Irish American Writers & Artists

June 2, 2014

Sarah Fearon’s “Air Rights” on the boards June 19-22

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IAW&A Board member Sarah Fearon’s short play “AIR RIGHTS” will be in this Short Play Festival June 19,20,21, & 22. The festival theme is Only in New York.


For more info, go to

Tickets can be purchased at:



July 8, 2013

New talent, high spirits at IAW&A salon at Bar Thalia

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By Karen Daly

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That smart comedy duo of Sarah Fearon and Mark Butler hosted the Irish American Writers & Artists salon on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 with great charm. Hot weather, holidays, vacations…nothing seems to prevent a robust turnout at the Bar Thalia. Moreover, nothing stops the creativity and fun from flowing or stops new members from adding their talents to the mix.

The versatile Tom Mahon read the first chapter of a novel with the working title American Mastery. Set in territory that Tom knows well, rural upstate New York, it’s about two brothers who couldn’t be less alike, but who join forces to create a business that provides them and their families an independent, creative and rewarding life together. Tom began (and stopped) writing this novel years ago and recently picked up where he had left off.

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon  ( read from his recently released memoir, For Sue – A Memoir, which has been  called “…an American Angela’s Ashes…” (Guillermo Echanique, publisher Chimbarazu Press Brooklyn, NY). The best-selling, award-winning author, Peter Straub says:  “… the exceptional alto player Jon Gordon has written an emotionally honest, in fact painfully open-hearted account of himself as the loving son of an all but entirely inadequate alcoholic, drug-mesmerized mother who forced him to become more her parent than child. This is a book to cherish.”


First time presenter Sile Houlihan Fee said she’d been “sitting, just watching salons long enough” and it was time to present. She told the story of Chicago May, based on a Nuala O’Faolain book. At 15, May fled Co. Longford, Ireland, travelled alone to America in the late 1890’s and pursued a lifestyle that Sile says “ would make a sailor blush.” In O’Faolain’s foreword, she talks about how she learned of May’s existence and her fascinating, though criminal, life. Sile met the late author at a reading at Lolita’s Pub downtown. Sile tried to tell May’s story with Nuala’s enthusiasm and she surely did. A New Yorker with Co. Limerick born parents, Sile grew up in a “thatched cottage” in Woodside. She has been studying the Irish language for four years. She won a Fulbright/Irish government grant to study Irish in the Galway Gaeltacht, the first such grant for Americans studying the language. She is also the mother of two sons and proud seanmháthair of three.

Brendan Costello Jr. read, “De-Fused,” a short piece inspired by Franz Kafka’s “An Imperial Message.” He started by reading the Kafka passage, a parable of hopelessness and entropy, followed by his own darkly comic response, about the 2010 attempt to bomb Times Square. His piece managed to combine road rage, fireworks, and antidepressants, in what he called a tribute to “the 4th of July, the most Kafkaesque of American holidays.”  We called it brilliant!

Maura Mulligan read a poem “Beannacht” (blessing) from the late John O’ Donohue’s book To Bless the Space Between Us. Widely praised for his gift of drawing on Celtic spiritual traditions to create words of inspiration and wisdom for today, his work offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life.  Maura has a personal connection to O’ Donohue. The Irish teacher, poet and philosopher was a college classmate of her brother John Mulligan and she cherishes her signed copies of his books. Here’s the link to the poem:

In July, Maura will be reading from her memoir, Call of the Lark in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, Westport, Co. Mayo and Achill Island. She has a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Co. Monaghan for three weeks in August. In between all the writing and reading, of course, she’ll be dancing.

The many talented Guenevere Donohue, self-described raconteur-in-training, as well as playwright, director, singer, told a charming story from her childhood, and followed with the song “Love is Teasing.”

Karen Daly is a fan of the Irish born writer Maeve Brennan, who wrote for the New Yorker magazine in the 1950’s and 60’s. Tonight she read Brennan’s Talk of the Town feature set on the miserably hot Sunday of July 3, 1966, when there was “nothing to breathe except heavy displeasure.” Brennan was in a midtown restaurant observing the few customers who happened by — a family, two showgirls  (“Their dresses did all the work.”) and a man from  seemed to be from out-of town. Karen chose this piece because of its timing, but  mainly because Brennan’s powerful description and completeness of expression.  Karen is now tweeting about NYC history, Irish American and Irish events, and books and looking for followers at Kdaly321 on Twitter.

