Colin Dunne

How It’s New York:  Irish Arts Center has been a New York Institution since its founding in 1972 (filmmaker Jim Sheridan was one of the Founding Fathers, you can hear him on this week’s podcast!).  I’m excited for the money it has received from the City of New York and the Irish Government for a   new building (and hurray for Ireland, and New York, for investing in the arts even as the economy tanks) but happy it will stay around its Hell’s Kitchen roots on 11th and 51st.  It’s whatever the Urban equivalent of the Catskills’ “Rustic” down there.  I love it.
How It’s Irish:  All arts Irish converge here. It’s where the elite meet.  Regularly.  And like the good citizens they are, their newsletters regularly promote other Irish events around town.  It would be perfect if only it served Guinness on tap (for that, head over to Druid or The Landmark Tavern, both regular IAC haunts0.

Ciaran O’Reilly, John Jo (RSC actor), Peter Quinn

Two weeks ago the Irish Arts Center launched their fall season with  a reception at the Residence of the Consul General, Noel Kilkenny.  We will go to just about any party there for any reason, as it’s in a penthouse with views of the East River and the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, but we’ll also turn out for the Irish Arts Center because they are always doing such wonderful things.  I will be covering many of these in more detail as we get closer to the time, but here are some of the highlights, mark your calendars now!  Their fall season officially begins September 7, and this is the last week to get discounts.  Spotted at the party:  Ciaran O’Reilly, Dan Neely, Peter Quinn, Barbara Hammond, Fiona Walsh, Paul Keating, Darrah Carr, Dan Neely, Ruda Dauphin… and many more, including of course, the Irish Arts Center’s Rachael Gilkey, Aidan Connolly, and New York Irish Arts’ Lucy Healy-Kelly. 

Really Irish Arts Center is your one-stop shopping for music and dance classes, and all kinds of Irish arts events– dance, literary, film, theatre.  Most of the vents take place at the Center on 51st and 11th (right across from the Daily Show, and one of the show’s producers, Ian Berger, was at the reception as well!), but others take place around town and/or are collaborations with  the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a very comfortable venue on 37th and 10th, Symphony Space, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.  Here’s some of what’s coming up:

DANCE: Out of Time by Colin Dunne. In a first-time collaboration with New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center, the New York premiere of internationally-acclaimed step-dancer Colin Dunne’s (former lead dancer of Riverdance) intimate and playful work brings together sound, image and movement. From October 19th to 22nd at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. 

THEATRE: Bogboy by Deirdre Kinahan.  Deirdre’s short Hue and Cry was one of the hits of last year’s 1st Irish Festival, with raves in the New York Times, among others.   Her writing is luminous– truthful, dense, and focused.   Now her full-length Bogboy will appear as part of 1st Irish 2011, New York’s annual festival of Irish theatre.  It’s a coproduction with Deirdre’s  Tall Tales Theatre Company and the Solstice Arts Centre, directed by  Jo Mangan. Running from September 7th to 25th (opening night is Sunday September 11)  the play weaves together three stories of lost people:  a young boy from Belfast, a struggling Dublin heroin addict and a reclusive local farmer.  Sorcha Fox, who starred in The Cambria at IAC a few years ago (I wrote about it for the Wall Street Journal), appears.  

MUSIC: Iarla Ó Lionáird meets Ivan Goff in the sixth installment of the acclaimed Masters in Collaboration series. This series always excites– I’ve written about Athena Tergis/Bill Whelan for Irish Examiner USAand John Doyle/Andy Irvine for Irish ConnectionsThis time it’s sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, from Ireland (he was the voice of Afro-Celt Sound System, too), and uilleann piper and flutist Ivan Goff, an Irish native living in New York.The goal is to put artists together from different genres or generations and just– see what happens!  Two  concert performances on October 1st and 2nd, following a collaborative residency which also includes an evening of conversation with the artists on September 28th (which sadly I’ll have to miss as it’s the night Rosh Hashana begins.  Boo).

A Tribute to Harrigan and Hart, The Original Men Who Owned Broadway, from Mick Moloney, Thursday, Oct. 13.  On stage will be:  Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks (they’re doing the music for television’s Boardwalk Empire which will be returning this fall!); The Green Fields of America: Athena Tergis, Billy McComiskey, Brendan Dolan, Niall O’Leary Dana Lyn; Susan McKeown 
Poor Baby Bree John Roberts ;  Murray Callahan  Chris Simmons ; Maureen Murphy
The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.. and more…  This extravaganza from the man who brought us the tribute to the McNulty family (I blogged it here!) and If It Weren’t for the Irish and the Jews (which I wrote about for Irish Music Magazine  as well as Irish Examiner) comes to us in association with the American Irish Historical Society; the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors; City Lore; Glucksman Ireland House-New York University; and Lower East Side Tenement Museum, at Symphony Space.

“H-a- double r- I- g-a-n spells Harrigan.”‘
If you’re like many musical theatre fans, that might be all you know about Harrigan– that George M. Cohan loved him (admit it, you’re singing the song).  The songs of Edward “Ned” Harrigan, Irish American tunesmith and playwright, were the toast of New York in the 1870s.  Mick’s been talking about these fellows for years, and the hundred year anniversary of the death of Ned Harrigan is a great time to present this as a multi-media (slides!  music!  theatre?) event.  Exepct to learn about Ned, partner Tony Hart, and David Braham. 

LITERATURE: IAC will hold its third annual PoetryFest  November 4th to 6th— curated by Solace novelist Belinda McKeon, who spoke on this week’s podcast (here’s my Irish Examiner USA article about the event when it debuted !), with Aengus Woods.  This showcase will include  a special tribute to the distinguished and influential Thomas Kinsella as well as readings, conversations and a screening. Featured poets are Nick Laird, Michael Longley, Dennis O’Driscoll, Leanne O’Sullivan and David Wheatley.

  Of course, this is hardly the only literary event IAC is having!  Eoin Colfer  reads from Plugged  on September 18; and on a date to be named later(how appropriate, for sports journalists) Dan Barry and Jimmy Breslin will read….

FILM: The fall season will have three screenings:  the first is one I’m particularly excited about, because it’s about the session at Dempsey’s– the longest trad Irish music session in the city!  Producer Sam Adelman and Director Elzbleta Szoka’s Beautiful People is a must see, and will screen October 6.  Bet you’ll see some folks you know in it (Peggy O’Mahoney, John Nevins, I’m looking at you).  There will be a seisiun after the screening! Build Something Modern tells the story of a hidden canon of Irish architecture from the 1950s-70s, on November 15th; and Cup Cake, December 13th,  is the story of a 23-year-old man, who lives in a world of robots, gadgets and bad cakes.

VISUAL ART:  From the Crucible: An Exhibition of Bronze Sculpture by Colm Brennan and Leo

Oystercatchers, by Colm Brennan

Higgins  This exhibit features 24 new bronze sculptures from masters Colm Brennan, whosesculptures link to his childhood in County Mayo, and Leo Higgins, whose abstracts explore nature.

: To Love Two Countries: Ireland’s Greatest Generation in America :  This is the second installment of John Minihan’s black and white photographic portraits of the Irish men and women who emigrated to the New England area in the first half of the 20th century continues to tour with openings in Connecticut this August and Springfield, MA from September 29th-October 28th.


Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.