by John Kearns
Photos by Tom Mahon

The first IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on April 7 gave attendees a tremendous night of quality and variety, not to mention free DVDs.  Thanks to the work of the Salon Committee, this salon was hosted by comedienne and IAW&A Secretary Sarah Fearon who kept a great humorous flow through the evening.

Symphony Space Artistic Director, Andrew Byrne

Symphony Space Artistic Director, Andrew Byrne welcomed the salon artists and audience as part of the Symphony Space family and congratulated us on approaching our fifth anniversary of salons at Bar Thalia (in June). 

Sarah Fearon

Sarah Fearon opened the salon with material spoofing St Patrick’s Day, Easter, death, and taxes.

Jenny Griffin
First-time presenter Jenny Griffin found the IAW&A salon crowd very welcoming and was delighted to meet Mr. Malachy McCourt in person.  The first poem Jenny read was “The Grass is Greener.”  She wrote it after spending Christmas back home in Ireland in 2015. It is nostalgic and a typical emigrant’s lament to home and the people there.  Her second poem was, “Up the West,” depicting childhood visits to her maternal grandparents’ home in the small village of Williamstown, Co.Galway.


Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran shared a poem about spring funerals and the habits of the dying with the warm and welcoming IAW&A Salon audience.


Tom Mahon and Sheila Walsh

Playwright Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon presented Sheila’s play-in-progress, When Love Comes Tumbling Down, in which  a daughter’s wedding announcement exposes the regrets and longings in her parents’ long marriage. Playwright Walsh was delighted to be asked by several  members, “What happens next?”


Mark Tompkins

Mark Tompkins read from his new Irish themed novel, The Last Days of Magic. Published by Viking Penguin, it is an epic tale of magic and mysticism, Celts and traitorous faeries, mad kings and exorcists, and a broken Goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost – medieval Ireland.


Vivian O’Shaughnessy, poet, artist,  and translator, presented her latest dramatic monologue.  Her designed, authored , handmade books (which include translations and hand Braille) are in many collections.


SundanceTV provided a ten-minute excerpt from its mini-series, Rebellion, debuting on April 24th, the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Audience members received free copies of the miniseries on DVD.


Bernard Smith

Dubliner Bernard Smith sang an original called, “Travel On,” about letting go a world he has little or no control over, taking a deep breath as it were.  He followed this with a sean nos song  called “The May Morning Dew.” It is an old Irish air set to a poem about an emigrant on in years remembering the old homestead and the things he saw and done as a child there.  The audience thoroughly enjoyed Bernard’s performance and we hope to see him at the salon more often.


IAW&A Board Members Kathleen Wash Darcy and Mark Butler, enjoying the break


John McDonagh with his authentic New Zealand flag

John McDonagh told the hilarious story of his efforts to get a flag from New Zealand for a ceremony at his Uncle’s graveside in County Fermanagh.  John’s Uncle, Peter McDonagh, emigrated to New Zealand and joined the army during World War II, was a prisoner of war in North Africa, and wounded in Italy. The tale of the New Zealand government’s suggestion that John buy a flag from to commemorate their war hero was storytelling at its best.


John Kearns

John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which older priest Sarsfield Logan, S.J., is up early one morning in the fall of 1945, writing in his journal. Sarsfield writes about his father’s prayer and work life – his ora et labora. He recalls a time when his father had promised to take him to a Phillies game only to come home too late … with a cigarette card bearing a photo of Sarsfield’s favorite player, Jack Clements.

Thanks to Sarah’s hosting John was able to focus on his own presentation more than usual and was gratified by the audience’s reaction to the story.


John Brennan

John Brennan read three poems.  The first, “To my Brother,” was written in Arbor Hill Barracks, Dublin May 1 1916 by Patrick H. Pearse for his brother Willie.  At the time of writing, Pearse was not aware that Willie was also to be executed.  He followed that with two of his own poems,  “The Meadow Ballet,” prompted by vivid memories of his father using a scythe and “The Bards of Croom,” telling the story of the  18th century Fil na Maigue Gaelic poets of Croom and Kilmallock, Co. Limerick


Myss UneeK

Brooklyn poet Myss UneeK said she had a great time and learned a lot about the Irish culture. Myss UneeK presented an introduction poem she likes to use to give the audience a chance to get to know her, a sort of a breaking-the-ice poem. She followed tis with  a poem called, “Kids,” which Myss UneeK wrote for all the children in foster care. It’s a poem about the struggles she went through growing up in the NYC foster care system. In the poem, Myss UneeK describes how she survived and how she felt not having either of her parents around and losing her mother to the streets.


Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt concluded the proceedings with his suggestion of an all-storytelling/no reading salon and a touching rendition of “Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men).”

See you soon at one of these upcoming IAW&A Salon events:

April 13th: Come and network at the Irish Business Organization meeting at 6:30.  Three salon presentations (John Brennan, John Kearns, Ryan Cahill) will conclude the event at 8:30. Scandinavia House 58 Park Avenue, NY, NY.

April 19th:  IAW&A Salon at the Cell focusing on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Presenters include Larry Kirwan, Mary Pat Kelly, Maureen Hossbacher, Honor Molloy, Maria Deasy, and Maura Mulligan.  Irish Consul General Barbara Jones is scheduled to attend.

April 24th:  The Irish  Consulate’s “Welcoming Ireland” celebration of the 1916 centenary. At 5:30 on the third floor of Pier A Harbor House, we will have a mini-salon featuring Marcia Loughran, John Munnelly, Guenevere Donohue, and Malachy McCourt.