By Karen Daly
Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.
History — actual, mythological and personal — was on the agenda at the early February IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia. In addition, we had several poets, at least one saint and possibly some sinners.
Singer/songwriter/artist John Munnelly, armed with his poetry instead of his guitar, showed another facet of his creativity. He read three short poems: “The Great God of Battle (Lies),” “The Revenant” and “I Am from Dirt.” John also read the lyrics to his latest single, “Nowhere Without You.” To hear the sweet love song, and spend a few imaginary minutes in Antigua, see his video and be sure to share the link http://bit.ly/NowhereWithoutYou
John Munnelly. Photo by Christopher Booth.
In the history department, Patrick Mahoney gave us glimpses of some of the fascinating characters in From a Land Beyond the Wave: Connecticut’s Irish Rebels 1798-1916, just published by The Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society. Pat, a PhD student, co-authored this volume together with Neil Hogan, to tell the story of the Connecticut Irish who joined and supported Ireland’s fight for independence.
You can meet the authors at the book’s launch on Friday, February 24, from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Maple Cafe, 938 Maple Avenue, Hartford. Pat Mahoney and Neil Hogan will read, along with other guests. They’ll be followed by a traditional music session, led by John Whelan and Jeanne Freeman of the Connecticut Academy of Irish Music. All traditional musicians are welcome to join the session. Producer Ed Patterson invites everyone to the event and he promises a lively night of books, music and craic.
Pat Mahoney, left. Cormac O’Malley
Cormac O’Malley, an author and son of Ernie O’Malley (militant nationalist, author, art critic and historian) read from his father’s renowned memoir, On Another Man’s Wound. The lyrical passage describes the rustic landscape that Ernie cycled through while he was on the run in the IRA. Cormac talked about Ernie O’Malley’s life with the IRA in the War of Independence and later in the Irish Civil War. Captured and seriously wounded, he went on a 41-day hunger strike, avoiding execution because he was too weak to stand trial. Cormac O’Malley has edited has Modern Ireland and Revolution: Ernie O’Malley in Context, pubbed by Glucksman/Ireland House. Leading Irish and Irish-American academics in examine O’Malley’s life relating to literature, modern arts and photography in Ireland, his role in the War of Independence including its depiction in the movie The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
Jack DiMonte shared his fascination with the history of the Great American Songbook, singing two ballads composed by Harry Warren: “This Heart of Mine” and “I Wish I Knew.” Warren, a lesser-known but most prolific songwriter wrote many of the best-loved and best-known songs from the 1920s through the 1950s, primarily for Hollywood, including the score of the movie 42nd Street.
Actor and writer Nancy Oda shared the legends of the goddess Brigid, forerunner of St. Brigid, who is celebrated on February 1st. A harbinger of spring, symbolized by milk and dairy products, Brigid is a triple Celtic goddess. She represents the fire of inspiration, fire of the hearth and of the forge. Thus she is a patroness of poets, writers, mothers, and artisans, who are well represented in IAW&A.
Nancy Oda, left. Bernadette Cullen
The poet Bernadette Cullen read two poems. The first poem was a meditation on Andrew Wyeth’s haunting painting “Christina’s World,” in which she says I have not moved. Bernadette calls “Requiem” “a poetic narrative on the political climate in this country in the wake of Trump’s election.”
Salon producer and host John Kearns reports that his novel, Worlds, an Irish American family story, is nearly finished. In 1890s Philadelphia, young Seamus Logan makes suggestions to his boss about how he can improve his construction company’s tough business. After his boss fails to take his ideas seriously, Seamus wanders the streets of South Philly and decides to stop into Boyle’s Tavern to see a friend who has encouraged Seamus to go into business for himself.
Ed Patterson, in addition to producing the Irish American Film Festival, is a writer. Tonight he sampled his new screenplay, about a suburban couple going out to celebrate their anniversary. In the process they discover who they’re not and rediscover their own love. We look forward to hearing more and seeing where the story ends.
John Kearns, left. Ed Patterson
Raised by Nuns and Drunks is the title of Kathleen Vaughan’s memoir-in-progress. Kathleen and her family arrived from Co. Cork when she was a year and a half old. When she was five, after her mother died, she and two of her four siblings were placed into the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home, an orphanage in the Bronx. “It will be only for six months,” said her overwhelmed father. Seven and a half years later Kathleen went home. Tonight, she read an excerpt describing an indelible incident that took place during a relatively rare weekend visit home to 11 Hillside Avenue.
Kathleen Vaughn, left. Brent Shearer
Brent Shearer, who dubs himself NYC’s oldest unemerged writer, presented his short story “Skirts Up, Jeans Down, Butts Bare” to a mixed audience response. He was happy with the reaction of the Thalia’s bartenders, noting that he has “followed in the footsteps of the McCourts for whom diversity and inclusion are core values.” He adds that “the community Malachy and others created performed its essential function well…” at the Thalia.
Marcia Loughran shared a good-natured ode to the IAW&A Salons, plus her poem about a New Yorker visiting LA in January. Her chapbook, “Still Life with Weather” said to be “full of music” is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com https://www.amazon.com/Still-Life-Weather-Marcia-Loughran/dp/1539481182/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Marcia Loughran, left. Malachy McCourt
Malachy McCourt brought a very full night to a close with his usual words of wisdom, humor and song.
Mark your calendar:
Next salon will be Tuesday, February 21, 7 pm at The Cell.
St. Pat’s-for-All Parade on 3/5 on Concert on 3/3. For full details, go to http://www.stpatsforall.org