story about a horse and a boy in upstate NY. The boy is out riding and discovers two hunters in his family’s woods, and boldly but cleverly gets them to leave. While raising his son, Tom discovered the shortage of good stories for boys that does not exist for girls. Tom mentioned that he’d like to work on remedying that shortage. 
Malachy McCourt closed the evening with a personal essay that dealt with the damage death does to familial relations and how death arouses sub-conscious anger toward the deceased. “We have no recourse or ability to settle matters when some one buggers off and dies leaving stuff undone,” Malachy said.  Fittingly, Malachy ended the evening with a song ” Isn’t it Grand Boys to be Bloody Well Dead”  After the applause and cheers subsided, Malachy called out “Great night !” And it was. 
For more about the Irish American Artists and Writers contact Charles R. Hale at

August 15, 2012

“Hard Times” in Video

Filed under: Events,Film,Television,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:35 pm
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“Hard Times” is a soulful musical of clashing Irish and Afro-American cultures, written by Irish American Writers and Artist’s director Larry Kirwan, also the lead singer of the band Black 47.
Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster’s songs, Larry conjures the creation of tap dance and explores the troubled life of the “father of American Music” against the backdrop of New York City’s Civil War draft riots.
Charles R. Hale created a short video highlighting the music and photos of that troubling time

August 10, 2012

Bar Thalia Packed for August Salon

Filed under: Events,Literature,Television — by johnleemedia @ 3:50 pm

by Charles Hale

Every seat was taken at Tuesday night’s Thalia Café for a special evening of the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon series. Over the past year it had become evident that there were a number of members who are writers, some published, some unpublished, whom, for one reason or the other, hadn’t presented at a salon. Perhaps some were reluctant or slightly intimidated by the high level of talent that frequents the salons, others might have felt a little nervous presenting their own work before a group and then there were those who just needed a little shove. A few weeks ago we announced that this past Tuesday’s salon would be dedicated to first time presenters. Seven of the evening’s twelve presenters heeded the call. And what a great night it was. As emcee and an audience member I was delighted to hear one fine reading after another. The level of writing was quite high and if there were cases of the jitters, I didn’t notice.

Jim Rodgers
Jim Rodgers who has been reading from his novel Long Night’s End, led off the evening. The scene began with Johnny Gunn and his over-the-hill rock band playing for the “kids” on the Lower East Side and finishing back in Sunnyside in the early hours of the morning. There, Johnny’s childhood friend, Jimmy, begins to crash as the raw memories of the sunny day, his fire brigade, and his own personal loss finally overwhelm him. Johnny and his friends circle the wagons and vow to keep the demons from snatching Jimmy away. The scene suggests that the struggle between those demons and the boys of Sunnyside will reach titanic proportions.

Mary Carroll

Two first time readers followed Jim. Peter McDermott, Associate Editor and columnist for the Irish Echo, whose fine writing many of us follow each week, read a wonderful extract from “The Sisters,” the first story in Joyce’s Dubliners, (1914). An earlier version of the short story was published in the Irish Homestead Journal on Aug. 13, 1904. 


Mary Carroll was next up, recalling her days as an actor through the eyes of an old red plush theatre seat, which carried with it from Broadway to a regional theatre some of the great moments of American theatre history, thus the title of her work “Aisle 2, H4, Orchestra.” The work focused on a rehearsal period for Carson McCullers’ The Member Of The Wedding, which was particularly fractious, at least from the “eyes” of H4. Well read with a “voice made for radio.”

John Kearns
Multi-talented John Kearns, who has presented at many salons, read two love poems, “I Would Have” and “A Presence Like Absinthe“ (in Write On Maui ezine) followed by a poem about the relationship between the artist and audience, “Intheternal Frenzy.” He concluded with “Aboard The Aran Searbird: Leaving Inishmore” (in Feile-Festa Literary Arts Journal) a poem about departing by boat from the largest of the Aran Islands. John will be attending his cousin’s wedding in Mayo next week and will doubtless be scribbling something during his travels.

Mary Lannon

First time reader Mary Lannon read from her novel-in-progress, An 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. (I’m not making up that title.) The audience responded with laughter to this twist on the coming-of-age tale that recounts a young mad scientist’s journey through her Irish Catholic upbringing in small town America.

