Novelist Alice McDermott
By Ray O’Hanlon
Irish America’s Aos Dána – artists and actors, poets and performers, step-dancers and scribes – will be feted this Friday April 23 at the inaugural Irish Echo Arts & Culture Awards.
The virtual event (from 6 p.m. Eastern) will pay homage to forty honorees who used Irish arts and culture to keep spirits high during the first long year of the pandemic. There will be a special shout out for literary luminaries, novelist Alice McDermott from Washington, D.C., and poet Thomas Lynch from Michigan.
The recipients of the Irish Arts & Culture Medal represent a veritable who’s-who of Irish American endeavor including singer Ken O’Malley of Los Angeles who has staged a free virtual concert every Sunday for the past year; Megan Derrig, occupational physiotherapist from Chicago who uses Irish music to empower older people; Tony Reilly of Portland, Maine, founder of the American Irish Repertory Ensemble, whose recovery from a horrific road crash inspired a one-man play; Elizabeth Stack of Albany, NY, who led the move of the Irish American Heritage Museum during the worst of the pandemic and ensured activities continued unabated over the past year.
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Another honoree will be the incomparable Malachy McCourt, who will be presented with the Seanchaí Award.
Guest speaker at the event will be Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb from Pittsburgh, a tireless advocate for all things Irish American. Tickets ($9) for the Arts & Culture awards can be obtained via our website at www.irishecho.com where you can also vote for your Arts Hero of the Pandemic. Voting closes at noon on Friday, April 23.
Sponsors of the event, which will be coordinated from studios in Ireland, include Foras na Gaeilge, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Partnership, Culture Ireland, Aer Lingus, and the NI Bureau. Special awards from Foras na Gaeilge, for the person or group which did the most to promote the Irish language during lockdown, and from the AOH for the best community-orientated nominee, will also be presented.
Said Irish Echo Publisher Máirtín Ó Muilleoir: “Over the past year, our artists across the U.S. stood between the Irish American community and the Covid-19 chasm.
“Their determination and exuberance in these most testing of times pulled the community through. This Arts & Culture celebration allows all of Irish American to acknowledge their tireless efforts and to thank them for keeping spirits high.”
The awards will be highlighted by a special supplement that will appear in next week’s print issue of the Echo out on Wednesday, April 28. The supplement will also be posted live at www.irishecho.com this Friday, April 23, in conjunction with the online event.