Friday 20 September 2019

My Cultural Life: Mary Pat Kelly, author

Mary Pat Kelly
Mary Pat Kelly
African American Museum
Angela's Ashes
Who's That Knocking at my Door?

Mary Pat Kelly's bestselling series Galway Bay, Of Irish Blood and now Irish Above All, tells the Irish American story through her own family's saga. As a filmmaker her credits include work in television for Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live. A graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, she received her PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Centre. Named by Irish America Magazine as one of the Top-100 Irish Americans, Global Irish and Power Women, she is president of Irish American Writers & Artists. She was born and raised in Chicago and lives in New York with her husband, web developer Martin Sheerin from County Tyrone. Irish Above All is available now in bookstores nationwide and on

Film: Who's That Knocking At My Door

Who's That Knocking at my Door?

I saw Martin Scorsese's first feature under extraordinary circumstances. I had written a letter to him in 1965 when he was a film student and I was studying to be a nun. A correspondence began - but I hadn't yet met him when in 1967 I attended the film's premiere at the Chicago Film Festival in the Playboy theatre in full habit.

Amazing to see a major work by someone I'd gotten to know that dealt with Catholicism, and the double standards applied to men and women at the time.

Album: A Woman's Heart

I would play the songs as I drove through the Irish countryside and it kept me on the correct side of the road in more ways than one.

Design: African American Museum

African American Museum

I love the new Smithsonian African-American Museum in Washington DC; it's beautiful and evocative. It shines out from the landscape, evoking both Africa and a kind of transcendence.

Artist: Barbara Kasten

I have an early Barbara Kasten photograph that she gave Martin [Sheerin] and me as a wedding present more than 30 years ago. It's a 3ft square Polaroid of one of her signature installations. She and I travelled through Ireland and her photographs from that trip are revelatory.

Book: Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes

My husband and I knew Frank McCourt very well. A number of years before the publication of Angela's Ashes he gave me five typewritten pages that contained the scene of the boy delivering a telegram to the girl with consumption. It's both heartbreaking and funny. But would he finish it and if he did what would happen?

The world knows the answer.

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