Irish American Writers & Artists

January 12, 2018

1.5.18 IAW&A Salon: A Rollicking Night Undeterred by Bomb Cyclone

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 12:45 am

by John Kearns
Photos by John Kearns and Tom Mahon

The IAW&A Salon began 2018 undaunted by a last-minute schedule change, large piles of snow on the sidewalks, and the frigid temperatures brought on by a “bomb cyclone”.  But in the words of presenter Tom Mahon, “We turned a quiet, freezing evening into another rollicking night of story, song and drumming.”


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon started the salon with two vignettes.  The first was called, “I’ve Had Enough,” about a young intern’s first ER patient who dies before he can save him.  Then the man’s family arrives, and then his lawyers.  Altogether four wives and fourteen children, who all howl when they discover their former rich husband and father left them nothing.  The second story was called, “Before He Left,” of a vet whose reentry into his family and community goes awry when a bar patron’s shouting sends him into survival mode and he reacts and kills the man.  A week later the vet kills himself. The story, told from the father-in-law’s point of view asks after burying his son-in-law, “How did we expect him to do all he had to on his own?”


Rob Block

First-time presenter Rob Block’s  ‘Beyababa’ was written as a choral oratorio though decidedly secular – not a bit churchy. The story concerns the interior conflict of a king who’s nation is in peril of losing to drought it’s only crop: “beyababa.”  None of the advice or direction he receives from those around him seems useful or sound. What is a King to do? Rob sends all possible praise and thanks to Rosina Fernhoff for her magnificent interpretation of his work.


Rosina  Fernhoff

Rosina  Fernhoff then performed a monologue from Approaching Zanzibar by Tina Howe.  The very old character Olivia recounts her memory monologue of her wild youth and her unforgettable first love who ” taught her to eat orchids and read the stars” in Zanzibar.


Eddie Crawford

John Kearns was honored to have actor Eddie Crawford read an excerpt from his story, “Displacement.”  Eddie vividly portrayed the musings of 1940s Detective Raftery who tries to imagine himself in the place of a murderer, since it has proven difficult to get any information in his Irish-American neighborhood.  “Only way to shut the Irish up is come in with a badge and ask a question.”


Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert began with two poems written on the first and second day of the New Year and followed them with a singles bar proposal and a poem about acceptance of the
physical limitations that come with age.  He concluded with a “Winter Spell” of protection for his father’s land, written twenty years ago when the land was still his father’s.


Sarah Fearon acted as an understudy for Marcia Sanders (aka Marcia Loughran).  Sarah read new material on a character who moves through the real estate world in New York.


Kathleen O’Sullivan presented a chapter from her illustrated memoir, Isham Street, in iMovie form.  In this chapter, the innocent child in a spiritual euphoria sees life from her unique perspective, in which walking up Isham Street feels like she’s going on a pilgrimage to heaven.  With her angel by her side, the girl goes through her Saturday ritual that includes the butcher’s offering her a slice of baloney and the baker’s giving her the bread ends, while people are blessing themselves all over Broadway … returning home to her lyrical mother & the family feasting on baloney sandwiches.

kathleen OKathleen O’Sullivan (photo by Tom Mahon)


Malachy McCourt (photo by Tom Mahon)

Malachy McCourt shared some of his thoughts on religion and the afterlife and read part of the description of hell from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  He then sang, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle and wrapped up the salon with a rousing rendition of “The Bells of Hell”:

“The bells of Hell
Go jing-aling-aling
For you but not for me …”

After Malachy’s performance, the salon had a surprise guest recruited by Tom Mahon from the subway in Washington Heights — djembe drummer Matt Sweet!  Matt plans to return to the IAW&A Salon with more drums!


Matt Sweet (photo by Tom Mahon)

Don’t forget out Civil Rights Salon at the Cell on Monday at 7.  Reserve your free ticket here:


December 27, 2017

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

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

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

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

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

catseyepix-0591_Brown Rebekah Madebach

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

catseyepix-0608_preview Rosina .jpg Rosina Fernhoff

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

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

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

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

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

Darrah Carr Dance.  Soloist Trent Kowalik 

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

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

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

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Maria Deasy, John Keating.  Photo by Dan Brown.

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

Mary Pat Kelly, Shirah on screen

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

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

 break.jpgEnjoying the break

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

catseyepix-0813_preview niall 2Niall O’Leary

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


December 11, 2017

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

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

By Karen Daly

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

brendan booth

Brendan Costello. Photo by Christopher Booth.

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

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

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

Tara by Tara.jpg

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

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




Jonathan Goldman.  Photo by Dana Cotton.

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

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

Honor Molly. Photo by Dana Cotton.

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

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

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

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

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


Gerry Maguire.  Photo by Dana Cotton.

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

mccourts .jpg

Mark McCourt, Siobhan McCourt. Photo by Dana Cotton.

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






December 1, 2017


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

By Maureen Hossbacher

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

k hill .jpg

Kathleen Hill.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

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

mpk and kh .jpg

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Darrah Carr Dancers.  Photo by Darrah Carr.


November 7, 2017

11.2.17 IAW&A Salon: “It’s Gonna Be All Right” & Sketches from a Memorable Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:16 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert Jr.

The early November IAW&A Salon, a mix of monologues, fiction, poetry and song, featured three first time presenters in the private Studio at Bar Thalia. Adding to the enjoyment, the Belfast artist Brian John Spencer delighted participants with his remarkable portraits.

Brian John Spencer, Karen Daly with Brian’s handmade sign

First on the program, Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence read from her novel in progress about a family dealing with an aging matriarch. And it’s sharply funny, as you can tell from its working title O The Places Mom Went!  Visiting her mother in the hospital, the narrator Clare challenges the nonagenarian’s delusion that she’s just had a baby: “Mom!  Mama! You had your last baby fifty years ago.” Leaving the hospital, Clare receives an impertinent offer from a sexy maintenance worker twenty years her junior. After a long sad day with Mom, Needy Clare considers it. But does Wise Clare prevail? Kathleen says: Stay tuned!  

Tennessee Williams admits to spying on his parents and sister, “the family he was damned and blessed with” in this fine portrayal of the playwright’s last days by actor/writer D.J. Sharp. D.J. was just nominated for Best Supporting Actor (World Music & Independent Film Festival) for his role in The Watchtower, which he calls “an Irish story of love and survival in Manhattan’s notorious Hell’s Kitchen.

Kathleen Lawrence, D.J. Sharp

Thom Molyneaux performed a selection from a solo show he’s developing, Me and the Monologue. Tonight he gave us “Bernie and the Britches by the North Carolina author and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green. It’s a low-key, charming Southern tale of love, betrayal and money, in which the good guy wins, sort of

A distinguished visitor from California, poet Linda Norton read a lyric essay “The Soul Must Stay Where It Is” as well as a section from her “Brooklyn Journals.” From her book The Public Gardens: Poems and History, Linda chose “Patterns to Arans” about those iconic sweaters (and islands).

Green from the mosses, brown

from the seaweed, grey and cream

color from the stones and pebbles

Read more about Linda, and the poem in its entirety at

Thom Molyneaux, Linda Norton

Native New Yorker Karen Bermann has been writing and drawing all of her life and she teaches architecture. In her Salon debut, she painted a vivid portrait, in words and illustrations, of her late father, a postwar Jewish émigré from Vienna.

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Karen Bermann.  Her illustration can be seen on the screen.

John Munnelly brought three new songs to the Salon. He composed “Automatic Fire” to help process and respond artistically to the shooting of concertgoers in Las Vegas. “It Was A Long Time Ago” reminisces about past relationships which still have meaning. And by popular demand, John reprised his hopeful song for these fraught times, “It’s Gonna Be All Right.”

In a short, but stunning piece, Rosina Fernhoff performed a monologue from Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer. As Grace, the wife of the charismatic, egomaniacal faith healer, she reveals the effects of his behavior on her life.

John Munnelly, Rosina Fernhoff
“Accidental Murder,” Tom Mahon’s dramatic story, tells of gun horror. A drunken man finally extracts revenge on his better educated, harder working and far smarter brother-in-law. Watching the Super Bowl together, he takes out a shotgun, and in the ensuing struggle, kills the better man, who leaves a seven-year-old son.

‪A welcome new member, playwright and poet Jim Cullinane read his very short story “Wilma” and an inspirational essay “Why I Write.” After working and raising a family, Jim got an M.A in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College, and has written two books, including a memoir of growing up in Ireland, Arses & Elbows. More at

Tom Mahon, left. Jim Cullinane

Salon producer and tonight’s host John Kearns read an excerpt from his multigenerational novel, Worlds. His character Seamus Logan has a vision of a now abandoned Connemara village as it was transformed and devastated by the Great Hunger. In this moving excerpt, an old widow is evicted from her home.

The grand master, Salon godfather Malachy McCourt praised the power of storytelling, comparing the voice to a pen or brush that paints a picture. And he noted how the Irish “injected life and poetry and ecstasy into the English language.” To make his point, he told a hilarious anecdote about Daniel O’Connell and a fishwife who murdered the language. Malachy ended the night with the song “Come Back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff.”

John Kearns, left. Malachy McCourt

See you next time, November 21, 7 p.m. at the cell for a Salon and book launch for Kathleen Hill’s She Read to Us in the Late Afternoon.




October 30, 2017

10.26.17 IAWA Salon: High-Energy Night Goes from Hip Hop to Broadway and to Memory, Ghosts & Love Stories

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:38 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

The house was packed for the late-October Salon at the Cell, and full of the energy and excitement generated by our O’Neill Award earlier in the month. One of our presenters  appreciated  “an especially warm and loving crowd.”  Salon producer John Kearns hosted an eclectic night, while Belfast artist Brian John  Spencer sketched remarkable portraits. The music ranged from hip hop to Broadway, and the range of theater, memoir and fiction pieces included love stories, ghosts, a vampire and some folks with murderous intent.

Journalist/playwright Pat Fenton read “The Ghosts of Coney Island,” a memory piece about his father who came from from Galway, Ireland and went to Coney Island every winter to be near the sea. Pat wanted to capture the haunting quality of Coney Island in the dead of winter. And he did, with this tender memorial. In January, Pat’s play Stoopdreamer will have a three day run in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, near Farrell’s Bar where the play takes place. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

fenton .jpgPat Fenton

New York actress Tara Steinberg wowed the crowd performing “Six Minutes to Life,” a monologue set to music that captures the colors and textures of emotion throughout the lifespan. Rockaway Beach resident Dan Brown wrote and directed the piece.

tara .jpgTara Steinberg

Pat Lavin shared the “coming of age” love story of her daughter and her boyfriend who have neurological issues. While visiting Pat’s tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side, they demand their right to “sleep” together.” And Pat had a clever accommodation. In her funny and tender telling, she showed how through loving each other, the couple learn to love and accept themselves. Pat, a writer, playwright and poet, is a certified hypnotherapist and life coach who helps artists deal with stress and creative access.

lavin Pat Lavin

Maura Mulligan tapped two excellent actors, Jack DiMonte and Dee Nolan for scenes from her play in progress, Cursed, set around the 2016 election. Jack’s character is dutifully leading a meeting at the United Federation of Teachers when a ghost appears and persuades him to mix a magical potion to stop Trump from winning. Instead, the character drinks the poitín intended for the potion and we know how the election went. Maura, author of the memoir Call of the Lark, plans more mayhem ahead when The President gets a visitor “from beyond the veil.”

Maura Mulligan, left. Jack DiMonte, Dee Nolan

Rory K, the charismatic young hip hop artist, switched up the night’s tempo with his lively performance of two songs. In Rory’s track, “Suitcase,” a man is leaving a broken home in Ireland for a new life in New York City. With his remix of Ed Sheeran’s smash hit “Shape of You,” he had ‘em dancing.

Two views of Rory K

Two old friends gleefully share lots, one might say too much, information, as one patient husband (Tom Mahon) waits in the background. Maureen Hossbacher and Sheila Walsh are delightful as the friends in “How Sam Touched The Glass.” Sheila’s one-act play, part of her Evening of 8 One-Acts, tells of a night with playwright Sam Shepard.

sheila 's .jpgSheila Walsh, Maureen Hossbacher, Tom Mahon

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. gamely got into the Halloween spirit in costume and in content. Noting, “even vampires write poems,” he read a short poem in the person of a vampire residing in New Orleans. Gordon read a short story that’s to be included in a novel about an East Village vampire who has an unusual relationship with a young woman.

gordon .jpgGilbert Gordon, Jr.

