By Brendan Costello
Photos by Christopher Booth
The first December Salon of the Irish American Writers & Artists brought a delightful mix of music and readings, touching on classic holiday themes as well as some realities of the cultural moment. 
Matthew Paris brought everyone together with his inspired classical improvisations on traditional Irish songs, creating a warm and welcoming prelude to the evening. Host Maureen Hossbacher welcomed everyone, and our “pre-Christmas” program was on! 

Acclaimed jazz singer and cabaret performer Myriam Phiro then sang a pair of Edith Piaf songs, in advance of her performance at Birdland to mark the release of her new album, “PHIRO chante PIAF.”

Here’s a couple of videos to get a sense of this talented French Canadian’s performance style:
Video 1
Video 2

And for more information on Myriam please visit her website.



Next, taxi driver, raconteur and radio host John McDonagh (his one-man show “Cabtivist” was developed at our Salons and went on to run at the Irish Rep) took the stage. John recounted his relationship with Randy Credico, and how he brought down Roger Stone (and maybe Trump).
In her IAW&A Salon debut, actress Colleen Davie Janes performed The Body and the Blood,” a new monologue written by IAW&A member Dan Brown. The piece explored the crippling and devastating effect that fear can have on a person’s life. 


Colleen Davie Janes

Dan Brown

Maeve Price brought us some seasonal cheer with a heartfelt reading of the Christmas tree story from Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Marcia Loughran celebrated her birthday month by getting back to the Salon. Although she usually shares poetry, Marcia read an essay about a newborn baby’s first Christmas, and the family’s interaction with her. Despite it not being a poem, the piece had the lyrical sensibility we’ve come to expect in her work. Marcia said she’s “grateful that the Salon continues to exist, for where there is IAWA Salon there is hope.”


Joe Goodrich performed a Holiday story from his boyhood in Worthington, Minnesota, turkey capital of the world. His story of a young boy’s terror at being replaced bby a “new boy” at Christmas had a happy end — the “new boy” was Petey, a Fox Terrier.
Honor Molloy continued what is now an IAW&A Christmas tradition, reading an excerpt from her memoir Smarty Girl about the story of the first Christmas, as told by a Dublin street vendor. The story has been affectionately known as “the lickle oranges,” and like the shawlie says, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
Malachy McCourt ended the evening with a heartfelt admonition to not let the tenor of the times, the strife and ugliness of our current political situation, spill over into our personal lives. Then, as always, he brought us all together with a song, wrapping a fine evening and setting us up for our annual Christmas event on the 17th.