Irish American Writers & Artists

September 13, 2013

LAST CALL for IAW&A Theater Night at “Brendan at the Chelsea”


Tickets going fast for IAW&A Theater Night at Brendan at the Chelsea on Thurs., Sept. 19 at 8 PM

Please send ticket request ASAP to (limit two tickets per member).
Special ticket price of $37.75 represents a 40% discount and eliminates “convenience fees” when ordering online or by phone.

We are close to our ticket allotment, but maybe be able to secure more seats if we hear from you NOW!

Adrian Dunbar as Behan with Samantha Pearl as Lianne.

Adrian Dunbar as Behan with Samantha Pearl as Lianne.


December 23, 2012

Final Salon of 2012: An Evening of Music, Poetry, Drama, Prose, and Dance

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By John Kearns

Musicians & singer_WREN_DAY

On Tuesday, December 18th, at the Cell Theatre on Manhattan’s West 23rd Street, a standing-room-only crowd enjoyed the final Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon of 2012, an evening full of music, poetry, drama, prose, and dance.

We started off the evening with a round of applause for Charles Hale, who has stepped down from MCing and organizing the Salons and from the IAW&A Board of Directors.  We appreciate all of the hard work Charles put into building and running the Salon and we wish him well on his new project, Artists Without Walls.

Michele Cetera read a poignant tribute about her friend, Ivor Panell, who died of complications of sickle cell anemia at age forty six.  She then performed a high energy dance with partner Ricardo Villa to help the audience visualize Ivor’s spirit, endurance, and spunk.  He never let his disease bring him down. Through dance, he was able to embrace life and see all the color and beauty around him.  The dance/story was entilted, “Ode to a Friend.”

Arnine Cumsky Weiss took to the stage next to read a chapter from her new novel, She Ain’t Heavy,about loyalty and friendship and second chances.  Her publisher, Academy Chicago, will launch the e-book within the next two weeks and the hard copy in February/March.  We look forward to the book’s publication. arnine_weiss

Sarah Fearon and Jack O’Connell performed a first reading from Act I, Scene I of John Ford Noonan’s Conversations with Chekhov.  Sarah and Jack wanted to pay tribute to John Ford Noonan, who is now sixty nine and in an assisted living facility.  This piece was just one slice from his humorous cannon of work.  Jack’s friend, Tom Nohilly, states that Mr. Noonan has heard about the readings Sarah and Jack are doing and is glad to hear about them.  Sarah and Jack will probably repeat the scene in near future.

Honor Molloy closed out the first half of the evening with a funny and touching performance of “Sixpence the Stars” — a retelling of the Nativity story from the perspective of a Moore Street Market dealer at Christmastime in Dublin, circa 1966.  The story is an excerpt from Honor’s novel, Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage.

Just before the break, IAW&A Vice President and Black ’47 bandleader, Larry Kirwan spoke about the IAW&As new need to pay for the use of the Cell Theatre for its Salons.  The Cell had generously donated the space for over a year but now needs to charge us.  Larry passed a hat so that Salon attendees could help defray the cost.  Larry also wished Charles Hale well and encouraged everyone to support Artists Without Walls.

After the break, in his first Salon presentation, City College Creative Writing teacher and WBAI Radio producer, Brendan Costello read a short story set in the Jazz Age, entitled, “Mrs. Duncan (There Ain’t No Sweet Man).”  “A meditation on grief and mercy,” as Brendan described it, the story is based on an apocryphal anecdote about the 1920s jazz musician, Bix Biederbecke.

Tom Mahon read a piece from his series of prose/poems that take place in upstate New York’s Mohawk Valley.  In the story, set in the late 40s-early 50s, Mark Jenkins buys 700 acres and then goes to Scotland for a particular breed of sheep.  He returns with the sheep and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Mary.  Mark’s and Mary’s lives soar together until disaster strikes, and Mary shows her true mettle.  From there, they go on to live happy, prosperous lives, as all five of their children did, by leaving the land to become professionals.

Maura Mulligan, author of the uplifting memoir, Call of the Lark, gave a brief history about the origins of Wren Day, which occurs each year on December 26th.  In her Mayo village of Aghamore, colorful visitors, dressed in ribbons, straw, and masks would travel from house to house, entertaining neighbors with music, song, and dance.


Then Maura invited fiddler, Marie Reilly, and singer, Jack DeMonti, to join dancers from her céilí dance class on stage.  Jack sang “The Wren Song” made popular by the Clancy Brothers in the 60’s. Marie, whose CD, The Anvil, was released this year, played for Stephanie Lutz and Michelle Cetera who joined Maura in a lively jig.  Stephanie also played the bodhrán.  This Wren Day presentation was a colorful treat for Christmas!


Next, two accomplished actors, Annabel Hagg [] and Jake Green [], performed scenes from Martha Pinson’s original screenplay, Body Count 1968.  The work reflects the struggle of a young woman swept into the social, political, and sexual revolutions of the late 60s and a charming, brilliant, radical young man who is doing his best to sweep her into his arms.

Seamus Scanlon read from his crime fiction collection, As Close as You’ll Ever Be [Link:], which Peter Quinn has described as, “A masterpiece. Wildly disturbing and penetratingly truthful.”  The book is also available at the Mysterious Bookshop and The Center for Fiction. Seamus’s story captured the innocence and dark humor of childhood as well as the brutality of violence.

Singer/Songwriter Tara O’Grady debuted an original song that she wrote on the plane returning from Butte, Montana’s “An Ri Ra Irish Music Festival.” “That’s What the Miners Would Say: A Song for Butte” is about a day in 1917 when 163 miners died in a fire.  Based on notes they scribbled in the dark to their families as the smoke took away their last breaths, Tara imagined the mostly Irish-born miners in their final moments.

She ended the evening on a lighter note, performing a holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” from the new album, Together for Christmas- A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection which also features other IAWA members Larry Kirwan and Ashley Davis.

Tara got audience members to snap their fingers to help her keep jazzy time as she sang, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas … shewbeedoobee!”…

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, indeed!

— John Kearns

photos by Kathy Callahan


May 18, 2012

The Latest from The Salon at The Cell

by Charles Hale

Todd Pate began the Irish American Writers & Artists’ Salon at The Cell reading an excerpt from his “non-fiction novel” in progress, Most of America, documenting a two-month Greyhound bus trip through the United States last year, and the people he met along the way.  (More excerpts will be published June 1st at The Straddler.)
Todd spoke of his Texas upbringing near the Mexican border and it was the perfect segue to a collaborative work produced by Larry Kirwan and me. Larry’s band, Black 47, recorded the tune “San Patricio Brigade,” which Larry wrote, and I created the short film using video clips of Black 47, old photos and art work. “San Patricio Brigade” is the story of Irish American immigrants who, upon arrival in America, joined the army, were sent to fight in the Mexican-American war, deserted, fought for the Mexicans and were eventually hanged.

John Kearns presented a scene from his play In The Wilderness which opens at the Bleecker Street Theatre on May 31st.  The cast included — Octavia Chavez-Richmond, Stephen Jangro, Marilyn Mineo, Edward Raube-Wilson, Hannah Timmons, Cristina Torres, and Nirayl Wilcox* (* Appearing courtesy of Actors Equity Association. Equity approved showcase.) In the scene, set in a South Bronx high school, Paul Logan sends Carmen Marquez, the student-poetess for whom he has the highest hopes, to the guidance counselor’s office for skipping school.  The tables are turned on Paul as Irish guidance counselor, Kate Farrell, warns Paul against getting too emotionally involved with Carmen.  I’m looking forward to the play’s opening on May 31 at the Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker Street. 

Guenevere Donohoe began her presentation by sharing the good news that she’s been cast as Queen Margaret in a production of Henry VI part III, which will open in NYC this summer. Great news for this very talented actress. Guen followed her announcement with a stirring performance from her play, Killer is My Name, a story about the mystery that was her father and growing up in the Bronx.

Kathleen Donohoe, recent winner of the Crossroads’ Irish-American writing contest, read an essay “The Wealth of the World” about her paternal grandparents, which was published in the April/May issue of Irish America magazine. Kathleen submitted the story over two years ago, thought it was passed over, and was pleased to learn  that the person in charge “Photo Album” feature of the magazine found it in a folder of old submissions, liked it and published it.

I was moved by the last paragraph in Kathleen’s article:

“When I look at this picture, so ordinary before you know, I think about how for each piece of a family story that you’ve heard, there is another and another still that will remain strong in a dry throat, a poem in a closed book. And I think as well of this Irish proverb:

A tune is more lasting than the song of birds,
And a word is more lasting than the wealth of the world.”

Jim Rodgers returned to read an excerpt from his Sunnyside novel, Long Night’s End. This time he chose an excerpt a bit lighter than the last. Reading from an early chapter in the novel, Johnny Gunn comes face to face on the elevated 7 train with the voluptuous Molly Farrell, a woman he has avoided since their steamy affair resulted in Johnny losing his faith, his soul, and a whole lot more. The mixture of fear and desire Johnny feels on the 7 train is only relieved by Molly’s departure at the Lexington Avenue stop. I suspect we have not seen the last of Molly Farrell.

Tom Mahon read a personal essay, “The Church & Its Flock,” which arose from the outrage he feels from familial betrayal and hypocrisy. Tom wrote of how he assumed that he knew his family, believing they cared for each other and would never do anything to hurt the other, but he learned he was badly mistaken.  He believes his heathen ancestors would be appalled at his family’s materialistic values and longs for the “Chieftian of their Pagan tribe” to put an end to the behavior since, as Tom writes, “The  destruction of a family is the destruction of the tribe.” Another fine story from a versatile and talented writer. 

David Coles read a passage from his unpublished book, In the Midnight Choir, following the conversation between a bartender and 3 of the bar’s regulars as they wend through the hours of an empty Sunday night, the haggard aftermath of a long hard weekend in Greenwich Village in the 1970’s. Superb writing and a book that I’m sure will land a publisher very quickly. 

Stephanie Silber closed out the evening with a wonderful reading from her novel The Dark Side of Time, a psychological thriller with elements of horror and the supernatural.  The novel’s protagonists have relocated from Brooklyn with their toddler daughter to a fixer-upper cottage in the suburbs with a dark past.  Dreams, visions and things that go bump in the night ensue immediately, and the sinister triad of recently arrived lay residents in the vacant convent next door ratchet up the dread.

The novel’s themes include an examination of our troubled times and who and what we worship, as well as what parts of ourselves we’d sell out to get what we think we need.

The IAW&A salons take place on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Thalia Cafe, located at 95th and Broadway and The Cell theatre located at 338 W. 23rd Street, respectively. For more information on the salons or joining the Irish American Artists and Writers contact me, Charles R. Hale at

February 9, 2012

The Man Whose Prayers “Bored the Brains out of God” & More at IAW&A Salon

by Charles Hale

Singer songwriter Susan McKeown wasn’t at the Thalia Cafe Tuesday night but Honor Molloy announced that Susan can be heard on the audio version of her soon to released book Smarty Girl-Dublin Savage.  Honor  read a passage from her book titled “Glass in Heaven,” a story that centers on the O’Feeny family’s beloved uncle coming home from London, sharing a story, scaltheen (whiskey and hot butter) and song around the fire. In addition to Susan’s music and Honor’s voice, actress Aedin Moloney and novelist Kevin Holohan can be heard on the audio book. 

The laughter never stopped once Tom Phelan began reading an excerpt from his novel Nailer, a thriller that takes place in Laois and Offaly, Ireland.  In his reading, Tom presented the aged Doctor Alexander McNulty, whose prayers “bored the brains out of God.”