Guenevere Donohue closed out the first half of the evening performing monologues from two different characters of her play, The Poecock. Set at an Asylum in Wales in 1921, and based on the accounts of Guen’s grandmother Bridget Shea, the story chronicles a difficult friendship between an English patient and her nurse struggling to survive horrendous conditions for both the committed, and the Celt support staff. As always, Guenevere’s skill as an actor were so apt to the task and heart of her words.

After an intermission that was filled with conversation and laughter, five first-time presenters followed: Karen Daly read a crisp, true story called “Sister Marlene” (emphatically not about a nun) in which the appearance of a mysterious woman disturbs the relaxed mood of a writing class. Karen noted her great interest is in New York City Irish history, and is currently researching the 2013 edition of her self-published Irish American Images Calendar. (The beautiful 2012 edition hangs on the wall next to my desk.)

Michele Cetera, an oncology nurse and writer, presented a short story “Hectic Day.’’ Her story tells of a woman who thinks of her breast cancer as an “inconvenience” and how she and her husband come to terms with her illness. This is an insightful story, dealing with the thoughts of a nurse, a patient and a spouse who are dealing with cancer. It also touches on how, occasionally, we get caught up in our own busy lives and “inconveniences” and fail to appreciate the gift of “the everyday.” A compelling read.

The evening’s next reader was Philomena Forde. Introducing Phil, I suggested that she must be a confident writer. Who else would write about a memoir of a childhood in Limerick given the McCourt brothers’ propensity for such a thing? But Phil, who said she felt a bit intimidated by the “wonderful quality of presentations, fantastic writers and readers,” was marvelous reading from her book The Lost Blue Shoe.
The final first-timers were Lori Messing McGarry and Ian Bateson. Lori read from her novel-in-progress “Sacred Smoke“, a story about the plight of a young Roma Gypsy girl in contemporary Greece. The balance between Western ideals and ancient traditions was presented in a dramatic scene with an Orthodox Priest and a Gypsy Fortune Teller who struggle against prejudices to protect the girl. Ian followed with a witty story about an apartment-hunting ordeal in New York City. What New Yorker wouldn’t relate to this humorous tale of woe?

Tom Mahon, a frequent salon presenter, followed with another real estate story, “For Sale by Owner.” In Tom’s story, a woman who is attempting to sell her home to a woman who reminds her of her younger self, relives an experience of a past betrayal. As much as she needs to sell the house, she doesn’t want that woman to buy it and experience the degrading betrayal that she has. As always, very well read and well received.

Great night filled with fine readings and lots of buzz. Salons are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month. The next salon will be at The Cell, 338 W23rd, August 21, 7PM. For more information on the salon or joining the Irish American Writers and Artists contact Charles Hale

July 23, 2012

Salon at The Cell this Tuesday!

The Irish American Writers & Artists’ popular Salon at The Cell will happen a bit later in the month that usual, this Tues., July 24, starting at 7 PM.  On tap, a reading from a novel in progress, a trial run of a scene from a play, an off beat video, a traditional Irish song…who knows?  You have to show up to find out at this FREE fun event.

To return to IAW&A website, click here:

July 14, 2012

Change in Regular Salon at The Cell Schedule–Next Salon, July 24

The date for the next Salon at the Cell has been CHANGED. The  Salon that had been scheduled for Tues., July 17 will instead be held on Tues., July 24 at 7 pm.

Looking forward to seeing everyone then!

