By Karen Daly
Irish American Writers & Artists held a joyful and meaningful mid-December Holiday Salon, marking a return to our tradition and our first event at the handsome Irish Arts Center. We are grateful to IAC for generously hosting us.
Organized by IAW&A Board member Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy and Honor Molloy, and hosted by the inimitable Honor, the night featured favorites from Christmas past and added new favorite holiday pieces.
Wexford born Shelley Ann Quilty-Lake, an attorney by “day” and IAW&A Board member, made her live Salon debut. Shelley makes no claim to acting, but after her gorgeous reading from James Joyce’s The Dead, we respectfully argue to the contrary and expect to see her perform again soon.
Playwright and composer Mark Butler is known for his charming Ugly Christmas Sweater musical. Like Santa’s elves, Mark keeps producing holiday treats, and he’s back with a new musical, The Kris Kringle Christmas Special. Mark sang new songs including the tender “Santa Has a Present Just for You.”
Marcia B. Loughran chose several poems from her collections (Still Life With Weather, My Mother Never Died Before and Other Poems, and Songs from the Back-in-the-Back), including “Maya’s First Christmas.” Our host praised Marcia’s work as “beautiful, intimate, funny.” Especially beautiful to hear her read the words of “The Herring are Running in Canarsie.”
Actor/singer Maeve Price bought to life the unforgettable Christmas tree scene from Betty Smith’s classic book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In a cruel custom, a seller throws unsold trees to children who can catch them, and brave 10-year-old Francie Nolan and her brother step up to do so. Your reporter admits to tearing up over Maeve’s portrayal.
Joe Goodrich, an award-winning playwright and novelist (The Paris Manuscript) and crime fiction expert, gave an animated performance of a poignant childhood story. As a kid in Minnesota, Joe confronts his worst his fears, as “The New Boy” is expected for Christmas.
Honor Molloy’s “Sixpence, the Stars,” also known as “The Little Oranges,” a vignette from her autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage, has become a beloved IAW&A tradition. Honor brings us Dublin’s open-air markets, circa 1966, where a Moore Street “shawlie” tells the Christmas story in her own words.
Maeve Price closed with a lovely rendition of the Irish folk song, “She Moved Though the Fair” and leading those brave enough to hit the high notes in “O Holy Night.”
Thus we ended the salon, and starting the merrymaking.
On behalf of Irish American Writers & Artists, thanks to our presenters, members and volunteers, supporters and readers for contributing to a vibrant and successful year. Happy Holidays!