Irish American Writers & Artists

October 10, 2013

Gabriel Byrne, Colum McCann, William Kennedy Join in Advance Praise for Peter Quinn’s “Dry Bones”

Past president of the IAW&A Peter Quinn has penned (and he still writes by pen) the finale of his Fintan Dunne trilogy, due on the bookshelves on November 1.   Here are some early reactions and reviews of Dry Bones…

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“Peter Quinn is a poet and an historian and one of our finest storytellers. He sits at the fireside of the American imagination. He can carve mystery out of mystery. The work is generous and agile and profound.” – Colum McCann

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Kirkus Reviews


Author: Peter Quinn


Pages: 352

Price ( Hardcover ): $25.95

Publication Date: October 31, 2013

ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-4683-0736-8

Quinn’s final installment in a spy trilogy that began with Hour of the Cat (2005) and The Man Who Never Returned (2010) sends New York PI Fintan Dunne on a secret wartime mission to Slovakia to rescue OSS officers from the last gasps of Nazi aggression.

Dunne and his deceptively tough partner, the poetry-spouting banker’s son Dick Van Hull, barely escape Slovakia, where nothing is as it was described. A slippery chain of events exposes them to Dr. Karsten Heinz, a war criminal whose grave offenses include supervising gruesome experiments on concentration camp victims. Not only does Heinz avoid conviction, he appears to be among the many Nazi scientists and technicians being imported by the U.S. government to aid in the fight against communism. That men who were employed by Hitler to help kill millions would be awarded new careers in America is, says an outraged OSS officer, “the greatest danger we face…becoming the enemy we oppose.”

Jump to 1958. Working for a high-profile Manhattan security firm (complete with a smart and beautiful office assistant), Dunne comes across coded instructions to meet an OSS crony who has crucial information about Heinz’s whereabouts. More old friends and foes emerge from the shadows, while Van Hull, now a drunken shadow of his old self, remains hidden with a secret of his own.

Quinn writes with elegant restraint; he’s a master of tone and a deft orchestrator of people and events. His portrayal of Wild Bill Donovan, controversial head of the OSS, is but one of his sure-handed transformations of reality to fiction.

Gripping up to the end, the book—which takes its title from the old spiritual about everything being connected—will send readers who were new to Quinn back to his other books in the series.

# # #

Dry Bones is a savvy, suspenseful tale of World War II espionage and Cold War skullduggery in which Fintan Dunne cements his place in the PI pantheon alongside Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. Dunne can be misled and mishandled, but he can’t be deterred. Every bit as unpredictable as Quinn’s first two installments, this riveting conclusion to the trilogy leaves no doubt that Dunne is an ace of Spades who knows when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.” – William Kennedy

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Issue: October 15, 2013

Dry Bones.

Quinn, Peter (Author)

Nov 2013. 352 p. Overlook/Duckworth, hardcover, $25.95. (9781468307368).

WWII is nearing its end in Europe, but General “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the Office of StrategicServices, picks Fintan Dunne and Dick Van Hull to parachute into occupied Czechoslovakia to extract OSS officers dropped there to organize the Czech resistance. Immediately, Dunne and Van Hull are on the run, from Nazis, Czech Fascists, Russian troops, and hordes of refugees. They barely get out alive, but they discover an appalling secret that could cost them their lives.

Quinn’s plots defy easy summary, but his characters fascinate, and his sense of place and time is compelling. Dunne has seen too much war and salutes lost comrades with altar-boy Latin prayers. Van Hull’s recitations of poetry provide apt punctuation for everything the men experience.

