Aidan connolly irish arts center

Array of talent at 6th annual NYNB

Playwright Brona Crehan

By Peter McDermott

Although business, trade and investment will get plenty of air time at the 6th annual New York-New Belfast Conference next week, the arts won’t be neglected. Far from it. An array of actors, directors and authors will lead and participate in several panel discussions at the Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, on June 3, 4 and 5.

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The Irish Echo’s own Michael Gray will speak on “Belfast and Irish America: Getting to Know You?” Gray, the author of “Stills, Reels and Rushes: Ireland and the Irish in Twentieth Century Cinema,” will be joined by fellow Echo columnist Terry Golway, Charlotte Moore, artistic director of the Irish Repertory Theatre, and Sammy Douglas, who is a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The session will be chaired by Lorraine Turner, head of the New York office of the Northern Ireland Bureau, at 7:50 p.m. on Thursday evening.

On the same evening, actor and poet Michael O’Keefe will speak on “The Healing Power of Art.” O’Keefe got an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award for his second film, “The Great Santini” (1979), and followed up in the role of Danny Noonan in “Caddyshack.” In more recent times, he has featured in “Michael Clayton” and “American Violet” and the TV series “Homeland.”

Fellow panelists are Patricia Corbett, CEO Hillsborough Castle, artist and documentarian Marcus Robinson (“Rebuilding the World Trade Center”) and Brona Crehan, who produced and directed her play “Pillow on the Stairs” in Manhattan this past spring. John Lee, of the Irish American Writers & Artists, will chair the session at 6:45 p.m.

The Irish Arts Center's Aidan Connolly.

On the same evening at 8:30, Anita Daly will be at the helm for the session entitled “Making Belfast and New York Partners in Arts and Culture,” featuring Linda Martin, Ciarán O’Reilly, Peter Quinn, John Kearns, Darrah Carr, Kevin Gamble, Daniel McCabe, Tara O’Grady and George Heslin.

Among those also scheduled to speak at the Fordham conference are Aidan Connolly of the Irish Arts Center, balladeer Anthony Toner, poet Christopher Cahill, actress Geraldine Hughes, academic and author Michael Sorkin, artist Mac Premo and Molloy College Irish-language tutor Jerry Kelly.

For the full schedule and other conference details, go to