Fri, Sep

Rockin the Bronx



 In this big, passionate, colourful novel the Bronx is burning in 1980-82, Bobby Sands is dying, John Lennon is being stalked, the Reagan Revolution has begun and AIDS is about to be identified. But life goes on in the immigrant bars of Bainbridge Avenue as Sean arrives from Ireland looking for his girlfriend, Mary, and finds a lot more than he bargained for. Danny McCorley is a new type of gay hero: a hard-hitting, book-loving, immigrant construction worker with a shadowy past in the Irish Republican movement.

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Larry Kirwan (born in Wexford, Ireland) is an expatriate Irish writer and musician, most noted as the lead singer for the New York based Irish rock band, Black 47.

Prior to Black 47, Kirwan and fellow Wexfordian Pierce Turner were the house band in Malachy McCourt's Bells of Hell in Greenwich Village. The music was an amalgam of Folk, Trad, Progressive Rock, Punk, and any other genre that came to mind. The group was one of the few banned from CBGB's; in the words of Hilly they were "too demonic." However, all was forgiven for they played a number of times at the club thereafter. 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 went their separate ways after a somewhat memorable performance in Irving Plaza on St. Patrick's Day, 1985.

Kirwan has also written and produced eleven plays and musicals, many of which have been performed in the United States and Europe. The plays deal with many topics including Irish history and politics. The most popular however is Liverpool Fantasy, a "what if" the Beatles had broken up while recording Please Please Me and never made it.

Kirwan formed Black 47 with Chris Byrne in late 1989 after a jam in Paddy Reilly's Pub in Manhattan.

Since April 2005, he has hosted Celtic Crush, a radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio that features Celtic artists from a wide variety of genres. He also writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo. He has had three books published, a novel version of Liverpool Fantasy; Green Suede Shoes, a memoir, and Mad Angels a collection of plays. A new novel, Rockin' The Bronx, will be published in Feb. 2010. He is currently collaborating with Thomas Keneally on a musical, Transport.

He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, having emigrated in the 70's.


"Larry Kirwan writes with all the charm of his music. This is Angela's Ashes for a new generation." Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's List 

Kirwan’s second novel (after Liverpool Fantasy) is a tremendous rock ’n’ roll saga. It is the early Eighties, and Sean Kelly has fled Ireland to pursue the love of his life, the mysterious Mary Devine. He finally locates her in a Bronx tenement, where she lives with Kate and Danny, two other undocumented Irish drifting in Reagan’s America, working menial jobs by day and drinking their earnings in the pubs at night. Estranged from Mary, Sean and Danny together forge an unusual and resilient friendship. And they start a band. At the pinnacle of their success, Sean blows it for everyone because of Mary, and Danny vanishes. Throughout, Sean scurries from heartache to heartache, breaks a few hearts himself, and finally stumbles into a bruising wisdom that allows him to reconcile with those he loves most. VERDICT Frontman for the legendary Irish American band Black 47, the prolific Kirwan offers writing about the transformative and curative powers of music and performance that is brilliant on its own, but his lovingly rendered portrait of American and Irish social and political realities in the 1980s is both brutal and magical.—J. Greg Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman