by Karen Daly
The Irish American Writers & Artists annual membership meeting on June 30 at the Irish Consulate in NYC marked several transitions in our five-year history.
We welcomed our new president Larry Kirwan and sent our thanks and appreciation to his predecessor and IAW&A co-founder, T.J. English for his service and leadership as both president and treasurer.
Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan has been a generous supporter of IAW&A from the beginning and has been especially helpful in organizing the “road” salons to Fairfield, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Now Peter will take up the newly created post of Consul General in Hong Kong. Mary Pat Kelly presented Peter Ryan with a first-edition of a Seamus Heaney poetry collection, purchased by Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy on behalf of the IAW&A. Members of the Board thanked Peter on behalf of the membership, and he in turn gave a gracious goodbye speech.
We sent our thanks and appreciation to Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Hanora Kilkenny who have hosted the IAW&A at their residence and who will now be assigned to Greece.
President Larry Kirwan talked about his aims for the IAW&A, the importance of our mission as a progressive-minded group and his awe of the magic that happens at the IAW&A Salons. Among his goals: chapters in other cities, (board-member Eamonn Wall of St. Louis is reaching out to the Midwest and to Irish Studies communities), an occasional salon just for musicians and more road salons. Members suggested having additional “transatlantic” salons with Irish groups, based on our successful cyber- salon with Dublin poets. Larry challenged each person to bring in a new member – an easy prospect now that the membership fee is $50/$25 for students.
Vice-President Mary Pat Kelly reported on the great success of the first Frank McCourt Literary Prizes (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) presented in June to members of the first graduating class of NYC’s Frank McCourt High School — Kate Nelson, Anastasia Warren, and Sebastian Montjuich. Plans are being made to fundraise for subsequent McCourt Prizes.
Speaking of awards, Malachy McCourt treated us to the story of his long acquaintance with Pete Hamill, designated to receive our 2014 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award in October.
Treasurer and Salon Producer John Kearns reported on our finances, which are strong. John pointed out that funds need to be replenished because of money spent on the Frank McCourt Literary Prizes and the smaller-than-usual profit made by last year’s O’Neill Awards. The O’Neill Award is the IAW&A’s major fundraiser of the year and John urged everyone to help make this year’s award to Pete Hamill a success. Plans are in the works for road Salons in Breezy Point, Danbury, CT, IBAM Chicago, and Saint Louis. Secretary and force behind the popular “Weekly” newsletter, Mark Butler suggested that IAW&A support a NYC library advocacy group.
Sarah Fearon introduced the committees and asked for volunteers in Events, O’Neill Award, and Communications.
Other recent changes — Mark Butler, Eamonn Wall and Karen Daly have joined the Board and Dan Cassidy, T.J. English and Tim O’Brien have stepped down.
Finally, Larry and the Board look forward to an exciting year of expansion, enhanced communications and a promised new website.
Once again, we thank the Consulate and Peter Ryan and his associate Mary Deady for their hospitality.