Quinn’s Czechoslovakia is a maelstrom; his evocation of ruined German cities almost palpable. Donovan’s skill at navigating Washington’s internecine wars, his abrupt jettisoning at war’s end, and the dismissal of war-crimes charges for hundreds of culpable Nazis deemed useful in the coming Cold War are vividly drawn. Readers who want to really taste history will welcome

Dry Bones. – Thomas Gaughan

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“From first sentence to last, Peter Quinn keeps the reader gripped. I love the simplicity of the writing: it is both subtle and intelligent. Peter Quinn is such a marvelous storyteller that sometimes it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. But you know you are in a world that is singular and compelling. Fintan Dunne is a splendid creation, a character you will remember long after you have finished this superb novel.” – Gabriel Byrne


May 4, 2012

Writing & Storytelling Workshop with Honor Molloy

“I have seen many perform their written work over the last forty years, but it is easy to say that Honor Molloy, on the page or in person, is one of the very best I have ever experienced.”  

– Stanley Crouch, critic, columnist, novelist

Enjoy a day discussing your fiction, connecting with fellow writers and learning strategies to address how to face open mics.

Honor Molloy will lead a writing and storytelling workshop for fiction writers. In this class, writers will explore several aspects of the short story in a craft discussion and get their creative juices flowing with writing exercises and prompts. This workshop will also be focused on reading your writing in public, which can bring awareness to the tone, pacing and word choice of your story. Participants should come to the workshop with a completed story, ready to be shared with the group. Honor Molloy will offer writers tips and give each person a chance to rehearse with an audience of fellow writers to gain concentration and confidence.


For new and practicing writers. Limited to 15 students.

Fee: $50 non-member of IAC / $45 IAC member, senior or student under 16

Register through or 866-811-4111 

March 8, 2012

To Hell and Back at The Thalia Salon


Hell’s Bells and the The Bells of Hell were a central theme of Tuesday’ night Irish American Writers and Artists’ salon at the Thalia Cafe on Tuesday. Malachy McCourt, one of the owners of the old Greenwich Village saloon Hell’s Bells, told a riotous story of how the name of the saloon was banned from the New York telephone directory and then led the attendees in a chorus of The Bells of Hell. New member David Coles also invoked the spirit of the old saloon, reading from his novel In the Midnight Choir, based on his New York City life in the 1970s, hanging out in two Village saloons, the aforementioned Hell’s Bells and The Lion’s Head. Wonderful story.

John Kearns reminded the audience that his play In the Wilderness will be on stage in early June. John read two St. Patrick’s Day selections.  The first, from his book, Dreams and Dull Realities, was about a young boy’s refusing to wear a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button on Saint Patrick’s Day.  The second, a story called “Making a Visit,” described a Paddy’s Day memory of a young woman’s dancing a jig on top of a bar.   

First time presenter Guenevere Donohue read and sang from her new playKiller is My Name. As Guenevere described it, Killer is personal myth, memory as legend, and the mystery of the Marine, poet and spy who was her father. I look forward to this multi-talented woman sharing more of her art. 

Tom Mahon shared a story “Lat Life Happiness,” a love story for seniors, which he noted there are far too few.  Sheila Walsh read from her new play“Mr. Tweedy’s Nieghbors,’ a play about spiritural renewal the Irish-American way.  John Kearns and Sarah Fearon assisted Sheila in the reading. Sarah then provided the evening’s comic relief reading from new comedy notes.  

Mikelle Terson read three poems.  ”So No, We Cannot Be Friends”, a poem about betrayal and soap, “Behind”, which speaks to the depth of story behind “the bones of the brow” of each person we meet in our everday lives, and ”For Those Who Can Hear” which addresses the urgent situation of the African Elephant.

Mikelle also asked the audience to “hear  the calling” by entering her “What Made the Elephant Happy?” writing contest.  Deadline is March 15th, 2012.  The five dollar entrance fee goes to the elephants.
Judges are the venerable Malachy McCourt and jazz great, David Amram.  

Maureen Walsh followed with a story “The Enemies of Rose” about an eccentric godmother who enlivens the narrator’s childhood during the Irish-American heyday of 1950′s New York, when St Patrick’s balls were held at midtown hotels and everyone summered at the ‘Irish Riviera,’ also known as  Rockaway Beach. 

