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IAW&A Bestows First Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on O’Neill’s Birthday

Since most Times Square Starbucks customers don’t read the bronze plaque at the entrance, they’re unaware their coffee is being brewed at an historic site. Over a century ago, in a hotel that stood there at 43rd and Broadway, Eugene O’Neill, “America’s Greatest Playwright” as the plaque proclaims, known for such masterworks as Mourning Becomes ElectraStrange Interludes, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh and A Moon for the Misbegotten, was born on October 16, 1908.

This October 16, 2009, just a few blocks north of O’Neill’s birthplace, Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. (IAW&A) will commemorate the 101st anniversary of O’Neill’s birth with its inaugural Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Celebration, an informal, festive cocktail reception at The Manhattan Club, the private rooms above Rosie O’Grady’s, at 800 7th Ave, at 52nd St, beginning at 6:00 PM.

The first O’Neill Award will go to Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy, best known for his masterful Albany Cycle of novels focused on the Irish-American Phelan family: LegsBilly Phelan’s Greatest Game, and Ironweed.

Writer/director John Patrick Shanley, actors Matt Dillon and Michael O’Keefe, actor/writer Malachy McCourt and other special guests will read from both O’Neill and Kennedy.  Noted New York Times journalist Dan Barry will present Kennedy with the Tiffany crystal O’Neill Award. The music of Celtic singer/songwriter Ashley Davis will add to the celebration. Also on hand, mingling with the celebrants will be writers T.J. English, Mary Pat Kelly, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Peter Quinn and other notables.

T.J. English, co-founder of IAW&A, said, “O’Neill’s work is filled with joy, poignancy, music, drunkenness and exaltation — we hope to partake in all of the above on October 16th, as we honor the memory of O’Neill and also celebrate the achievements of one of his literary offspring, the great William Kennedy.”

For a lively night of literary libation, featuring an open bar, a full range of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, register now online All attendees will receive Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc membership for a year, and the first 250 online registrants will also receive a free one-year subscription to Irish American Magazine.

Founded and operated as a non-profit organization, Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. celebrates the achievements of Irish American writers, artists, actors, filmmakers and musicians, past and present, and works to highlight, energize and encourage Irish Americans working in the arts.

The IAW&A will give the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award annually to an Irish American who has created a body of work that places them among the great artists and entertainers of all time.  With four Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize, playwright Eugene O’Neill embodied the highest level of artistic achievement. Born in a Times Square hotel, O’Neill died on November 27, 1953, in a Boston hotel.  Allegedly, his last words were, “Born in a hotel room, and goddammit! Died in one!”