New York — Larry Kirwan dates back to the roots of his novel “Rock Away Blue” on Saturday nights after September 11, 2001, when his band Black 47 played the Connollies Pub in Manhattan. The crowd looked at the door each time it opened and cheered at the familiar face.
Johnny is here! Mary is here! They are alive.
The Black 47 captivates a working-class Irish-American audience, reflecting what they saw on stage, including many of the police and firefighters who were downgraded after responding to the World Trade Center attack. bottom.
The characters in “Rockaway Blue” are drawn from their audience from the Rockaway Beach section of Queens, NY. It’s the “Black 47 Country”, full of people that Kirwan is familiar with.
Kirwan, 66, a prolific writer of novels, plays and songs, said: “I lost two good friends, but I didn’t lose my family. It’s really fierce. No one else is going to do it, so I really give it back to people, I wanted to talk about them. “
In the book, Jimmy Murphy is a retired New York City detective, and his golden boy’s son, Brian, also a police officer, died after rushing into the North Tower. The father embarks on a secret search for Brian’s death.
It’s shorthand. Through it, Brian’s death affected his wife, his firefighter brothers, his mother, and most severely, his father, who had already survived the career ladder, in a diverse and complex way. Learn how.
Kirwan wasn’t happy because he created a similar character on Black 47’s 2004 album “New York Town.” He unfolded the story of the play, “The heart has its own heart,” but Kirwan cursed himself when he heard the audience’s applause on the opening night.
He felt he wasn’t nailing Jimmy, who was fooling his wife in the opening scene of the play. Jimmy did most of the time in “Rock Away Blue” with a colleague at the bar where he worked, but his wife, Maggie, fights for him.
“I started seeing that if you were going to get this story, you had to get into the minds of these characters and you couldn’t do that much in the play,” Kirwan said. I did. “I realized that what was missing in the story was the author’s voice.”
It took nearly 20 years and now I’m proud of the story.
“I’m proud to have it,” said Kirwan, who grew up in Wexford, Ireland and came to New York in the 1970s. “I know what it is. It summarizes that the New York regulars who have experienced this, lost someone, or were deeply influenced by it, are resonating with people. I know that. “
Until it was said in 2014 that it would end in 25 years, Kirwan’s main creative outlet was the Black 47. It started playing with nannies and construction workers in the Irish pub of Bronx. The noisy band combined Kirwan’s love for Bob Dylan’s poetry with the traditional Irish instrument, the Crash crunch and loud guitar. Politics was important, but so was the story of a drifter who fell in love who drunk and crashed his old flame party at “Maria’s Wedding.”
Politics was uncompromising, and Black 47 lost momentum when the anti-war message of the 2008 album “Iraq” caused divisions among fans. As Kirwan says, many of those songs came from conversations with disillusioned believers since 9/11.
“Many of them wanted to do something for the country, so they joined (in the army),” he said. “The next thing they knew they were in Baghdad was shot in the civil war.”
After Black 47, Kirwan continues to be a major cultural figure in the Irish-American community of New York. In addition to his writing, he hosts the weekly program “Celtic Crush” on SiriusXM satellite radio.
He hopes that the musical “Paradise Square,” co-authored with free black residents of New York City and Irish immigrants in the mid-1800s, will be staged on Broadway next year.
Through his work, writer and private detective Jim Malverny speaks to the Irish-American community, just as journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill went to the older generation.
“He publicly announces stories we might tell each other, such as love of words, love of music, love of friends,” Mulvaney said. “It’s a huge part of the Irish experience we brought here.”
Kirwan dedicates “Rock Away Blue” to two friends of Black 47, who died on September 11. Father Mychal Judge was well known as a pastor of the New York City Fire Department. Kirwan often saw him from the Black 47 gig stage in New York, dressed as a Catholic priest with elbows at the bar, but later learned that the judge did not drink.
Richard T. Maldowney Jr., a firefighter on Engine 16 and Ladder 7, was lesser known, but less important to the band.
Maldowny often participated in Black 47 gigs outside the town, where he aroused the audience’s enthusiasm for bands they might not be familiar with. According to Kirwan, he didn’t inform Black 47 of his presence until Black 47 went on stage.
“At that moment you knew it would be a great gig,” he said.
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