By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
The IAW&A Salon at the Cell occurred on that revered date on the Irish cultural calendar: Bloomsday. Despite many competing events around town, we had a great crowd enjoying a night that was variously described as “raucous,” “invigorating and inspiring.” The line-up featured our first mini film festival, arranged by Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan, as well as poetry, fiction, stories, song and of course, the famous Molly Bloom. In honor of the wanderings of Ulysses and Leopold Bloom, several odysseys were presented throughout the evening.
Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan introduced the first brief film segment. The Irish Tapes, produced by John Reilly and Stefan Moore in association with Global Village. Reilly and Moore shot over one hundred hours of footage on videotape in Northern Ireland in 1971-1973. Our sample showed a man on short release from Long Kesh prison to get married.
Poet Tony Pena started off the readings with three poems: “A dance before New York,” and his Irish tribute “Upon kissing a Celtic princess” and “The island of untitled poems” which implores poets to name their works. Tony found his first Salon “invigorating and inspiring” and felt that even “rain could not dampen the great vibes brought on by the welcoming spirit…” We hope to welcome Tony again. See more of Tony’s performance poetry and caterwauling punk tunes at www.youtube.com/tonypenapoetry.
The three other segments were interspersed during the night. They included Guard Vincent: Fatima Mansions Beat. In 1999 filmmakers Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan followed police officer Vincent on his beat in one of the toughest housing projects in Dublin. The result was a vérité look at the people, the place and the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and systemic dysfunction. Filmmakers are trying to do a follow-up and return to the place and re-visit the people Vincent encountered on his beat. For more information, contact Comor at email@example.com.
Camino by Sea, in which a Writer, a Musician, an Artist and a Stonemason follow an ancient Camino route from Ireland to Spain in a daring voyage; rowing a traditional hand-made boat across the open sea. Filmmaker Dónal Ó Céilleachair documents two voyages of this intrepid group and their relationship to the sea. Visit http://www.anupictures.com/.
Lazarus Running: A tale of redemption and salvation in the story of Guinness Book of World Records marathon runner Tom McGrath. Tom was at the Salon to share a heartfelt description of his life as an athlete and New York City bar owner who faced his struggle with alcohol.
We thank Laure and Conor for their work in selecting these films and helping create another unique Salon.
IAW&A Board member and frequent editor of this blog, Karen Daly read a piece of memoir called “Listen.” Inspired by – or maybe incited by — the wonderful musical talent in IAW&A, Karen regrets that she was not gifted with the singing gene. Having been anointed “a listener” in school may have fueled her lifetime, unabashed love of music and dancing.
John McDonagh told the hilarious story “How the Irish peace process cost me one million dollars.” John and a friend spent seven long days in Los Angeles auditioning for The Amazing Race, which he calls “one of a long list of reality TV shows that I was rejected from. Spoiler: Honey Boo Boo and the Duck Dynasty boys pass the sniff test, but not a yellow cab driver from New York.” John’s on Twitter and Facebook at cabtivist.
Another New York story came from Jack DiMonte. Jack, a singer, told a charming story about an incident that happened to him many years ago. A young man showed up at his door at 3 AM with an improbable story about an acquaintance of Jack’s, a neighbor who had been in a car accident in the Bronx and needed $22 to get home in a taxi. Despite the near-certainty that this was a scam, the con man got the $22 from Jack and went on his way. In true NY fashion, the woman’s husband heard about the scam and kindly reimbursed Jack for the cash. His name was Graydon Carter, now the long-time editor of Vanity Fair.
“Moving through the air high spars of a threemaster, her sails brailed up on the crosstrees, homing, upstream, silently moving, a silent ship.” –Ulysses
Salon producer and night’s host John Kearns read an excerpt about Sarsfield Logan, S.J. from his generational novel in progress, Worlds. One night in 1910 New York, Father Logan is unable to sleep because his superiors have rejected his proposal to help nearby Italian immigrants. He writes in his journal to calm himself down. Throughout his journal entry, his anger and pride struggle against his vow of obedience and his need for humility until he finally abandons any notions of revenge and begins to pray the rosary.
In honor of the Summer Solstice, Margaret McCarthy read her poem, “The Tangible Illumination of Summer” from her poetry collection Notebooks from Mystery School, just published by Finishing Line Press. She began:
One morning I sank into summer and summer sank into me;
Tom Mahon read a chilling story called “Revenge” from his collection of vignettes called Tomorrow Never Came. Mathew Bender’s only daughter was killed by a man and for the rest of his life Matthew Bender went to the prison where her murderer was kept to look into the eyes his daughter last saw in life. For 57 years neither man ever exchanged a word, until Mathew lifted his phone and said, “I’m not coming anymore.” The prisoner left and Mr. Bender sat staring into space. When a guard came to his assistance, Mathew Bender was dead. Visit Tom-Mahon.com.
Every Bloomsday celebration needs a Molly Bloom and we were privileged to have Nicola Murphy perform a ravishing soliloquy. An accomplished actor, seen this year in the Irish Rep’s Da, Nicola’s profile may be found at http://nicolacmurphy.com/NicolaMurphy/Welcome.html.
Guenevere Donohue and Brendan Costello
An “Ulysses-ian” evening concluded with our own guitarists Brendan Costello and John Kearns accompanying soulful singer, Guenevere Donohue on three Joyce-inspired selections: Tom Waits’ mournful neo-trad “The Briar and the Rose,” a rockin’ Doors sea-song, “Land Ho!” and an IAW&A sing along about Dublin’s sweet “Molly Malone.”
Guen and the Bespectacled Baldies present “Molly Malone”
‘til next time. Tuesday, July 7 at Bar Thalia at 6 pm! Keep en eye out for news on our 100th IAW&A Salon celebration!