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New member Daniel MacGowan, a physician, wowed the group with his rendition of  the folk song “Sam Hall,” an old favorite of his. It’s about an unrepentant criminal sentenced to hang. Dan looks forward to hearing and telling more tales at the Salon. We can’t wait to hear what else he has in store.

In her salon debut Jen Callan read her first published piece “ Who Do You Think You Are and Is it Limiting You?” Jen shared her yearlong experiment of challenging everything she believed to be true about herself. She discovered that she was much more amazing than she once believed. Although this was her first experience on a mic, she harnessed the energy flowing inside to deliver a heartfelt presentation. She is slowly learning to call herself a writer. She is honored to share her work in a group of such talented artists who shine so brightly. Jen will continue to be a lover of the light. You can find her story at

Michele Cetera celebrated the anniversary of her first IAW&A reading one year ago by revisiting the moving story she read that night. Hectic Day is about the life of an oncology nurse, who is pulled in five different directions at once. Nursing can be rewarding and yet exhausting, some days you just want to give it all up. The nurse in the story is having a hectic day:  a patient nearly faints in the hallway, another demands test results and a young patient gets a diagnosis of less than a year to live. Needing a few minutes for herself, the nurse finds a quiet office where she discovers the chart of a previous patient. She reflects on how nurse, patient and patient’s husband dealt with Mattie’s, breast cancer, which she called an “inconvenience.” And  she realizes that in our busy lives and minor  inconveniences, we often lose site of the gift of everyday.

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Mark William Butler presented a comedic sketch called “ Greater Than/Less Than” which is about the tumultuous domestic lives of mathematical symbols. The dynamic acting duo of  Gwen Eyster and  Richard Butler  brought the piece hilariously to life. Mark himself made a cameo appearance as a numeral. The sketch is part of Mark’s comedy revue “Instant Happy!” which played at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in 2009.

Congratulations to Mark for another short comedy. Mark’s “The Laundry War,” also directed by Richard Butler just won a Best Play award at The Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival, here in NYC. Link to the festival blog, which includes an interview with the author.

Richard Butler quickly switched from math to history as he celebrated Independence Day and brought the house down with a stirring rendition of the song “Is Anybody There?” from the musical 1776, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards.

The evening ended with the traditional talk by Malachy McCourt. Tonight he read a piece about his views on what religion has wrought.  “I’m an atheist, thank God.” And  he led us in a stirring version of  “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

Next salon will be Tuesday, July 16, 7 pm at the Cell Theatre.

March 22, 2013

IAW&A to sponsor Opening Night at New York – New Belfast

Save the dates! June 12 & 13, 2013

New York - New Belfast returns to NYC

New York – New Belfast returns to NYC

October 15, 2012

LAST CALL for Eugene O’Neill Award honoring JUDY COLLINS

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A trio of folk music legends will reunite at next Monday’s annual Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Celebration as one of the founding fathers of American folk music, Pete Seeger, has just confirmed that he will join another folk legend, Tom Paxton, on the program honoring singer-songwriter Judy Collins.
The Eugene O’Neill Award is given annually by Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. to a writer, actor, musician, painter or other type of artist who has created a body of work that places them among the great artists and entertainers of all time.
“There is no one in the history of the folk music movement who casts a bigger shadow than Pete Seeger,” said IAW&A president and best-selling author T.J. English. “As a song writer, singer, and activist for human rights for more than 50 years, Seeger is a legend, and his desire to honor Judy Collins at the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event will make this a night of significant historical importance.”
Celtic rock legend Larry Kirwan will emcee a program that will include writer-director John Patrick Shanley (winner of the artist’s trifecta – an Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize); actor-author Malachy McCourt; Celtic songstress Ashley Davis; and a video tribute by Charles Hale to highlight a festive evening of “Literary Libations.”
The award, created by Tiffany & Co., will be presented Mon., Oct. 15, 2012 at a celebration starting at 6:00 PM at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square, just a few blocks from where Eugene O’Neill was born. Ticketing information is on the IAW&A website.