Shaun Coen, an award-winning playwright, columnist and feature writer, had a great Salon debut reading from his first novel, The Pot O ‘Gold Murder. A comical thriller set in the tight-knit Irish enclave of Woodlawn, The Bronx, it features a hard-living woman detective who investigates the murder of a popular Irish bartender with whom she once had an affair. Shaun thinks it may be the only novel set in Woodlawn. Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver says “A great thriller! Coen brings into vivid focus not only his characters but also an entire neighborhood. You’ll read this in one sitting— guaranteed!”

shaun .jpgShaun Coen

In Derek Murphy’s wickedly funny play “Dyin’ For It,” the Kelly women, played by Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan and Aoife Williamson, plan to speed up the death of their evil patriarch. They practice the art of murder on an innocent head of cabbage. As they head upstairs, the playwright suggests that events will not go as planned for these women.

derek's .jpgleft,  Aiofe Williamson, Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan

We’ve seen Brandon Grimes in Mark Butler’s Ugly Christmas Sweater, The Musical and tonight we heard Brandon introduce his own original composition. Accompanied on piano by Michael Starr, the striking baritone  also sang “The Impossible Dream,” dedicating it to all the artists. A fine way to end a night full of such artistic variety.

brandon .jpgBrandon Grimes at the mic

Catch the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, November 2 at 7 p.m.



October 10, 2017

10.5.17 IAW&A Salon: Thrilling Night, Full of Passion, Compassion & Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:09 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A grateful audience member described the early October IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia as: “a thrilling evening of artistry, passion, jollity and excitement. It was ALIVE! Inclusive! Welcoming!”

We agree wholeheartedly. It was the perfect mix of talents and genres, with outstanding work by members and two special guests, one an artist/musician from China, who brought his film crew; the other a charismatic jazz singer who brought her back-up dancers.

Poet and author John Brennan read poems inspired by his travels: “Valleys and Dust” about the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and “Canyons and Dust” which recounts his time in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Next came his gorgeous tribute to Yeats “The Night Moths,” read in John’s fine Armagh voice.

John Brennan, left.  Thom Molyneaux

Salon regular Thom Molyneaux read from the great Irish playwright John B. Keane’s Letters of a Country Postman. In a charming Irish accent, Thom portrayed the postman writing to his friend Hammish Mac Shamus to describe the powerful aphrodisiac qualities of wearing a uniform. “You could be a film star and escape without notice but pull on a postman’s uniform and you were a target for every sex-starved damsel in the district.”

Salongoers paid rapt attention to Kathleen Vaughan’s story “Christmas Daddy” from her memoir-in-progress. Born in County Cork, Kate lost her mother at the tender age of 4 and landed in a Catholic orphanage in the Bronx. Hence, the book’s title, Raised by Nuns and Drunks.

catseyepix-0761 kate v Kate Vaughn

Versatile singer/songwriter Aiesha Dukes sang two songs, “Need You” and an a cappella “Lush Life,” accompanied by the dancers from her band, Miss Dukes Music, which she formed this year. Aiesha has been performing in the well reviewed Me The People: The Trump America Musical. Look for Miss Dukes Music on Facebook and at

catseyepix-0074_preview Dukes 2 Aeisha Dukes

Our guest Zhenggeng Ding, visiting from Sichuan Province, China is a poet, calligrapher, painter and accordion player. He played a virtuoso solo and through the kind translation of Daisy Kearns,explained that his composition was a tribute to a late friend, who will always be in his heart.

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Zhenggeng Ding, playing the accordion.
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Daisy Kearns, Zhenggeng Ding.

