by Charles Hale

Singer songwriter Michael Sheahan couldn’t join us at the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon this week—he’s touring the country promoting his award winning book and CD about Santa, “Mr. Holiday Presents the Roof Top Hop”– but we did have our own white-haired favorite, Malachy McCourt, who regaled us with his wit and wisdom. Malachy opened the precedings with a wonderful and informative session on the art of reading and storytelling.  And although it was meant to be informative—and it was—it became a rollicking storytelling session packed with tip after tip. Malachy at his best.  

 Kevin McPartland, a Viet Nam veteran who served in the Mekong Delta, read a riveting story of life and death from his  anthology of short stories, “Adventures in Hell.”  Charles Hale, inspired by a recent performance of Dancing at Lughnasa at the Irish Repertory Theatre read an essay Remembrance, Discovery and Connection, a tale of his mother’s visit to her grandfather’s birthplace in Castleblayney, Ireland, and Mary Gannon read an essay Names, a creative nonfiction piece reflecting on family history and her experience as an Irish immigrant.

Sheila Walsh, with the assistance of Honor Molloy and Kathleen Lawrence, read from her play in progress “Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors,”  the story of  two sisters who help their neighbor find his lost faith.  Sheila was followed by Honor Molloy, who screened a wonderful short video, “Sixpence the Stars,” a holiday story told by a Dublin Market woman.  If you’d like to see what a talented storyteller sounds like check out this youtube video  

Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence read a chapter from her unfolding family saga “Becoming Irish: The Progenitor, The Priests, The Pope and Me, or: How I Lost It on My Honeymoon–My Religion, That Is.”  Kathleen shared why her father, the sire to fifteen children, thought birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, was a bitch. What a surprise! This was Kathleen’s second Salon reading and we all look forward to her wit and wonderful writing. 

 Maura Mulligan read an excerpt from her soon to be released book “Call of the Lark,” a portrait of her childhood in rural Ireland during the 1940s and 50s. In her memoir Maura writes how she found the courage to change her life – three times. First, working as a servant in “a grand house.” Then, sailing to America and working for the phone company, followed by answering a higher call, entering a Franciscan convent in upstate New York.  I anxiously await the publication of this very fine work.

John Kearns a Salon regular continued reading from his novel in progress, “Worlds.” Set in 1910, John told how Father Sarsfield Logan, S.J. finds a worker and strike leader from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory beaten up under the Sixth Avenue Elevated and how he helps her to St. Vincent’s Hospital.  A compelling excerpt from what will be a wonderful novel.  John was followed by Sarah Fearon who has brought her great wit to a number of past Salons. Sarah worked on new material, including a few thoughts on potatoes, hunger, guilt, the Holiday Season, darkness–yes, this is an Irish-centric crowd–and, as per Malachy’s suggestions, tried to “find the light. ”  She always does just that. 

Anyone old enough to remember November 22, 1963 knows exactly where they were when he or she learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Kathy Callahan remembers it very well.  She was sitting on her father’s shoulders in Dealy Plaza that sunny afternoon in Dallas.  Kathy ended the evening with a witty and poignant discussion of a young girl’s special powers and memories of that day in Dallas. 

The next salon will be The Salon at The Cell, located at 338 W 23rd Street in Manhattan, on December 20th, beginning at 7PM. For more information on joining the Irish American Artists and Writers and presenting at a Salon contact me, Charles Hale at