Tom alone

Literary day marked by ‘invigorating’ night

Salon Diary / By Karen Daly

Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan.

The IAW&A Salon at the Cell Theatre occurred on that revered date in the Irish cultural calendar: Bloomsday. Despite many competing events around town, we had a great crowd enjoying a night that was variously described as “raucous,” “invigorating” and “inspiring.” The line-up featured our first mini film festival, arranged by Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan, as well as poetry, fiction, stories, song and of course, the famous Molly Bloom. In honor of the wanderings of Ulysses and Leopold Bloom, several odysseys were presented throughout the evening.

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Poet Tony Pena got us off to a roaring start with three poems: “A dance before New York,” and his Irish tribute “Upon kissing a Celtic princess” and “The island of untitled poems,” which implores poets to name their works.

Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan introduced the first brief film segment. “The Irish Tapes,” produced by John Reilly and Stefan Moore in association with Global Village. Reilly and Moore shot over 100 hours of footage on videotape in Northern Ireland from 1971-1973. Our sample showed a man on short release from Long Kesh prison to get married.

The three other segments were interspersed during the night. They included “Guard Vincent: Fatima Mansions Beat,” in which filmmakers McCourt and Sullivan in 1999 followed police officer Vincent on his beat in one of the toughest housing projects in Dublin. The result was a cinéma vérité look at the people, the place and the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and systemic dysfunction. Filmmakers are trying to do a follow-up and return to the place and re-visit the people Vincent encountered on his beat.

In “Camino by Sea,” filmmaker Dónal Ó Céilleachair documents what happens when a writer, a musician, an artist and a stonemason follow an ancient route from Ireland to Spain in a daring voyage.

And finally came “Lazarus Running,” a tale of redemption and salvation in the story of “Guinness Book of World Records” marathon runner and New York City bar owner Tom McGrath, who was on hand at the Salon to share his story.

Tom McGrath.

Next up your Salon Diarist read a piece of memoir called “Listen.”

John McDonagh told the story of “How the Irish peace process cost me one million dollars.” He and a friend spent seven long days in Los Angeles auditioning for “The Amazing Race,” which he calls “one of a long list of reality TV shows that I was rejected from.”

Another New Yorker’s story came from Jack DiMonte. A young man showed up at his door at 3 a.m. with an improbable tale about an acquaintance of Jack’s, a neighbor who had been in a car accident in the Bronx and needed $22 to get home in a taxi. He gave over the money, but the twist was about how he was reimbursed and the famous person involved.

Salon producer and the night’s host John Kearns read an excerpt about Sarsfield Logan, S.J., from his multi-generational novel in progress, “Worlds.”

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Margaret McCarthy read her poem “The Tangible Illumination of Summer” from her poetry collection “Notebooks from Mystery School.” She read: “One morning I sank into summer and summer sank into me; unexpectedly.”

Tom Mahon, then, read a chilling story called “Revenge” from his collection.

Every Bloomsday celebration needs a Molly Bloom and we were privileged to have Nicola Murphy perform a ravishing soliloquy. An accomplished actor, seen this year in the Irish Rep’s “Da.”

An “Ulysses-ian” evening concluded with our own guitarists Brendan Costello and John Kearns accompanying soulful singer Guenevere Donohue on three Joyce-inspired selections: Tom Waits’s mournful neo-trad “The Briar and the Rose,” a rockin’ Doors sea-song, “Land Ho!”, and an IAW&A sing along about Dublin’s sweet “Molly Malone.”

A longer version of the Salon Diary, with links and contact information, can be found at The next Salon takes place on Tuesday, July 7, at Bar Thalia, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, beginning at 6 p.m.