The Pittsfield Cultural Council hosts a reading and book signing with award-winning Pittsfield author and storyteller Kevin O’Hara on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7pm at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret, located on the lower level of Barrington Stage Company’s Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center at 36 Linden St. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30pm. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Donations will be accepted at the door for the Pittsfield Cultural Council’s Art Scholarship fund. The scholarship is awarded annually by the Pittsfield Cultural Council to a local high school student who is pursuing studies in the performing, literary or visual arts.
O’Hara’s presentation includes readings from his books Last of the Donkey Pilgrims and A Lucky Irish Lad and a special preview of his highly anticipated volume Memoirs of a Bearded Nurse, scheduled for publication late in 2014. Memoirs of a Bearded Nurse recounts the O’Hara’s experiences as a staff and charge nurse for over 30 years at Berkshire Medical Center’s locked psychiatric unit.
According to the Kirkus Review, “O’Hara’s writing is like the Irish fog…it’s both glowing and lightly pushed by an unacknowledged melancholy.”
Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, published in 2004, chronicles O’Hara’s travels with a donkey named Missie and a cart along the coast of Ireland. In 2010, the Christian Science Monitor ranked the book as one of the Top Ten Irish Books of all time.
A Lucky Irish Lad, published in 2010, is a collection of 70 short stories focused on O’Hara’s experiences growing up in Pittsfield as an Irish American in the 1950s and ’60s —from the author’s journey crossing from England (by way of Ireland) to the United States as a young boy on the Queen Elizabeth to his return home after his tour as a soldier in the Vietnam War. Pulitzer Prize-winner Debby Applegate says that “Kevin O’Hara deserves a prominent place in the long tradition of the Berkshire’s finest storytellers.” New York Times bestselling author Patrick Taylor (An Irish Country Doctor) called O’Hara’s memoirs a “tour de force.
In 2012, O’Hara was the recipient of the coveted JFK National Award which honors individuals of Irish American descent who have achieved success in their chosen field.
The Pittsfield Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The LCC Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, sciences and humanities every year. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community.