The evening of October 16, 2009 was a major event in the young history of IAW&A. At the Manhattan Club in NYC, before a crowd of over 200 people, we bestowed upon author WILLIAM KENNEDY our inaugural EUGENE O’NEILL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. The event began with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn officially proglaiming Oct. 16 to be “Eugene O’Neill Day” in the City of New York. Singer ASHLEY DAVIS opened and closed the event with a song. IAW&A co-director MALACHY McCOURT was Master of Ceremonies. Actors MATT DILLON and MICHAEL O’KEEFE read from the works of William Kennedy, and Pulitzer-prize winning playwright/director JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY read a passage from O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” There were short speeches from IAW&A co-founders PETER QUINN, MICHAEL PATRICK MacDONALD and T.J. ENGLISH. Novelist MARY PAT KELLY (“Galway Bay”), a member of the IAW&A Board of Directors, was in attendance, as were distinguished artists such as actors GABRIEL BYRNE and KEVIN CORRIGAN, writers COLUM McCANN and THOMAS KELLY, and many others. Among the highlights was the unveiling of an original illustration of O’Neill created by artist TIM O’BRIEN exclusively for IAW&A, to be used on the cover of the brochure/program for the evening (see artwork above). It was, as we had hoped, an unprecedented gathering of Irish American writers and artists. We come out of this event with a membership of over 200 people. This could be the beginning of something exciting and monumental. To those who attended, Much Respect. To those who did not, we hope to see you at future events.