Larry Kirwan – Paradise Square

Paradise Square is a musical set in New York City in the 1860s during the Civil War. It was a dark period in U.S. history, when the nation was divided over the status of slavery, the central issue that drove political, economic, and social policies of the era, and it influenced the moral character and artistic expression of Americans. Paradise Square focuses on the inhabitants of the Five Points, America's first slum in Lower Manhattan, within walking distance of the large mercantile employers and the dockyards at the island’s southern tip. Amid the squalor of the city is the Paradise Square Saloon, where free-born Black Americans, those who escaped slavery, and Irish immigrants take refuge, find family, and embrace other cultures. This story of the people who frequent this establishment brings the past to life through American history, music, and dance. Through its characters, scenes, and songs, we get a glimpse into the Five Points during the tumultuous year of 1863, and New York City’s role in the Civil War, Irish immigration, slavery, the Underground Railroad, power politics, and other transformative matters of the day.

Larry Kirwan is an expatriate Irish writer and musician, most noted as the lead singer for the US 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. He conceived the musical, wrote music for it, and co-wrote the book for Paradise Square.