By Karen Daly
Photos by Dan Brown
IAW&A Ends 2019 in Style and with Spirit
The two Irish American Writers & Artists salons in December showcased the range of vibrant talent our members and guests bring to our events. The first was on December 3rd at the Thalia Studio, beneath Symphony Space, and the second, on December 17th at the cell, was our annual Christmas Party and salon.
Karen Daly, Mary Pat Kelly and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy
Malachy McCourt and John Kearns
In the final Salon of 2019, we had more Christmas celebrating, and marked two significant events for IAW&A: President Mary Pat Kelly’s and Salon Producer John Kearns’ ending their tenures on the Board. We celebrated them with tributes and gifts, and sincere appreciation for their roles in the success and growth of our organization and of our Salons.
IAW&A members are familiar with their many talents and accomplishments, so we’d like to highlight just one or two here: Mary Pat, a founding Board member of IAW&A, and our first woman President, presided over our tremendously successful Eugene O’Neill Award honoring Peter Quinn. John has helmed the Salons for seven years, while also serving as IAW&A Treasurer. We’re grateful for their contributions and anticipate seeing more of their creative works at Salons and in our community.
To Mary Pat and John — MÍLLE BUÍOCHAS!
As far Christmas celebrating, the wonderful Kristine Louis sang the tender love song “If You Could See Him Fly” from Mark William Butler’s “Ugly Christmas Sweater; The Musical” — now an IAW&A Christmas tradition…Charismatic performer Derek Dempsey sang his own composition “Every Christmas” and The Pogues’ song, “Fairytale Of New York.”…Singer, writer and actor Guenevere Donohoe paid stunning tribute to the Winter Solstice. Jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon offered a beautiful rendition of “Winter Wonderland” as well as improvising with other artists.
William Leo Coakley’s poem celebrated our chief “Ringer of Joy” — Malachy McCourt. (William reports that he’s on the shortlist again for the Irish Times’s New Irish Writing Prize for 2020.)
Guenevere Donohoe and John Kearns
Derek Dempsey and Jon Gordon
Keeping it in the season, and bringing some mischief, a scene from Dublin playwright Derek Murphy’s “A Very Irish Killing” was set on Christmas Eve. As the murderous O’Brien sisters hire a professional killer to knock their father off. Shae D’lyn produced and directed three fine actors Sarah Street, Aimee O’Sullivan and Tom O’Keefe.
Among the literary offerings, novelist Remy Roussetzki shared a piece of memoir, “The Drifter, about his good luck in finding an apartment on Riverside Drive. Larry Kirwan read from his novel in progress, about a NYPD family in the Rockaways who lost a son on 9/11 and performed a capella “Jesus Was A Working Man.”
Poet and translator David McLoghlin read from his two collections, Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems and Santiago Sketches (Salmon Poetry). They included “Euclid Avenue,” inspired by an old map of the subway system and another portraying an aged woman, “wearing her beauty like dried flowers.”
John Kearns has read sections of his novel, Worlds, about several generations of an Irish American family. Tonight, with John concluding his run as Salon host, he was thrilled to have Elisabeth Ness and Michael Whitney bring its final scene to life. Connecting strands of history, the protagonist hears that the Good Friday Agreement will be signed in the North of Ireland, as he stands near the statue of George M. Cohan in Times Square.
Elisabeth Ness, Michael Whitney and John Kearns
Darrah Carr Dance Company members Michelle Esch and Trent Kowalik brought uplift to the night with their thrilling, unique blend of modern dance and traditional Irish step.
As usual, Malachy McCourt brought the Salon to a cheerful close, re-iterating our sincere thanks to Mary Pat and John, and closing with the Christmas Story according to Malachy.