By Karen Daly
Photos by W. Jay Wanczyk

Irish American Writers & Artists April Salon at The Ellington Restaurant featured an ideal mix of new presenters and familiar faces. Original music, superb storytelling, tributes to Irish forebears, and glimpses of a grittier New York were on tap. And IAW&A Vice President Brendan Costello was at the helm.

A new member and accomplished writer, essayist Judith Rodgers, opened with an excerpt from her novel in progress, with the working title Escape Velocity. Inspired by events in 1980s NYC, Judith deftly explores how people cope with the aftermath of a terrible crime: a child shot. This was Judith’s first Salon; we look forward to hearing more of her novel.

As a former journalist (Associated Press, The Boston Herald and The NY Daily News), Pat Mangan covered everything from politics to murders. Her story tonight was a personal one and by turns, funny, surprising and sweet:  a portrait of her mighty Irish grandmother. Born in Co. Mayo in the 1890’s, she came to America in 1912, having had the good fortune to pass up a spot on the Titanic!

David Gilna, award-winning playwright, producer and performer from Swords, Co. Dublin delivered stunning moments from his solo play, Bolt from the Blue. Working on a construction site a few years back, he was struck by lightning, and flatlined. Having premiered the work at the First Irish Festival, David promises to bring it back to a NY stage. Don’t miss it.

For more info on David please visit his website

Photo courtesy of David Gilna

Long a central figure in the Village music scene, hosting open mics and showcases, songwriter and author Bert Lee has played in a variety of bands. The always-entertaining Bert sang three of his compositions, all inspired by the story of his Irish-born grandfather, who made his way to the American West.
Retired NYPD officer Al Gonzales read from his memoir-in-progress, The Wearing of the Blue, from the Boogie Down Bronx to Buckingham Palace. He usually worked in a radio car in the South Bronx, and occasionally rode the subway. Al gave a cop’s eye view of riding the # 6 Train in 1989, describing what he terms a smorgasbord of New York characters and their reactions to him. Al’s an imposing presence…and he knew that some riders were glad to see him. We’re always glad to hear more about his adventures.

In her Salon debut, Kathleen McKitty Harris brought to life members of her Irish Catholic family —and a family secret – with a piece of her memoir. A fifth generation native New Yorker, Kathleen is a writer whose essays are widely published and a superb storyteller, who has performed at The Moth Radio Hour and at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. Sharing the Salon with Malachy McCourt, Kathleen said, “This is everything.”

A man of many talents and a popular Salon performer, John Munnelly sang two original songs, playing guitar and harmonica. Beyond being a musician, award-winning songwriter and author, John is crafty in the kitchen as the producer of the five-star Hattwood Hot Sauce. We might say he’s our sauciest member. You can find it at his website.

Malachy with his daughter Siobhan

Bringing the Salon to a close, our founder Malachy McCourt proudly noted “the proliferation of great talent.” As Malachy has recently been named a Saint of The Church of Stop-Shopping, we consider that his benediction.