In Tom Mahon’s story called “Mistaken,” a young boy took a five-dollar bill from under his grandfather’s Christmas tree. When they got home, his father beat him with his belt to curb his son’s childish impulses, damaging the bright, vivacious boy. “Something happened to my brother that night,” his older sister says.  “Something broke inside him, and stayed broken.” Told with Tom’s usual verve.

catseyepix-0155_preview tomTom Mahon

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a newly polished episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds. In it, Seamus Logan, now a Philadelphia construction magnate, looks back on an afternoon spent near Bunowen, County Mayo with his beloved Mary. They had run away from the eyes of their small town to secluded cliffs by the beach. When the young couple’s passion had threatened to take things too far, Seamus stopped them. The older Seamus wonders if he had made the right decision and if Mary had been disappointed in him.

John Kearns, left.  Brent Shearer

Agent provocateur Brent Shearer read a satire about having to kick the Irish members out of the IAW&A. Despite giving what he calls “another superlative performance,” he was surprised that nobody got his joke about dumping ashes in the municipal pool in his ancestral town of Kilcrohane.

catseyepix-0167_preview MM

Samhain, the Celtic new year, and forerunner of Halloween is coming up October 31st, Maura Mulligan, pictured at left, reminded us. It’s “the time of year when the earth rests” and the thin veil between this world and the “other world” allows easy passage between them. Maura read an account of a Samhain celebration when ghosts seemed to be out to get her, and invited Salon guests to a Samhain celebration on October 31, with a theme of Immigration. If you are interested in attending and sharing a story about an immigrant who deserves to be remembered for his/her contribution to America, (and also contribute to a worthy cause, The Dwelling Place of New York), contact for details and start planning your costume.

In a powerful dramatic selection from To The Sea, a solo performance she’s developing, Guenevere Donohue told the story of her first trip to the beach. Followed by her rendition of the Kurt Weill song Pirate Jenny, Guen turned in a brilliant performance.

catseyepix-0179_preview guen 2

Guenevere Donohue

Malachy McCourt ended the night in top form. Malachy always takes the time to thank John Kearns for his work organizing and hosting this terrific evening. And he encourages members and guests in their own work. “You are all artists. Not aspiring.”Tonight Malachy was simply on fire arguing about the horror of guns and violence in this country. Reminding us “the word is more powerful than the gun,” he sang “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

catseyepix-0189_preview malachy.jpg
Malachy McCourt
catseyepix-0208_preview gang.jpgMany of the presenters, at the end of the night.

catseyepix-0210_preview friends.jpg

REMINDER: The next Salon at The Cell will be on Thursday, October 26 at 7 pm



September 24, 2017

9.19.17 IAW&A Salon: “Effervescent artistry and joyous fun…and variety…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 1:33 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

That note from a grateful participant sums up the mid-September IAW&A Salon at The Cell, hosted by Salon producer John Kearns.

It’s never too early to think Christmas with Mark William Butler. A playwright, producer, songwriter and IAW&A Board member – and producer of the program content for our upcoming O’Neill Award honoring Phil Donohue – Mark brought the wonderful Kaitlyn Baldwin and John Skocik to present a scene from his Ugly Christmas Sweater: The Musical. To see more,

Mark Butler, left. Kaitlyn Baldwin, center,  John Skocik

On a somber but moving tone, frequent Salon presenter Gordon Gilbert, Jr. read two pieces that dealt with Alzheimer’s disease, one a short poem called “The Alzheimer’s Waltz” and a new monologue, “Waking to a New World.”

Gordon Gilbert, left.  Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher knows that nostalgia can be sweet as well as sad, as she illustrates in her captivating story, “Finer Things.” In it, an elderly lawyer reunites with the object of his unrequited love many years after the end of their affair. Look for Maureen’ s poetry chapbook Lesser Known Saints, due out in the spring from Finishing Line Press.

