Karen daly

Yet another ‘great night!’ at Thalia Café

By Charles Hale

One of the outgrowths and benefits of the Irish American Writers & Artists’ salons has been the increasing number of collaborations among its members. There were many wonderful presentations before a standing-room-only crowd at the Thalia Cafe, but two fine performances highlighted the collaborative talents of four members – two writers and two singers.

Inspired by a New York Times story about the Brooklyn apartment where she grew up, Karen Daly presented an evocative tribute to her grandmother titled, “Mama’s Window.” Karen pictured her grandmother keeping watch on her from a building on Lincoln Place, and showed how the little girl would come to resemble her grandmother in so many ways.

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Karen movingly described her grandparents’ marriage and her grandmother’s desolation at her husband’s death. The emotion was perfectly expressed when singer Jack Di Monte joined Karen and sang a beautiful rendition of Irving Berlin’s “When I Lost You.” This seamless collaboration resulted from an offhand chat at a prior salon.

Maura Mulligan has read a number of passages from her engaging memoir, “Call of the Lark,” but Maura showed her true roots as a storyteller when she recounted the night she left her home in County Mayo for America, evoking the Ireland of her childhood with images of the turf fire, the boxty and butter-making. Singer Vera Wrenn joined Maura, enhancing the story with a beautiful rendition of “Moonlight in Mayo” and “The Bold Fenian Men.”

Sarah Fearon work-shopped some new comedy material. Some of her ideas included dealing with the beginning of the end of the world, and getting old. Sarah also riffed on thinking outside the box before we wind up inside the box, and a new discovery revealed from Jesus’ shroud, which suggests that God was originally from New York. And my favorite: Sarah wondered why doctors ask us “What are we doing here today?” From the crowd's response, a good percentage of Sarah's material is worth developing.

Our thoughts went to the victims of hurricane Sandy when Maureen Hossbacher read a poignant excerpt from her novel-in-progress, “The Grand March.” The excerpt, set in Rockaway Beach of the 1950s, introduced us to Nance Moran, a young girl wrangling with the dissonance between sexuality and Catholicism. No doubt many in the captivated audience could relate to similar childhood awakenings and dilemmas.

Malachy McCourt closed the evening with a song, “Isn’t it Grand Boys to be Bloody Well Dead.” After the applause and cheers subsided, Malachy called out “Great night!” Indeed it was.

For more about the Irish American Artists and Writers contact Charles R. Hale at chashale1@yahoo.com

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