Larry Kirwan

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Larry Kirwan
Larry Kirwan In 2006.jpg
Background information
Born1954 (age 67–68)[1]
Wexford, Ireland
GenresPunk
Instrument(s)Vocals

Larry Kirwan (born 1954 in Wexford, Ireland) is an expatriate Irish writer and musician, most noted as the lead singer for the US rock band, Black 47 and conceiver/co-writer of Paradise Square, the Broadway Musical for which he received a Tony Award nomination.[2]

Prior to Black 47, Kirwan and fellow Wexfordian Pierce Turner were the house band in Malachy McCourt's Bells of Hell in Greenwich Village. Their music was a blend of folk, trad, progressive rock, Celtic rock and punk. Turner & Kirwan of Wexford was one of the few groups banned from CBGB’s. In the words of Hilly Kristal they were "too demonic". They then led the new wave band Major Thinkers for some years. Their song Avenue B (is the place to be) became a radio hit whereupon they were signed to Epic-Portrait Records. They recorded an album: Terrible Beauty, that was never released and after a performance in Irving Plaza on St. Patrick's Day 1985 they disbanded.

Kirwan then devoted himself to playwriting and the theatre. However, he continued to play improvisational music behind the poet, Copernicus, and in June 1989 the Copernicus band toured W. Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, and the USSR. He also formed Chill Faction with Thomas Hamlin, Major Thinkers drummer, and members of the Copernicus band, Fred Parcells, David Conrad, and Mike Fazio, all of whom would go on to play and record with Black 47.

Kirwan has written 20 plays and musicals, most of which have been performed in the United States and Europe. The plays often deal with Irish and New York history and politics. The most often produced is Liverpool Fantasy (If The Beatles hadn’t made it). Five of the plays: Liverpool Fantasy, Days of Rage, Mister Parnell, Blood and Night in the Garden are published in the book, Mad Angels. Kirwan collaborated on a musical: Transport, with Australian author Thomas Keneally that was produced at The Irish Repertory Theater in NYC in 2014. On April 3, 2022 his Broadway debut Paradise Square opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre after successful runs at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2019 and at The Nederlander Theatre in Chicago 2021l.

Kirwan formed Black 47 with Chris Byrne in late 1989 after a jam in Paddy Reilly's Pub in Manhattan. The band has released 16 CDs including Fire of Freedom (1993) containing the hit Funky Ceili; Iraq (2008) and Bankers and Gangsters (2010). Black 47 performed approximately 2500 shows before disbanding Nov. 14th, 2014 after their final gig at BB Kings, NYC

Since April 2005, he has hosted Celtic Crush, a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio that features artists from the 8 Celtic nations who play a wide variety of genres. He also writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo. He has published several books, including a novel version of Liverpool Fantasy and after: Rockin' The Bronx was published in February 2010. “Kirwan’s latest novel, Rockaway Blue” was published in 2021 by Three Hills/Cornell University Press.

In 2013 he co-produced a various artists compilation for Valley Entertainment titled Larry Kirwan's Celtic Invasion.[3] Kirwan was a founding member of Irish American Writers & Artists and served as president for five years. On October 24th he will receive the organization’s 2022 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kirwan was a founding member of Irish American Writers & Artists and served as president for five years. On October 24th he will receive the organization’s 2022 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award.


Criticism[edit]

His band has been described as 'the musical wing of the IRA’, [4][5] which was a paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland and was designated a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland. The IRA have been held responsible for the killing of 1,705 people during The Troubles.[6]

Discography[edit]

