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.

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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

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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.

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Tom 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.

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Samhain, the Celtic new year, and forerunner of Halloween is coming up October 31stMaura 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 Mauramulligan@aol.comfor 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.

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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.”

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Malachy McCourt
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Many of the presenters, at the end of the night.

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