Sheila Walsh’s play in progress, Mr.  Tweedy’s Neighbors, was read with the help of Kate Vaughn, Orla O’Sullivan and John Kearns. Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors is a play a about spiritual resurrection the Irish-American way.

Their were two poets on hand. Ed Farrell read a number of poems on aging and first-time presenter Maureen Walsh read a sequence of poems inspired by the experiences of Irish-American women and their foremothers. Maureen concluded her reading with a poem celebrating all women who write.  Her poem of  Catholic girls’ first love–the local parish priest–was my favorite.  Nothing like a tale of forbidden longing to spice things up. 

Maura Kelly introduced what she hopes will be an annual initiative. Designed to be a “new way” to experience Ireland’s greatest holiday, “SOBER St. Patrick’s Day” will be an opportunity for people in recovery, their friends and family, to participate in authentic culture.  Created in response to the damaging effects of public drunkeness on March 17 and the negative perception of the Irish, SSPD will be a family friendly event for ALL who want an alternative way to celebrate. The goal is to reclaim the true spirit of the holiday through the very best in contemporary Irish music, dance and comedy.  The venue is Regis High School on 84th and Park Avenue and will run from 3PM to 7PM.  The website will be up next week. Stay tuned. 

Tom Mahon began the second half of the evening with a riotous tale, “What Made the Elephants Happy,” which was written in direct response to an appeal made by Mikelle Terson at last month’s Thalia Salon.  Mikelle introduced a writing contest , which costs five dollars to enter, with all of the proceeds going toward saving elephants from extinction.  As Tom explained, he started the story in response to Mikelle’s discussion of elephants and in the old Irish tradition of spinning tales “just kept going.” Very witty. 

Kevin McPartland read from his novel in progress, Brooklyn Rhapsody. Kevin began by sharing with the audience that he’d recently started on the novel and until the day before Tuesday’s Salon was undecided whether the novel should be written in the first or third person.  And then, as often happens with artists, the muse appeared–“First person, Kevin”–and that was it.  If Tuesday night is an indication of what’s to come, Kevin, or his muse, definitely made the right choice. Terrific and very “Brooklyn.”

We were honored to have with us Kathleen Donohoe, the winner of this year’s Irish American Crossover Writing Contest, who read “The Bearing Wall,” an excerpt from a chapter of her novel, You Were Forever.  This particular passage concerns a fire widow, whose husband, a fireman with the New York Fire Department, has been killed in the line of duty. 

Playwright, poet and novelist, John Kearns read a segment from his first novel, The World, in which the sixteen-year-old main character, known as “The Artist,” realizes while watching a Fourth of July fireworks display that he is falling in love. 

And, as is often the case, we were blessed to have Malachy McCourt say and sing the final words, which he did leading the gathering through a beautiful rendition of “Will You Go Lassie Go.” This is becoming a wonderful tradition and one that all presenters look forward to. How often have I heard, “Will Malachy be here tonight?” We can only hope he will be at every Salon for years to come. 

The next Salon will be on February 21 at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd Street, beginning at 7PM. For more information on joining the Irish American Writers & Artists you can contact Charles Hale at

January 17, 2012


Tonight the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon sets up again at The Cell, 338 West 23rd Street in NYC.  The evening begins at 7:00.

IAW&A members can present, but all are welcome to attend.  So, if you’re not a member and you are interested in becoming one, please see Salon host Charles Hale at the Salon or join online  at

The Salons work best when folks keep their presentations within the ten minute limit. If you plan on reading, please read your work aloud at least once so that you know how long it takes.  Many find they can read about 1,400 words comfortably in ten minutes.

There will be wine, but donations are appreciated to cover the cost!

See you there!