Leilani McInerney gave another astonishing performance with her enactment of her own writings on aging, death and the hereafter. She made sure to include “humor and enlightenment,” noting that she felt emboldened by Malachy McCourt’s Death Need Not Be Fatal.

leilani.jpgLeilani McInerney

Sheila Walsh was delighted with the performances of Nancy Oda and Jack Di Monte reading Sheila’s short play “Finding The Fountain.” Another one-act in Sheila’s evening of eight one-acts, Lost and Found, the piece has a supernatural twist.

jack nancy.jpgJack DiMonte, Nancy Oda

Singing in unaccompanied harmony, Dan and Bonnie Milner amazed the audience with their performance of two traditional Irish-American songs from their CD, Irish Songs from Old New England. In “Cork Harbor” a wild storm at sea blinds the narrator, who returns to Ireland and marries his beloved. In “Here’s Adieu to Old Ireland” a bad lad is arrested and transported to Australia. Seven years later, returning to Ireland, he finds that his mother, who had cautioned him to reform, has died in his absence.

millners.jpgBonnie and Dan Milner

Actress and singer Annalisa Chamberlin had a chance to showcase her talents tonight. She performed a darkly comedic monologue “Blue Mountain” in which a young woman ponders a marriage proposal. Committed, yet conflicted, she explores options that include marital bliss, murder and faking her own death. A new IAW&A member, Dan Brown from Rockaway Beach, wrote the piece.

Annalisa performed two original songs: a poignant waltz she composed this summer, which she played on the grand piano, and “Easy Answers” a satirical piece written by our own John Kearns who accompanied on guitar.

Annalisa Chamberlin, John Kearns

In Brent Shearer’s story, a husband pauses time while shopping in a toy store with his wife, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. Brent, a writer living on the lower West Side, loved to challenge the audience with his work.


Brent Shearer, left. Christy Kelly

Poet, screenwriter and novelist Christy Kelly shared some poems, including “To Be Alone” and a tender tribute to a late friend.

Sarah Fearon had the surprise treat of working with Omar Haddad on guitar accompaniment, which she felt made her comedy set “a beatnik jazzy performance piece.” Sarah covered such subjects as the pending apocalypse, DNA tests, quitting smoking and crazy names of juice bar smoothies. Catch more of her work at The Friars Club on October 3 and at Tallulah Lounge on October 18.  Email for info!

omar sarahOmar Haddad,  Sarah Fearon

Singer, songwriter, artist John Munnelly played some original songs. “Expanding Universe” is the lead song on his ready-to-launch limited edition and handmade-designed-created EP/CD. He also sang – and we sang along – to “It’s Going to Be Alright,” composed last week for use at John’s songwriting seminar. Be sure to look out for John’s CD launch. or

john.jpg John Munnelly

Singer, songwriter, actor John Skocik started the night performing as “The Ugly Christmas Sweater” and ended it by singing some of his rollicking rock songs, including “Son of A Bitch” and “Even If Takes All Night.

joh s .jpgJohn Skocik

For more artistry and variety, come to the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, October 5.

September 16, 2017

9.7.17 IAW&A Salon: Poignant Stories, Amusing Poems and Camaraderie on a Balmy September Night at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:24 am

By Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy

Photos by Cat Dwyer

Edna O’Brien believes that Irish writers are driven by conflict…and loss…and an innate sense of tragedy. At the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon, summer came to an end with tales of death, love and loss.

Brent Shearer got the Salon started with “The Cancer Hospital” a story about a biddy who ventures into Manhattan from Long Island to visit her dying friend.  Afraid of muggers, she leaves her handbag home but carries with her the racist fears and prejudices that haunt her. Brent’s work has appeared in publications from the New York Times to Mergers & Acquisitions magazine, where he was a senior editor.

IAWA Salon, Thalia, Sept 7 2017

Brent Shearer

Our next presenter, Kathleen Vaughan, read from her memoir Raised by Nuns and Drunks, which describes a child’s loss of home and parental love. The excerpt was a tribute to her aunt whose visits to the young Kathleen brightened her seven years spent in a Catholic orphanage. While occasionally taking lady-like sips from her whiskey flask, Auntie Nora shared indelible memories of Kathleen’s mother and provided the “powerful, unstoppable love” she needed.


Kathleen Vaughan

IAW&A Board member Brendan Costello Jr. read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Winning, which despite its hopeful title, continued the somewhat dark themes of the Salon so far. The scene’s main character (a callow young man in his late twenties) observes the interaction of several homeless men across the street from his New Orleans hotel room. His detachment and disdain is meant to indicate his moral bankruptcy, much like the scene in Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness on which it is based.


