8/2 Salon: An Intense, Intimate Summer Evening

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Christopher Booth

Song, storytelling, acting, memoir and even a joke entertained the crowd at a short but intense Irish American Writers and Artists Salon on Thursday night, August 2nd, at Bar Thalia.

One of the many stand-out performances of the evening was by John McDonagh who will soon perform at the NYC Fringe Festival. To much laughter, he told the story of how the Northern Irish Peace process cost him the million dollars that he would have won on the reality TV show The Amazing Race. McDonagh will tell that story and others in his one-man show, Cabtivist, at the NYC Fringe Fest beginning August 14th.

The evening opened with John Brennan reading “Back When,” his memoir condensed to 1200 words and 10 minutes. It was, as Sarah Fearon termed it, “The microwave version of his award winning book, Don’t Die with Regrets.”
Kathleen Vaughan

Next Kathleen Vaughan read a moving chapter from her upcoming memoir about being orphaned called, Raised By Nuns & Drunks. The reading told the story of her Police Athletic League(PAL) sponsored outing from The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home for Kids to the Palisades Amusement Park. Vaughan remains thankful to PAL. Vaughan, a Director of Career Services at the Grace Institute is a member of the County Cork Association, Irish Business Organization, and a Director of Cathedral High School Alumnae Association.

Then our gracious host for the evening, John Kearns, read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Kitty and Paul Logan travel to Ireland with their father in part to help him cope with his death of his wife, Janey, six months before. Discovering that they are in a touristy pub with amplified music in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Paul insists on finding some authentic traditional music (which his mother had loved.) At the more authentic pub, the Logan family runs into an orthodontist who knows Janey’s family and the traditional music house parties they were known for hosting in West Philadelphia.
David Newkirk

In presenting two parts of the long poem Radii, first-time IAWA reader David Newkirk unraveled the mystery of a young woman feigning deafness and blindness (“Malingering”) and celebrated his preschooler son’s repulse of manipulation by a narcissistic relative (“The Refusal of Hate”). More of David’s writings are available here.

Peadar O’Hici ended the first half singing “The Ballad of Sean McLoughlin,” an original song about a socialist from Dublin. He became Commandant-General of the army of the Irish Republic at the end of the Easter Rising in 1916. James Connolly was injured and stretcher bound on the Thursday of that week and command was handed over to the 21-year old McLoughlin for the duration of the fighting.

Award-winning actress from Cork Eilin O’Dea performed a section from Antigone, a section from As You Like It and read some section from Edna O Brien’s, House of Splendid Isolation.


Sheila Houlihan Fee had the crowd laughing at her joke: “An Amusing Confessional from 1916.” Fee is a New Yorker whose parents are from Limerick. She studied Irish at NUIG as a Fulbright winner.

In a salute to Tony Bennett on his 90th birthday, Jack DiMonte told a brief story ofseeing the great singer in a live performance some years ago, and then launched into an impromptu impression of Mr. Bennett’s singing “Because of You,” one of Tony’s first hits.
The evening ending with the versatile Marni Rice reading an excerpt of a new play in progress From the Flora Dora to Interpretive Dance. The play is about her grandmother, a farm girl, vaudeville performer, and student of Martha Graham in the 1920’s. Rice also sang us out with a traditional Irish ballad.