Irish American Writers & Artists has chosen Joanie Madden to be honored with the 10th Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for her groundbreaking charge against male dominance in the Irish traditional music sphere and her successful international career.

Irish American Writers & Artists (IAW&A) was formed in 2008 when it was suggested that Irish Americans would not vote for an African-American candidate.

Well, we not only voted for Barack Obama, we helped elect him, thus dispatching nativist propaganda that’s been doing the rounds since the Draft Riots of 1863.

If electing a black president seemed like a noble, if uphill, job then compare it to living in our current society where the truth is constantly called into question – by a president, no less.

That behavior is anathema to IAW&A because truth is essential for working artists. It’s the one beacon we have to guide us through a landscape that promises little in the way of financial security or reward.

Very few make a living from our endeavors. Most support themselves through day jobs, and devote their spare hours to their real work, be it novels, plays, videos, performance, songs, you name it!

Joanie Madden is an exception. Not only is she a groundbreaker who helped lead the charge against male dominance in Irish Traditional Music, she has also carved out a successful international career with Cherish The Ladies.

For those reasons and others, Irish American Writers & Artists has chosen her as the 10th recipient of our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award.

Phil Donahue will present Joanie with the O’Neill at a festive evening on Monday, November 12, at the Manhattan Club, upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s.

Past awardees have included William Kennedy, Brian Dennehy, Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly of the Irish Rep, Judy Collins, John Patrick Shanley, Pete Hamill, Patricia Harty, Phil Donohue, and that scourge of all reactionaries, Malachy McCourt. Many of the aforementioned will attend.

As someone who has shared festival stages all over the country with Cherish The Ladies I can testify that Joanie is as popular backstage as she is with her many fans.

She has a smile for everyone and lends a discreet helping hand for those in need. Not to mention that her pioneering collaboration with symphony orchestras will continue to open doors for many other driven musicians.

Irish American Writers & Artists hosts just one annual major event to fund our activities – we do not come knocking often!

Many consider our O’Neill evening to be one of the highlights of the social season; at the very least you get to rub shoulders with the mighty and the considerably less so – there’ll be plenty of both in attendance on Nov. 12th.

With Joanie and various musical cohorts in attendance, the Manhattan Club will be pulsing with tunes, and no doubt many a Celtic twinkle toes will take to the floor.

So come on down and salute the lady! Remember that any monies raised will go to promoting salons, funding various artistic endeavors, and supporting worthy causes here and overseas.

IAW&A is open for membership to all artists, but one of our aims is to give the plumber in The Bronx a chance to become the new Colm Tóibín and the nurse from Staten Island a shot at emulating Saoirse Ronan.

We have no barriers of class, religion, education, or nationality - you just need a genuine desire to express yourself in your particular artistic form.

Annual membership costs less than a halfway decent night on the town. For details go to where you can also find out about our various admission-free salons.

After five years as president, I’ll be stepping down on Nov. 12th. Mary Pat Kelly, a founding member of IAW&A, will succeed me and Maria Deasy will become Vice-President.

Our organization is strong – we have members in most US states now, and our salons are popping up all over the country.

We’re about to begin an association with the Sean O’Casey Theatre in Dublin’s dockland. This will hopefully redress the one-way artistic traffic between Ireland and the US, and give Irish-American artists a sorely needed opportunity to display their talents on a Dublin stage.

Bring your sense of truth, justice and, most of all, fun to midtown on Nov. 12th when we honor Joanie Madden, a woman who has changed the way we listen to music in America.

IAW&A Eugene O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, Monday, November 12, 2018, at the Manhattan Club/Rosie O'Grady's, 800 7th Avenue (at 52nd Street), 6 p.m.

Tickets & Information at

Larry Kirwan was the leader of Black 47 for 25 years.  He has written 16 plays and musicals, his latest Paradise Square will open in Berkeley Rep in January.  He has written three novels, a memoir, and A History of Irish Music.  He hosts and produces Celtic Crush on SiriusXM Radio and writes a bi-weekly column for The Irish Echo.

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