Robert Haydon Jones read “My Tawdry Story” a tale about what happens to a highly respected senior citizen from Connecticut when his DNA is a perfect match with semen found at an unsolved rape murder in Miami more than 30 years ago. A riveting story and well read.

Kathy Callahan’s laugh out loud memoir in progress, A Tale of Two Snoring Readers was anything but sleep inducing. She read of those suffering from sleep apnea, discovering how to overcome its significant challenges, the stigmas and complications that effect intimate relationships, daily functioning and emotional health.   

And Kate Vaughan, calling on her substantial Irish wit, read from her novel in progress Shennanigans, which takes place at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home and shows how even in sad times we can always make the best of it, and know that with God’s help/love anything is possible.  

Great evening enjoyed by a full house. 

The next Irish American Writers and Artists’ salon will be at The Cell theatre, 338 W.23 Street, on March 20, beginning at 7PM.  For more information about the salons or the Irish American Writers and Artists 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!


December 22, 2011

SRO for Salon at The Cell

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 3:17 pm
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by Charles Hale

Manhattan was the place to be Tuesday night, and many flocked to The Cell theatre where a standing room only crowd added to a festive evening of wonderful presentations. And the song “Manhattan” was the backdrop for my story, a young teen’s reminiscence of his grandfather’s riotous storytelling.

Keeping with the spirit of the season, Mark Butler brought in his musical team to perform songs from his holiday shows. Richard Butler sang “My Baby Likes Christmas” (from Secret Santa’s Juicy Jollies) and Jennifer Harrison followed with “Santa in the Sky,” (from Santa Forever!)  Carl Haan accompanied them on the baby grand. A smashing start to the evening.

Mary Gannon wrote and Martha Pinson directed a comedic one act play “The Grotesgues.”  We found ourselves in a recovery room with a grouchy Quasimodo and Frankenstein, who have just had plastic surgery.  The wonderful actors Derek Roche, Vince Bandille, Laura Summerhill, and John Moss skillfully performed Mary’s witty work.

The Grotesques was followed by Gwen Orel’s fine reading of her essay, “How I Learned to Drink Guinness in Prague,” artist and poet Vivian O’Shaughnessy‘s  reading of her poem “Him” and my story “Grandpa Charlie Tells the True Story of King Kong.”

Honor Molloy revived memories of her childhood when her big sister, Shivaun, would read a passage from Betty Smith’s New York classic “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”  Honor’s performance was dazzling and a perfect choice for the holiday season.

Maura Mulligan followed with a reading from her forthcoming memoir, “Call of the Lark,” which is scheduled for publication in early 2012.  Maura read a passage describing how, as a young girl in Mayo, she worked as a shop assistant in the town of Kilkelly, serving at the bar on Fair & Market days. Maura’s readings are delightful and her book is highly anticipated. Not only can Maura write but she can sing and she was joined by Irish language students, LeeAnn Pemberton and Séamus Keaney (yes, Maura teaches Irish too) for two Christmas carols – “Tá Sé Beirthe” (He is Born) and “Oíche Chiún” (Silent Night).  All were in fine voice for these wonderful holiday tunes.

John Kearns a frequent contributor at the IAW&A Salons read “Transmigration of Soul,” a poem (excerpted from his novel-in-progress, “Worlds”) and recently named a finalist in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize. The poem examines how African and Irish music blended together to create rock ‘n roll. Actors Gary Gregg and John Skocik followed with a performance of  a scene from John Kearns’s play In a Bucket of Blood about loyalty and betrayal among Hell’s Kitchen gangsters. A rousing performance by Gregg and Skocik.

Sarah Fearon, who is currently appearing at the Gotham Comedy Club, provided the evening’s laughs with her New York tales of the real estate market, restaurants, and yoga. Downward dog will never be the same.  

Seamus Scanlon read his 2011 prize winning  story “My Beautiful Brash Beastly Belfast” after a short introduction about his forthcoming play “Dancing at Lunacy”.  Seamus’s intense and powerful story was spellbinding.  The story is free at Gemini Magazine or $0.99 on Kindle  (which has extra background details).