Larry Kirwan visiting Barnes & Noble Tribeca's yearly Tribute to James Joyce.
  • 1971 - Aftermath - We Have No More Babies Left/Neck and Neck(Original Version)
  • 1973 - Turner and Kirwan of Wexford - Neck and Neck(New Version)/When Starlings Fly
  • 1974 - Turner and Kirwan of Wexford - Bootleg
  • 1978 - Turner and Kirwan of Wexford - Absolutely and Completely
  • 1979 - Heretix - The Book of The Law
  • 1979 - Major Thinkers - Back in the 80’s/Farewell to the Coast (single)
  • 1982 - Major Thinkers – Avenue B is the Place to Be (single)
  • 1982 - Major Thinkers – Major Thinkers (Independent LP)
  • 1983 - Major Thinkers – Major Thinkers (EP Epic-Portrait)
  • 1984 - Major Thinkers – Terrible Beauty
  • 1987 - Chill Faction - Eggman on the Deuce
  • 1989 - Black 47 - Home of the Brave/Live in London
  • 1991 - Black 47 - Black 47
  • 1992 - Black 47 - Black 47 EP
  • 1993 - Black 47 - Fire of Freedom
  • 1994 - Black 47 - Home of the Brave
  • 1996 - Black 47 - Green Suede Shoes
  • 1998 - Larry Kirwan - Keltic Kids
  • 1999 - Black 47 - Live in New York City
  • 1999 - Larry Kirwan & Black 47 – I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore
  • 2000 - Black 47 - Ten Bloody Years of Black 47
  • 2000 - Black 47 - Trouble in the Land
  • 2001 - Larry Kirwan - Kilroy Was Here
  • 2001 - Black 47 - On Fire
  • 2004 - Black 47 - New York Town
  • 2005 - Black 47 - Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes
  • 2006 - Black 47 - Bittersweet Sixteen
  • 2008 - Black 47 - Iraq
  • 2010 - Black 47 - Bankers and Gangsters
  • 2011 - Black 47 - A Funky Ceili
  • 2012 - Larry Kirwan & Ashley Davis – Happy Xmas (War is Over)
  • 2013 - Various Artists - Larry Kirwan's Celtic Invasion[3]
  • 2014 - Black 47 – Last Call

Bibliography[edit]

  • Mad Angels (1993), Collection of five plays
  • Livin' In America (2004), The Songs and Stories of Black 47
  • Liverpool Fantasy (2003), Alternative history novel surrounding the Beatles after breaking up early in their career
  • Green Suede Shoes: An Irish-American Odyssey (2005), Autobiography
  • Rockaway Blue: A Novel. (2021) - a novel set in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • Rockin' The Bronx: - a novel set in the Bronx in 1980-82 around the time of the passing of John Lennon and Bobby Sands.

Plays and Musicals[edit]

  • 1. Liverpool Fantasy - 1986 – Charas/Irish Arts Center/Dublin Theatre Festival
  • 2. Days of Rage (Musical) – 1989 – Hudson Guild Theatre, NYC
  • 3. Mister Parnell (Musical – 1992 – Synchronicity Space, NYC
  • 4. Blood - 1993 – Synchronicity Space, NYC
  • 5. Night in the Garden – 1995 – Synchronicity Space, NYC
  • 6. The Poetry of Stone - 1998 – Synchronicity Space, NYC
  • 7. Against The Grain (Hip-Hop Musical) – 1999 – Chelsea Playhouse, NYC
  • 8. Rockin’ The Bronx - 1999 – Lehman Center for Performing Arts
  • 9. Groundhog Day – 2000 – Miranda Theatre Company
  • 10.Teddy Boy (Musical) - 2003 – Workshop Production
  • 11.The Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own – 2007 – Boomerang Theatre Company
  • 12.Transport (Musical written with Tom Keneally) 2012 – Irish Rep Theatre
  • 13.Hard Times (Musical) – 2012 & 2013 – The Cell, NYC
  • 14.Rebel in the Soul - 2017 – Irish Repertory Theatre, NYC
  • 15.IRAQ (Musical) 2018 – Workshop Montclair University NJ
  • 16.The Catacombs/Life & Times of Brendan Behan (Musical) 2019
  • 17.The Informer 2021 – ongoing readings Actors Gym
  • 18.All The Rage (Musical) 2022 – Workshop, The Cell, NYC
  • 19.Paradise Square (Musical written with Craig Lucas, Christina Anderson) Opens April 3, 2022, Barrymore Theatre NYC


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Larry Kirwan." Biographical note for Irish American Oral History interview held at NYU's Ireland House.
  2. ^ "The noughties, a decade of great Irish American music | IrishCentral". 13 January 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Larry Kirwan's Celtic Invasion". Valley Entertainment. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Accidental concert shooting and car crashes - Life on the road continues for Black 47". IrishCentral.com. 17 May 2019.
  6. ^ Quilligan, Michael (2013). Understanding Shadows: The Corrupt Use of Intelligence. Clarity Press. ISBN 978-0985335397.

External links[edit]