November 25, 2022

Craic & cake at the Salon on September 27

Maura Mulligan, left, and Meg Hennessy on mics. [Photo by W. Jay Wanczyk]


Irish American writers and artists returned to The Ellington restaurant on the Upper West Side for an in-person lounge on September 27, featuring a mix of familiar faces and new performers, delivering a dynamic and moving lineup of presentations to a full crowd .

Poet Robert McKenna opened the evening with his energetic rendition of three plays, ranging from funny to heartfelt to biting satire. It was clear to everyone why he is a co-host of the monthly group Flash Mob Poetry, as well as a member of the Long Island Performance Poetry Association. His presentation turned out to be the perfect start to the evening, and based on the crowd’s response, he’s sure to be welcome soon.

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Maureen Brady’s play is from her new novel, ‘Tessa’s Landing’, about the perils facing a 16-year-old girl sent to America in 1846 from Achill Island. The story was inspired by family traditions – her great-great-grandmother was sent from this island off the west coast of Ireland to New York to marry a man she did not know. Brady’s gripping excerpt expresses the terror and disappointment the young woman feels in a strange new world.

Maureen’s published novels are “Getaway”, “Ginger’s Fire”, “Folly” (nominated by Adrienne Rich for the ALA Gay Book Award and republished as a classic by The Feminist Press) and “Give Me Your Good Ear”, as well as a collection of short stories and three non-fiction books. Her work has won her numerous awards and grants, and she teaches creative writing at NYU and the Peripatetic Writing Workshop.

Then Meg Hennessy took the stage and demonstrated her enormous talents as both a writer and a performer, with poems that weaved intricate rhyme and heartfelt imagery (especially the slyly seductive “I Dare Ya”) , delivered with style and confidence. the Nuyorican Poets Café and Restless open mic, among other poetry venues.

Meg is a poet and actor from Limerick, Ireland. She moved to New York in 2016 to study acting and has since performed five shows with the Irish Repertory Theater and recently made her television debut in the Netflix series Archive 81. Her work has also appeared in Insight magazine, and will surely have more publishing credits to his name in no time.

Novelist and newcomer to IAW&A Anthony C. Murphy read an excerpt from his novel, Shiftless, which chronicles his childhood in Lancashire, England, with his father Joe, originally from Bandon, Co. Cork. Murphy read an excerpt, both poignant and darkly hilarious, about an adult son in transit, bringing his father’s ashes home to be buried in Ireland.

To complete the first act and make their debut at the Salon, the folk-rock duo the Kennedys. They played a song honoring the first responders who risked and sacrificed so much during the pandemic, and also played “River of Fallen Stars,” which was one of the first songs they wrote together. Their harmonies and tight but slamming guitar sound rocked the room and sparked the interest of other restaurant patrons and Broadway passers-by.

After a brief intermission, the crowd was treated to a scene from Maura Mulligan’s play Brigid.

Saint Brigid (played by Katherine O’Sullivan) returns to earth with a mission to change the views of a conservative American bishop (played by Thom Moyneaux) who is trying to stop Pope Francis from considering women for leadership positions in the church. The goddess Brigid (Meg Hennessy) accompanies her namesake on the mission and wreaks quite a bit of magical havoc in the bishop’s office.

Originally from County Mayo, Maura Mulligan is the author of the memoir “Call of the Lark”. She teaches Irish language and céilí dance in New York. She’s also hosting a Samhain celebration on October 31 at Playwright Tavern – email [email protected] for more info.

Longtime AIF&A member and Show presenter Bernadette Cullen shared some poems. As with his other works, these pieces were delicately crafted and conveyed a powerful emotional resonance.

James Rogers followed, reading a short story about an elderly professor going through airport customs and utterly confused by official security guard jargon. James is from Leitrim, and his short fiction has appeared in Galway Review and Inscape, to name but two. Her first novel is due out next summer.

Kate McLeod’s monologue from her full-length play, “For The Love of Me,” was read by Meg Hennessy (which officially earned her the title of “MVP” for the night). Meg read without rehearsal, though her performance felt like she had been performing it for years. The monologue is delivered by Emilia, a housekeeper in Olana, the Hudson Valley home of painter Frederick Edwin Church. Emilia immigrated from Ireland and her start in New York is not what she and her loving father imagined for her. Instead of a pretty dress and a wedding with a lawyer, Emilia finds sewage running through the streets and big rats, and the realization that she’s left behind everything she once knew.

To close the evening, Malachy McCourt delivered his address with grace and spirit. For the evening, he shared a new meditation on time, and ended with a heartfelt dedication to all the writers and artists he has spent “thousands of yesterdays” with. Speaking of “Irish writers, singers and poets”, and specifically the IAW&A, he said “they regaled us with angry, amorous, outrageous satirical poetry”, and “you read stories short and long family songs, you sang the song”.

It would have been a fitting end to the evening, but as Malachy led the crowd in “Wild Mountain Thyme”, a blazing array of sparklers and a candlelit birthday cake arrived, to commemorate Malachy’s 91st birthday which he had celebrated the week before. .

Speaking of “writers, composers and poets,” the IAW&A pays tribute to Larry Kirwan, novelist, playwright and founder of the band Black 47 on October 24 at 6:00 p.m. The annual “Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award” is back – and in person – at Rosie O’Grady’s Skylight Room. There will be live music and a scene and song from Larry’s new musical in progress. Tickets are still available but they are going fast – visit here for information and tickets.