Salon’s 5th Anniversary Party Celebrates Our Community, Collaborations and Successes

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

Irish American Writers & Artists held a jubilant Salon at the Cell Theatre on 9/22, celebrating the Salon’s 5th Anniversary, and our second year participating in Origin’s 1st Irish Festival.

Salon buffs may know that the first Salon was held in June 2011. After an event-filled spring and summer that included IAW&A taking part in NYC’s Easter Rising Centenary commemorations, a Salon showcasing award-winning graduates of the Frank McCourt High School and an evening with Italian American writers, September seemed the ideal time for the “official” anniversary.

Mick Moloney and Dan Gurney

Salon producer and host John Kearns featured some of the many IAW&A members who have shared developing work over the years, and whose participation and efforts have helped the Salon grow. One special guest, folklorist and musician Mick Moloney made his first Salon appearance. Mick is welcome any time he’s not traveling the world entertaining, teaching and sharing the legacy of Irish and Irish American music. Mick introduced young accordion phenom Dan Gurney.

IAW&A Board member Kathleen Donohoe,  has read from her novel about six generations of women in family of a firefighters, as she was writing it over the last three years. Ashes of Fiery Weather just been released by a major publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and described by Publishers Weekly as “a moving testament to the men and women who risk their lives every day.

Poet John Brennan likes to inspire the reader/listener with tales of long forgotten Ireland and the history embedded in its rocks and soil. Tonight the County Armagh native changed it up with a witty poem offering some fatherly advice.

Karen Daly

Karen Daly spends her time researching and writing about the lives of famous New Yorkers for a NYC landmark, and of course, for the IAW&A Salon. Her essay, “Miles” describes her other great interest beyond New York history, namely, bicycling. The subtitle tells the story: “How one broken heart lead to two broken arms, great friends, adventures and maybe even God.”

Guen Donohue brought to life an excerpt from John Kearns’ novel in progress, Worlds, in which a 1950s teenager grounded by her mother imagines the conversations  that she is missing among her friends at the diner. Guen’s a multi-talented artist who writes, sings and often  performs her own work at our Salons.

Singer-songwriter Tara O’Grady debuted two original songs with the Grammy-award winning guitarist Pete Kennedy. Tara has released four CD’s and has performed at festivals from Butte, Montana to Austin, Texas’s famous South By Southwest-SXSW.

We heard more of Tara’s music when Darrah Carr Dance company members Trent Kowalik and Alexandra Williamson performed two dances from their forthcoming collaboration at the Irish Arts Center “Celtic Jazz Tryst.” Artistic Director Darrah Carr calls her style ModERIN, as it combines modern and Irish dance, and judging from tonight’s performances, it’s a “must-see” for dance fans.

Pete Kennedy and Tara O’Grady

An award-winning author and playwright from Galway, Seamus Scanlon presented a scene from his play in development “The Blood Flow Game,” a tensely charged interaction between a couple played by actors Maria Deasy and Mark Byrne.

Playwright and composer of over thirty plays, musicals and revues, Board member and salon stalwart Mark Butler produced, hosted and wrote material for last year’s fundraiser for Urban Librarians Unite. Mark did a monologue on his elusive relationship with money. More comedy came from Richard Butler, who sang a song his brother Mark composed “I’m Sick of All the Toys” for his full-scale musical Bad Christmas Sweater.

The 5th Anniversary celebration closed on a fitting note, an energetic, entertaining reading by Salon founder and spiritual godfather, Malachy McCourt.