September 25, 2012

Writing Competition From The Table 4 Writers’ Foundation

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Friends of Malachy McCourt have formed an organization called the The Table 4 Writers’ Foundation, to honor the legendary restauranteur, Elaine Kaufman.

Elaine at Elaine’s


The organization will be giving grants of $2000 to promising writers living in New York City, 21 years and older, as part of an annual competition.

Rules and the application form for the grants, which will include both fiction and nonfiction writing, are available at Grant winners will be announced at a gala to be held on Sunday, February 10, 2013, marking what would have been Ms. Kaufman’s 84th birthday.

All entries must be postmarked by October 15, 2012.

September 10, 2012

Judy Collins, from age 13 to today…

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On October 15, Judy Collins will be honored with the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at a festive celebration in New York.  For more on the event, go to ; for more on Judy, read on…

Judy Collins has thrilled audiences worldwide with her unique blend of interpretative folksongs and contemporary themes. Her impressive career has spanned more than 50 years. At 13, Judy Collins made her public debut performing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos but it was the music of such artists as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, as well as the traditional songs of the folk revival, that sparked Judy’s love of lyrics. She soon moved away from the classical piano and began her lifelong love with the guitar.

Judy with Tom Rush, Arlo Guthrie, Judy and Eric Andersen

In 1961, Judy Collins released her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, at the age of 22 and began a thirty-five year association with Jac Holzman and Elektra Records. She interpreted the songs of fellow artists – particularly the social poets of the time such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton. Judy was instrumental in bringing other singer-songwriters to a wider audience including poet/musician Leonard Cohen – and musicians Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman.

Judy Collins is also noted for her rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” on her 1967 album, Wildflowers which has since been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Winning “Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards was Judy’s version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical “A Little Night Music.”

Judy has continued an impressive musical career with an extensive catalog from every decade throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and up to the present. On July 27, 2010, Collectors’ Choice Music will reissue (digitally remastered) nine CDs of Collins’ Elektra titles: Fifth Album (1965), In My Life (1966), Whales & Nightingales (1970), True Stories & Other Dreams (1973), Bread & Roses (1976), Running for My Life (1980), Times of Our Lives (1982), Home Again (1984) and Christmas at the Biltmore (1997). These albums contain newly commissioned liner notes by Ritchie Unterberger that include interviews with Collins.

Judy has authored several books, including the inspirational memoir Sanity & Grace, focusing on the death of her only son and the healing process following the tragedy; it speaks to all who have endured the sorrow of losing a loved one before their time. She is also co-director, with Jill Godmillow, of an Academy Award-nominated film about Antonia Brico, the first woman to conduct major symphonies around the world—and Judy’s classical piano teacher when she was young. In 1999, Judy founded her own record label, Wildflower Records – a grass roots artist driven label committedtonurturing fresh talent. The aim of the label is to develop long-term relationships with artists and their representatives in a way that Judy’s own career was nurtured by major labels. For more information about Wildflower Records you can visit the label’s website at

Judy Collins’ social history has always been linked with her musical history. Judy is drawn to social activism and is a representative for UNICEF and campaigns on behalf of the abolition of landmines, amongst many other causes.

Judy with Nelson Mandela & Tracey Chapman

Judy’s two latest creative projects, due out June 2010 are: a new CD, Paradise (Wildflower Records), a collection of 10 songs that include duets of Judy with the legendary Stephen Stills and Joan Baez; and Over the Rainbow(Imagine Publishing) a magnificent oversized children’s picture book and 3-song CD set, featuring artwork by renowned painter Eric Puybaret illustrating the lyrics of this #1 movie song of all-time, coupled with Judy Collins’ enchanting recording of the title song makes this destined to become a beloved classic storybook, delighting children of all ages for decades to come.

Judy Collins, now 71, is still writing, performing, and nurturing fresh talent. She plays 80 to100 dates a year around the country. Judy Collins, a relentlessly creative spirit, is a modern day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart.


April 19, 2012

One rousing performance after another at Salon at The Cell.