Brendan Costello Jr.


At this point in the evening, host Maureen Hossbacher welcomed back, fresh from the Electric Picnic Arts & Music Festival in County Laois, John Kearns who accompanied a contingent of artists (novelist Kathleen Donohue, actress Maria Deasy, playwright Derek Murphy, comedian Sarah Fearon and monologist John McDonagh), who participated with John in our first Salons on Irish soil! John described their activities in Laois and other venues, and reminded us of important IAW&A events upcoming in NYC, most notably our exciting annual fundraiser, the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manhattan Club, on Monday, Oct. 16, 6-9pm, this year honoring legendary talk show host Phil Donahue (for tkts go to

John, pictured above, read a newly completed ending to an episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds, in which Paul Logan hopes to take barmaid Laura out for the evening but finds himself staying at her bar to listen to the Santana cover band, Bruja. When Laura’s friend, Stacey, arrives, the evening turns out completely different from what Paul had planned.

Rosina Fernhoff, a masterful, Obie Award-winning actor and frequent performer at our Salons, brought the first half to a close with a passionate monologue from the play Grace by Mick Gordon and AC Grayling.  In it, the bitter conflict which an atheist scientist has with her adored son, a gentle evangelist minister, is revealed.  She scornfully blames his death on his attempt to turn a  “violent religion into a better religion.”


Rosina Fernhoff

After the sobering subject matter of the presentations, a nice long intermission for socializing and imbibing refreshed us for the second half, kicked off by Karen Frances McCarthy, who read a poignant vignette “Living Room.  Morning” from her memoir entitled appropriately enough, Love, Sex & Death. She prefaced her reading by joking that she would read “the sex part” at her next Salon. McCarthy, an accomplished journalist, has written and produced documentaries for RTE and covered the Iraq war for the Irish Times and American politics for Al Jazeera. Her book The Other Irish became part of the cross border peace effort in Ireland, for which she was named one of Ireland’s most influential broadcasters who have made an international impact.


Karen Frances McCarthy

Gordon Gilbert writes fiction and poetry, and his play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home, has been directed and produced by him six times in NYC.  This evening he presented four poems, the first about how distance can make a lover forget the bad and remember the good; the next three about his father, who passed away this summer at the age of 98.  Gordon ended with an amusing anecdote from the eulogy he gave at the memorial service.


Gordon Gilbert

Next up, Mary Lannon furnished a bit more levity with her poems: “To Impersonate a Poet,” “An Exercise,” “I Am Monica Lewinsky,” and “In the Land of Landlords.”  The last two drew much laughter from the crowd. Mary’s fiction has been published at StoryNew World Writing and Prick of the Spindle. She’s at work on a second novel, and this was the first time she has read poetry at the Salon.


Mary Lannon

Tom Mahon, a long-time member and presenter, then read a vignette from his collection Delusions, a sad tale entitled “The Ten Grand Bride,” about a business transaction — a loveless green card marriage — that was supposed to improve the life of a lonely bachelor.  It didn’t.


Tom Mahon

Salon host Maureen Hossbacher ended the proceedings with a shout-out to Malachy McCourt, who often closes the salon with a yarn and a song, but sent his regrets this evening.  In his absence, Maureen sang us out with a stunning rendition of the Broadway classic from Finian’s Rainbow, “How Are Things In Glocca Morra.”


Maureen Hossbacher 

Come to the next Salon on Tuesday, 9/19 at The Cell Theatre.










August 21, 2017

8.15.17 IAW&A SALON: Musical, Moving and Drop-Dead Funny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 10:14 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark Butler

Three theater pieces, musical variety, poetry, video and lots of laughs were featured at the August IAW&A Salon at The Cell. Members continue to be inspired by last month’s immigration-themed Salon and by the topic of Malachy McCourt’s latest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal.