July 7, 2012

Cool & Convivial July Salon at Bar Thalia

Day after the big holiday,  sweltering summer night and a shift in date for the Salon, and still they came…new members too! 
It was a wonderful night at last night’s Irish American Writers & Aritsts’ salon at the Thalia Cafe. Best selling author and new member Jeanine Cummins joined us and mentioned she plans to read from her novel in progress at The Cell on July 17th.  Singer-songwriter Tara O’Grady closed the eveing with a song she wrote called “Goodnight Nora,” off her second album, Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.  And photographer Cat Dwyer photos capture the relaxed and convivial atmosphere of Thursday’s salon. 
Mary Gannon began the evening presenting a creative non-fiction piece on a Memorial Day visit to New York’s Tenement museum.  A poignant tribute to 19th century Irish immigrants and their plight, combined with a reflection on her own immigrant childhood.  Mary announced that she plans an essay collection on immigrants, both past and present.
John Kearns read an excerpt from Worlds, his novel in progress about four generations of the Logan family. In the excerpt, Janey Logan, nee Dougherty, reminisces about the night in the late 1950s on which she met James Logan, the man she would later marry, at a traditional Irish music session in West Philadelphia. John announced that his poem, “Transmigration of Soul,” appears in the current issue of the North American Review, published July 1st. 
Jim Rodgers returned and read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End. Johnny Gunn, having been thrown out of his home for his drinking and now living in a flophouse on the Lower East Side, is confronted by his wife Rose about his affair with Molly Farrell– an affair all the more evident as Molly is eight months pregnant. After hearing the truth, Rose, with her heart broken and her Irish up, leaves Johnny to his drinking, his demons, and his continuing spiral into his own private hell. Jim assures us that there will be redemption for Johnny, but where it will come from is anybody’s guess. Terrific writing.
Jim Callaghan presented an essay that dealt with his sometimes humorous, at other times sad views on labor unions, including his own experience in 1966 when he was instructed by his colleagues at the Post Office not to work so fast. He concludes that bad behavior by some union leaders and occasional featherbedding can’t hold a candle to the trillions of dollars stolen in America’s history by oil companies, the Robber Barons, banks, health insurers, some Wall Street operatives and baseball owners.
IAW&A board member John Lee, who last presented about a year ago when he read a blogpost off his cell phone, printed out his copy this time, reading a theater review he wrote for New York Irish Arts that also appeared in Huffington Post. In “Who Speaks for Ireland? Rebel Voices Have Their Say”, Lee gave the double bill of Blood by Larry Kirwan and Dancing at Lunacy by Seamus Scanlon a spirited “Two Thumbs Up” (or should that be “Four Thumbs Up” as it was a double bill?).  Lee gave kudos to  actor Paul Nugent, who starred in both plays, for his performance in Dancing with Lunacy where he crafted “an indelibly rendered character named McGowan, an offbeat wiseass, fuelled by manic energy and freshly brewed tea, a pop music-loving, gun-toting, Clockwork Orange-caliber sociopath for the Republican cause.”
Kate McLeod performed a character study in the form of a letter from 14-year old Abby to her friend Love who is in a State Hospital.  In the letter we learn that her much older boyfriend has been put away for possession of 120 kilos of marijuana and that her mother is an alcoholic. We learn how humiliated and traumatized Abby was when her mother would jump on her with public demands to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”  “I would’ve said thank you by myself,” says Abby.  And lastly we learn that Abby would rather be in the state hospital with Love than at home because her father has slept in the same bed with her since she was eight.  A poignant work.
When she was fifteen, Maura Mulligan served pints in a pub in Mayo. Reading from her powerful new memoir, Call of the Lark, Maura beautifully shared the rich conversation of Kilkelly cattle dealers and the gossip she overheard in the snug. Maura will begin a book tour of Ireland next week. 
Tom Mahon, a wonderful reader who possesses a very fine voice, read the second half of a short story of a girl who preservers in the face of great adversity at a young age in 1951. Instead of giving into despair, as is the case so often today, this girl has the difficulties she encounters empower to become educated so she can be in a position to help others, and be effective in changing young girls’ lives. 
Essay and memoir are the forms that most interest me as a writer,” said new IAW&A member Ed McCann.  Last night Ed read “Big Sister,” a chapter about sibling love — and tyranny — from his recently completed memoir.   Ed, a native of both Queens and Brooklyn, is a former television writer/producer and a contributing editor for Country Living magazine.
Kathleen Frazier read from her provocative work-in-progress, Somniloquies: a memoir of sleepwalking. Actress-turned-writer, Kathleen chose a shorter piece of prose and reeled us in with her riveting pacing.  Kathleen’s currently working on the book proposal for her memoir after a successful essay on sleepwalking in the April issue of Psychology Today. A powerful performance by a talented writer and reader.  
Join us for the next salon at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd Street, 7PM on July 17th. For more info on joining the IAW&A or the salons contact Charles R. Hale at

June 22, 2012

The Gift of Connection (VIDEO)

Filed under: Film,Literature,Television,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 3:40 pm
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At Tuesday’s Salon at The Cell IAW&A member Charles Hale debuted his short film, The Gift of Connection, which details a family visit to Castleblayney, Ireland, the town from which his great grandfather emigrated. Not long after Hale and his family arrived in Castleblayney they discovered their ancestral home. His mother, however, discovered much more, a link, a connection between her father, her grandfather and Ireland.
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