One rousing performance followed another at Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at The Cell. Billy Barrett, resplendent in his Ralph Kramden, Brooklyn Water Buffalo Lodge bowling shirt, blew into the joint with a Winston Churchill Davidoff cigar hanging from his mouth and opened the evening with the back end of the first chapter of Highway Star. “I like to slice and dice catch phrases and mix my metaphors,” Billy said,  “Kind of like listening to Cardinal Spellman recite Springsteen.”  Defined and memorable, thanks for the laughs, BB.
Stephanie Silber, (far right in photo) a first time presenter, read from her book Other People’s Houses, a coming of age story about a rebellious teenager, growing up Irish Catholic on Long Island in the late sixties and early seventies, who finds herself pregnant.  Last night’s reading was a fragment from the protagonist’s point-of-view as an adult, which then picks up with the girl, Queenie, and her good pal-who-wants-to-be-much-more on an excursion to see the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore. It took Stephanie a few months to get up in front of the audience and the one thought I was left with was, “Given your talent, Lady, what were you waiting for?” Great start.
One of the highlights, among many, was listening to another first time presenter, Connie Roberts, winner of the 2010 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. Connie opened her poetry reading with Seamus Heaney’s bog body poem “The Tollund Man.”  Connie then followed with her own response, “Letterfrack Man.” As Heaney memorializes the saintly body of the Tollund Man, Roberts memorializes the neglected saintly body of Peter Tyrrell, an ex-inmate of an Irish industrial school who was felled by institutional abuse.  Roberts finished with a number of poems from her(almost completed) poetry collection, Not the Delft School, a memoir in verse of her experiences growing up in an industrial school in Ireland.  Listening to and watching Connie present is a delight. We hope she returns soon. 
Actor Jack O’Connell was next up. Jack read from a work in progress, which was motivated by the upcoming (2013) fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assasination. Jack is writing the story of a young, Long Island, Kennedy campaign worker who, three years later, is a member of The Old Guard, the elite US Army unit that was responsible for his President’s burial.  Terrific story, neatly abetted by Jack’s great acting chops.  
For the past few months we’ve been trying to get member and award winning actress, Aedin Moloney, to join us for a presentation.  Once we were able to nail down a date, and learned that she would be performing “Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy, the famous extract from James Joyce’s Ulysses,  we anxiously awaited her rendition, which is recognized as the best in New York.  Aedin didn’t disappoint, in fact, her presentation was flat out thrilling. Slowly picking up the pace, the last two minutes were stirring and spellbinding.  Aedin exceeded all expectations. And given what the expectations were, that’s high praise. 

I followed Aedin– a daunting task–but I took the easy way out. Instead of reading a story I debuted a short film The Death of Baby Florence, a story about my maternal grandmother’s third child who died shortly after she was born. For religious reasons Florence wasn’t buried with her family. The video documents my search to find where Florence was buried and my journey to honor my grandparents’ pain.  The film opens with the Stephen Foster song, “Slumber My Darling.”

TJ English, president of the Irish American Writers & Artists, read a passage from the New York Times bestseller The Savage City, just out in paperback. This was the perfect reading of a non-fiction work. Deftly set up with a powerful story, followed by a short reading, TJ reflected on a key moment in the rising racial consciousness of a young black militant in New York City.

Tom Mahon, a frequent performer, and a man of many talents, read the second half of the short story “Desperate” in which three wounded vets, all from different wars, are brought together by a man least likely to be a hero in the way he emerges.  He not only saves two young people’s lives, but creates a new life and better ones for everyone by playing Cupid.

Playwright, Patricia Goldstone, followed up her successful reading at the Thalia Cafe with another reading from her playInterlock. Two accomplished actors, both of whom have appeared at salons, Vincent Bandille and John Moss, gave wonderful readings of an artist at the make-it-or-break-it age, driven and slightly maddened by ambition, but also a prankster and an outsider, not overly burdened by respect for the art establishment and his college buddy and rival, an Enron-type corporate lawyer.  Another very fine performance. 

Closing out the evening were Honor Molloy and guest actor, Caroline Winterson, performing a savagely funny scene from Honor’s playCrackskull Row.  Caroline, appearing at a salon for the first time was outstanding as the daughter to Honor Molloy’s rendition of a mad old wan living in at the back of a kill-de-sack in Dublin 2. 

Great evening. The next salon will be on May 1, at the Thalia Cafe, which is located at Symphony Space at the corner of Broadway and 95th Street. For more information on joining the Irish American Writers & Artists or learning about the salons, contact Charles R. Hale at

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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