By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

A great audience for the April Salon at Bar Thalia  was rewarded with wonderful poetry, skillful comic performances, exceptional music and three Salon debut presentations.

Cormac OMalleyCormac O’Malley, at right, returned to the Salon with poems by his father, the militant Irish nationalist and literary character Ernie O’Malley (1897-1957). When O’Malley lived in the US in the 1930’s, he wrote romantic, nostalgic poems about Ireland including “Picturesque Connemara,” “County Mayo” and “Mary Anne Jordan.” Other works reflected the struggle for independence and those who did not survive it. They include “Ghosts,” “Friends Shot in Gaol” and “Mountjoy Hanged, 1921.” Cormac will launch his books Modern Ireland and Revolution, Ernie O’Malley in Context andWestern Ways: Remembering Mayo Through the Eyes of Helen Hooker and Ernie O’Malleywith the First Irish and IAW&A members at the Maple Cafe, 938 Maple Avenue in Hartford on Friday, April 28, 9pm.

mauraMayo native Maura Mulligan read two poems about Ireland’s beauty. “Dawning of the Day” evokes the morning mist on Minaun Cliffs. She composed it during her writer’s residency at the Heinrich Böll cottage on Achill Island, where she worked on her memoir, Call of the Lark. “Evening in Dooagh” was inspired by a windy evening in the village of Dooagh. Maura founded Nollaig na mBan NYC, a group of artists dedicated to celebrating Celtic holidays to fundraise for The Dwelling Place of NY – a transitional residence for homeless women in NYC. The next event, celebrating Bealtaine will take place on Sunday, April 30th at Ripley Grier Studios, 520 8th Ave at 3:30 p.m. For more information,

Maria Deasy and Sarah Lafferty gave wonderfully comic performances as a less-than-loving mother and daughter in Dyin’ for It by Dublin born playwright Derek Murphy. As the man of the house is upstairs fighting for his life, the women fight over the merits of being kidnapped and tortured overseas vs. staying home in Ireland and being kidnapped and tortured. Their argument is prompted by the Taken movies starring Liam Neeson.

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Maria Deasy reads the movie reviews, while Sarah Lafferty,  playing her daughter, waits.

Bernadette Cullen read two beautiful, topical poems: “Conversation in Black and White” and a piece that contrasted the words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”) with the US response to the tragedy in Syria. Our audience responded with tears to this moving work.

Bernadette Cullen, Freddie White

The fabulous Freddie White sang three original songs — “Some Stupid Song” and “Last Man Standing” from his latest CD Prodigal Songs and “That Loving Touch” from his Better Days CD. For more about this singer/songwriter/musician, go to where you can find listings for his upcoming performances.

Salon newcomer Ailbhe Fitzpatrick brought her many talents to New York a year and a half ago. A singer, music producer, pianist and documentary filmmaker from Dublin, she demonstrated her beautiful voice by singing the Patrick Kavanagh poem “Raglan Road” set to the music of “Dawning of the Day” by Luke Kelly and Patrick Kavanagh. As an encore, Ailbhe sang the traditional ballad “Red Is The Rose. Hear her again at the first May Salon.

Ailbhe Fitzpatrick, left.  Sheila Houlihan

A great Salon supporter, Sheila Houlihan  was delighted with the reception of her first-ever attempt at writing a poem. Her autobiographical poem, “When I Was A Child” highlights the popular music that formed the soundtrack her life. Of Elvis, she writes

Those hips didn’t lie. New sounds and rhythm of his guitar.

Passing fad. Devil’s music, said the critics.

Yet its pulse spoke to me…


Another poet new to IAW&A, Indiana born Miranda J. Stinsonmoved to Brooklyn in 2016, after a year in Ireland. Miranda shared some of her work, including “Trench Cello,”  “My Father Thought the Bomb Would Drop on Minnesota,” and a beautiful love poem  called  “Sorcha.” Miranda, pictured at left,  works in publishing and will be participating in the New York Rose of Tralee selection night on April 30, 2017.

Producer of the Irish American Film Festival, Ed Patterson has written a screenplay called Separation Anxiety. Ed calls it “a love story of a middle-aged couple on their anniversary…” though they’re not quite loving when we first meet them. Maria Deasyplayed Ed’s wife, and Sarah Lafferty the babysitter in the engaging segment we heard tonight.

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Ed Patterson, Maria Deasy and Sarah Lafferty.

Salon producer John Kearns presented a brand-new song whose title he came up with during John Munnelly’s Songwriting Bootcamp at the Irish Arts Center. John had the crowd singing along to “They Wouldn’t Call Them Crushes If They Didn’t Hurt Your Heart.” The song tells four stories in which the narrator develops feelings for a woman — a coworker, a bartender, a fellow student, and a singer — but the relationship doesn’t work out.

John Kearns, left.  John Munnelly

Then John Munnelly himself closed the show with four songs from his soon-to-be-released acoustic EP Expanding Universe or XU. They included “Kings and Jesters,” “Angels Tears” “ Expanding Universe” and “Hallelujah (Encore).” John recorded them in Brooklyn with a trio of acoustic guitars, vocals and an upright bass. A graphic artist, John is handcrafting each CD cover. Watch this space for the XU release show and come support a Salon favorite.