July 14, 2011

Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Irish Repertory Theatre

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater,Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 4:12 pm
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Irish American Writers & Artists to present O’Neill Award to Irish Rep founders at annual event on Oct. 17

The Irish Repertory Theatre has been named the 2011 recipient of the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually by the Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. (IAW&A). Irish Rep founders Charlotte Moore, who is also the company’s artistic director, and Ciarán O’Reilly, producing director, will accept the award at a festive celebration on the evening of Monday. Oct. 17 at the Manhattan Club, just north of the Times Square location where O’Neill was born and one day after the 123rd anniversary of his birth.
Opening its doors in 1988 with Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, The Irish Rep has consistently pursued its mission to bring works by Irish and Irish American masters and contemporary playwrights to American audiences, to provide a context for understanding the contemporary Irish-American experience, and to encourage the development of new works focusing on the Irish and Irish-American experience.
IAW&A board member T.J. English said, “Irish American Writers and Artists is proud to present its 2011 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, the founders of the Irish Repertory Theatre. Together, starting with little more than a shared dream and indefatigable determination, they’ve made the Rep into one of the theatrical community’s most creatively vibrant and artistically significant venues. Along with their brilliant staging of O’Neill’s plays, Charlotte and Ciarán have presented season after season of critically acclaimed productions. With the Rep, they’ve done for Irish theater in New York what Yeats and Lady Gregory did for Dublin with the Abbey. Their contributions to the arts in general and Irish-American culture in particular are immeasurable. They’ve richly earned this award.”

Moore and O’Reilly wrote, “It is an honor pure and simple to be recognized for our work, but to receive an award with Eugene O’Neill in the title is deeply meaningful.” They quoted O’Neill himself to summarize the vision that drives and sustains the Irish Rep: “’The people who succeed and do not push on to a greater failure are the spiritual middle-classers. The man who sets out for the mere attainable should be sentenced to get it–and keep it. Only through the unattainable does man achieve a hope worth living and dying for–and so attain himself.’ In that spirit or perpetual striving, they concluded, “we treasure this award both for the honor it brings and the inspiration it provides.”

On behalf of the board of the Irish Rep, chairperson Ellen McCourt spoke of the “generous, innovative, creative, and oh let’s just say it, brilliant” work that Charlotte and Ciaran have done in bringing the Irish Rep to where it is today. “The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award,” McCourt said, “is an especially appropriate honor. From the moment they opened their doors with Sean O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars,’ in 1988, the theatrical community has been continually enriched by a remarkable series of Irish and Irish-American productions. Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal puts it simply when he describes The Irish Repertory Theatre as ‘One of the finest theatre companies in America.’ Ciaran and Charlotte are true heroes as well as great artists. I can’t imagine two worthier recipients of the O’Neill Award.”

In addition to the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, the Irish Rep has been honored with the 2007 Jujamcyn Award, a special Drama Desk Award for “Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish drama,” and the Lucille Lortel Award for “Outstanding Body of Work.”

The IAW&A annually bestows the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on an Irish American writer or artist who has created a body of work that places them among the great artists and entertainers of all time. Playwright Eugene O’Neill embodied the highest level of artistic achievement. With his unparalleled body of work in the theater, he not only won many prestigious awards (including four Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize for Literature), he maintained a level of artistic integrity that set the bar for all to come.

Actor Brian Dennehy was honored with the 2010 O’Neill Award. Novelist William Kennedy accepted the inaugural O’Neill Award in 2009.

O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Cocktail Reception, will begin at 6.00 pm on Monday, October 17, 2011 at the Manhattan Club, upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s, 800 7th Avenue at the corner of 52nd St., near Times Square. .

Founded and operated as a non-profit organization, Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. celebrates the achievements of Irish- American writers and artists, past and present, and works to highlight, energize and encourage Irish Americans working in the arts. IAW&A supports free speech, the rights of immigrants, the equality and dignity of all, and the process of peaceful, positive social change in the U.S., Ireland and around the world.

Founding board members of Irish American Writers and Artists Inc, include writers Peter Quinn, TJ English, Pete Hamill, Malachy McCourt, Mary Pat Kelly, Michael Patrick MacDonald and Celtic singer/songwriter Ashley Davis.

For more information about Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc, go to where on-line ticket sales will begin soon.

For media queries and photo requests, please contact:
John Lee 917-475-6981

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