The audience cheered when Salon producer and host John Kearns read briefly from IAW&A mission statement: While avoiding party affiliation and endorsing no candidates for public office, IAW&A is outspoken in defense of artistic freedom, human rights and social justice. For its entirety, go to


Erin Krebs and Madden McDonagh

College students Madden McDonagh and Erin Krebs made their Salon debut with an accomplished rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Erin, a musical theater student, sang and Madden accompanied her on piano. They have been playing music together since they were 14 and offered their artistic vision to Cabtivist, the one-man show by IAW&A veteran and Madden’s dad, John McDonagh.

thom ros

Thom Molyneaux and Rosina Fernhoff

Thom Molyneaux raves that Rosina Fernhoff  “rocked the house” in a scene from Re-Wrighting the Creeping Venomed Spider King, Thom’s play about Shakespeare and the writing of his early masterpiece Richard III. As Queen Elizabeth, she was “…bright, witty, vulnerable and powerful with a spine of steel…” and had a theatricality that embodied the script. Thom and Rosina thank our IAW&A audience for its “support, warmth and exciting response.”


Madeline Artenberg

Madeline Artenberg presented three dramatically visual and moving poems with the underlying theme of the spoken and unspoken. They were: “From Nothing, about a father’s immigration to Ellis Island.  In “Rock Chick Sonata,” a mother’s lost dream has consequences for a daughter. In  “First Date,”  an innocent teenager is filled with angst, curiosity and hope on a first date in Coney Island.

tom sheila

Sheila Walsh, Sarah Fearon, and Tom Mahon,

Tom Mahon, Sarah Fearon and Sheila Walsh showed their comic chops in Sheila’s short play Birdie and Sue. Tom and Sheila, played the fantastical couple of the title, and Sarah, their perplexed friend. You’ll be able to see it in a program of one-act plays, Lost and Found.  We’ll announce the reading date.


Kathleen O’Sullivan

osull ireland

Kathleen O’Sullivan has been sharing her video autobiography-in-progress, “From Ireland to Isham Street” and it promises to be a lyrical account of her coming-of-age. The segment she showed tonight introduces the O’Sullivan family and their ancestral island in the West of Ireland. Her parents emigrated to America and eventually settled in Northern Manhattan, where the river and rocky cliffs reminded them of home.


Jon Gordon

Struck by John Kearns’s reading from IAW&A’s mission statement, jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon told the story of a particular moment in music history that brought together geniuses of different origins: Nat King Cole’s recording of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” in an arrangement by Italian- born Pete Rugolo. Jon read the lyrics of the brilliant song and then, played it on his sax, brilliantly.

derek play

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy gave great comic performances as the Kelly women in a scene from Derek Murphy’s dark comedy Dyin’ For It. Gathered around the bedside of the supposedly dying patriarch, the alarmed family realizes he might be showing ever-so-slight signs of recovery. If the Kelly women don’t kill each other first, they may have to put an end to the despicable Wally Kelly themselves, and before Christmas.


Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer’s very funny story addresses the question of whether aspiring writers should get an MFA or just go live in New York. Perhaps thinking about Malachy McCourt’s new book, Brent suggests a novel idea: a combined cemetery plot and writing program for, well, dead writers. Brent calls it: “MFA or NYC: Post Mortem Program to Have Scribes Knock Knock Knocking at the Gate of Heaven.”


Sheryl Helene Simler

Sheryl Helene Simler, poet, singer, dramatist, artist, demonstrated two of her talents by reading two original haiku, and singing, a cappella, two blues songs, including “Baby, Please Don’t Go.”


Miranda J. Stinson’s

We heard another humorous take on an aspect of dying in Miranda J. Stinson’s poem “The Men of Mortuaries Calendar.” Miranda read two beautiful poems, “Ghazal,” inspired by Maryam Alikhani’s reading at the immigration salon and “Belfast Nights,” perhaps inspired by the year she lived in Ireland.


John Kearns

John Kearns’s “Overture on Anger and Forgiveness” introduces the final section of his novel in progress Worlds. Using phrases and clauses from the section it introduces, the Overture mixes words of anger and forgiveness in a non-narrative musical way.


Don Meade

Ending the night with even more music, trad music star and expert Don Meade brought his tenor guitar and played Irish and Appalachian tunes and entertained us with an Irish music hall song, “The Mice Are at It Again.”


Don’t miss the next one, Thursday, September 7, 7 pm, Bar Thalia.




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