Mark Butler’s troupe returned and closed out the evening with a beautiful holiday tune, “Christmas Is You” (from A Brooklyn Bargain Christmas). 

The next IAW&A salon will be at the Thalia Café at Symphony Space, at 95th and Broadway on Tuesday, January 3. For more information on IAW&A salons or joining the IAW&A contact Charles Hale at

December 8, 2011

Malachy McCourt Opens Thalia Salon, December Edition

by Charles Hale

Singer songwriter Michael Sheahan couldn’t join us at the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon this week—he’s touring the country promoting his award winning book and CD about Santa, “Mr. Holiday Presents the Roof Top Hop”– but we did have our own white-haired favorite, Malachy McCourt, who regaled us with his wit and wisdom. Malachy opened the precedings with a wonderful and informative session on the art of reading and storytelling.  And although it was meant to be informative—and it was—it became a rollicking storytelling session packed with tip after tip. Malachy at his best.  

 Kevin McPartland, a Viet Nam veteran who served in the Mekong Delta, read a riveting story of life and death from his  anthology of short stories, “Adventures in Hell.”  Charles Hale, inspired by a recent performance of Dancing at Lughnasa at the Irish Repertory Theatre read an essay Remembrance, Discovery and Connection, a tale of his mother’s visit to her grandfather’s birthplace in Castleblayney, Ireland, and Mary Gannon read an essay Names, a creative nonfiction piece reflecting on family history and her experience as an Irish immigrant.

Sheila Walsh, with the assistance of Honor Molloy and Kathleen Lawrence, read from her play in progress “Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors,”  the story of  two sisters who help their neighbor find his lost faith.  Sheila was followed by Honor Molloy, who screened a wonderful short video, “Sixpence the Stars,” a holiday story told by a Dublin Market woman.  If you’d like to see what a talented storyteller sounds like check out this youtube video  

Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence read a chapter from her unfolding family saga “Becoming Irish: The Progenitor, The Priests, The Pope and Me, or: How I Lost It on My Honeymoon–My Religion, That Is.”  Kathleen shared why her father, the sire to fifteen children, thought birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, was a bitch. What a surprise! This was Kathleen’s second Salon reading and we all look forward to her wit and wonderful writing. 

 Maura Mulligan read an excerpt from her soon to be released book “Call of the Lark,” a portrait of her childhood in rural Ireland during the 1940s and 50s. In her memoir Maura writes how she found the courage to change her life – three times. First, working as a servant in “a grand house.” Then, sailing to America and working for the phone company, followed by answering a higher call, entering a Franciscan convent in upstate New York.  I anxiously await the publication of this very fine work.

John Kearns a Salon regular continued reading from his novel in progress, “Worlds.” Set in 1910, John told how Father Sarsfield Logan, S.J. finds a worker and strike leader from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory beaten up under the Sixth Avenue Elevated and how he helps her to St. Vincent’s Hospital.  A compelling excerpt from what will be a wonderful novel.  John was followed by Sarah Fearon who has brought her great wit to a number of past Salons. Sarah worked on new material, including a few thoughts on potatoes, hunger, guilt, the Holiday Season, darkness–yes, this is an Irish-centric crowd–and, as per Malachy’s suggestions, tried to “find the light. ”  She always does just that. 

Anyone old enough to remember November 22, 1963 knows exactly where they were when he or she learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Kathy Callahan remembers it very well.  She was sitting on her father’s shoulders in Dealy Plaza that sunny afternoon in Dallas.  Kathy ended the evening with a witty and poignant discussion of a young girl’s special powers and memories of that day in Dallas. 

The next salon will be The Salon at The Cell, located at 338 W 23rd Street in Manhattan, on December 20th, beginning at 7PM. For more information on joining the Irish American Artists and Writers and presenting at a Salon contact me, Charles Hale at

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