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Dancing at Lughnasa
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Dancing at Lughnasa

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,431 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
It is 1936 and harvest time in County Donegal. In a house just outside the village of Ballybeg live the five Mundy sisters, barely making ends meet, their ages ranging from twenty-six up to forty. The two male members of the household are brother Jack, a missionary priest, repatriated from Africa by his superiors after twenty-five years, and the seven-year-old child of the
Paperback, 112 pages
Published May 21st 1990 by Faber Faber (first published 1990)
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Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays-theatre
*** Edited on 10-2-18, due to missing content that disappeared when I posted my review. I rewrote partial sentences to the best of my memory.


I read this wonderful play in one sitting, today, before going to the theatre tonight to see the performance with a friend. I had seen it performed once before, but after 20+ years, needed a refresher.

Reading through the excellent script was enticing... imagining the characters, and how each actor would po
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The reason for me picking up and reading Dancing at Lughnasa today was the finale to a few months of me saying "I need to read some work by Friel". I have been aware of Friel for a long time yet somehow I never came across an apt opportunity to read him, which accompanies my mission to read all of the Irish literary giants. Also, I felt somewhat uneducated and embarrassed not knowing his work when his death occurred a few months ago. Alas, this was all solved by my need to kill a few hours at Un ...more
Pooya Kiani
Apr 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
سقوط امپراتوری خاک بر سرها.
یک نمایشنامهی فوقالعاده. پر از فرصت و پر از ایده.
پرداخت، کنشها، کوریوگرافی، توضیحات صحنه، همهچیز عالی بود.
از اون متنهای زاینده که اگر قبل از خوندن، اجراش رو ببینی، محو تماشا فراموش میکنی آب دهنت رو قورت بدی.
ترجمه خوب بود. نقص که داشت، اما چیزی از دست نرفتهبود.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather melancholy look at the passing of a way of life through a single family. (view spoiler)
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My first encounter with Dancing at Lughnasa was a performance at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.. The cast was lead by the incomparable Tana Hicken as Kate. How we audience members remained in our seats during the dance scene still amazes me.

Of course, plays are meant to be seen. The term, "first reading," refers to a groups of actors seated together reading the play aloud.

Still, reading the words of a playwrite alone, following the stage directions, checking the props list, learning how the pla
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A simple, short and moving play. The five Mundy sisters are shown on two days three weeks apart, with a narrative about their life afterwards. They irritate each other, misunderstand each other, chide each other and love each other, through lifes trials and disappointments - but life slowly drags them down.

Read July 2014, and July 15
Feb 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
I don't know why I liked this play so much. The setting just really appealed to me.
Patrick Neylan
May 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays, plays-seen
This play is adapted from a novel*, and it shows. Such a process involves losing the narrative of a novel, which then needs to be replaced by something theatrical. Brian Friel hasn't done that. He simply fills in the gaps by having the young boy Michael narrate large chunks of narrative, presumably pasted from the novel itself, without adding anything dramatic.

So, for the first hour we are presented with the five sisters picking at the scabs of their own boredom and frustration. This is excepti
June Louise
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this. I can't put my finger on exactly *why* but it just didn't seem to have much of a point to it. It features the Mundy family (five sisters - Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose and Chris; and their brother - Jack - who has just returned from Uganda after serving there as a missionary in a leper colony), a young boy, Michael (one of the sisters' sons who also is the narrator of the play), and Gerry Evans - the boy's father, and semi-estranged partner to Chris. The Mu ...more
A. Mary
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish-drama
This isn't Friel's most important play, but through one family, it manages to deal with a number of Irish realities in a short two acts. The family is a group of five sisters, their older brother, and the "illegitimate" child of one. In terms of historical reality, the play confronts the loss of a way of life and the fact of labour emigrants to England. There is an undercurrent of ancient ways, pagan ways, in the festival of Lughnasa, and the Christianization of Ireland is revisited in the pries ...more
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy Irish literature and drama you will find this a rewarding work. I saw it on stage before i read it. Like so many plays, one can process the actor's inflection and physical manner but, particularly with plays performed with an "accent" , the actual spoken word can be misheard or misunderstood. The reading of Friel's words provided deeper understanding. Despite the excellence of the actors, there are often words missed by the audience which reading a play helps clarify. I loved the re ...more
Sarah Hayes
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it overall, but I think I liked the film better. Felt weird to read the climactic scene of the film in the first half of the play. Father Jack comes out better in this, at least. I appreciated the narrowed focus of scenery and how storytelling played a crucial role in moving along the plot. The narration threw me off, though.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was okay, but I didn't particularly enjoy the main thread of the play. I was interested in some characters and wanted them explored in greater depth, especially the relationship between the sisters. Overall I found it lacking.
Thom Dunn
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
spectacular recreation of Irish peasant life and its sequellae in a small space.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting play that deals with Irish roots and changes through the actions of one family. I would like to see this on stage one day.
Paula Soper
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
The theater department is putting this on, and I wanted to read it first. It's wonderfully Irish and mythic.
Kay Bolton
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would not have chosen to read this book, probably under any circumstances.

I had to though, as is is a set book for my upcoming Open University A230 'Reading and Studying Literature', which will be my last module at Level 2 (having just finished A215 'Creative Writing ... not that you need to know this!).

The front cover is appealing, and is the reason I dragged it off the reading pile in the first place - the dress seems genteel and is set in juxtaposition to the black wellingtons.

The theme of
Rachel Trimble
May 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
I didn't know what the hell was going on when I first read it, there didn't seem to be a point to the flashback memory. It was like someone telling a story only to get to the point and you feeling like, um that was it?

Would Recommend?
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So simple and yet so poweful
Caroline Bennett
This was fascinating. I really enjoyed it.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: school-required
I didn't like it at all. I had to read it for reading comittee and I hated the characters and thought they were really annoying. Don't recommend it at all.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not really sure what to make of this play about five sisters. Very glad I will be seeing it next month!
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
It wasn’t bad for any particular reason it just didn’t really make me think wow this is a great drama and I wasn’t overly invested in the story
Tereza Fuková
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tereza by: Carina
Quite the sad story, but nicely written. Must be great to see it performed.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yeah I really enjoyed this, bring on the study
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: uni-books
Can't deny the power of dance.
Kirsty 📚📖❤️
In preparation for my next Open University course I had 9 books to read over the summer. This was one of them

The first book I’ve managed to read and see the film of is Dancing at Lugnasa by Brian Friel. It’s a play set in Co Donegal, Southern Ireland in the 1930’s in which the narrator, Michael, recalls his time living with his mum and 4 aunts when he was seven.

I saw the film before I had chance to read the book. The first thing that struck me is that depsite a wealth or Irish actors half the fe
Danny Daley
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit of a chain reader, in that when I finish a book, I usually pick up another immediately and just keep reading. I don't mean that metaphorically - I literally do this, pulling books from the stack within minutes of the last. There is a rare occasion that I can't move on to another book too quickly because I'm too moved by what I have just read - and that was the case with this play.

It is my second from Brian Friel, and as with the first, I loved this play. There are so many representativ
Leonie Byrne
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I can't really put my finger on why I didn't enjoy this. There was just something about it which I couldn't take to. There seemed to be no point to the story and yet I am not a philistine I know exactly what the points were. A tale of a family torn apart by betrayal, jealousy, lies, religion and politics.
A family of 5 sisters and one illegitimate young boy along with a brother who everyone thinks is crazy. It was a weird sort of play/storyline as it pretty much told you in the beginning wh
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish, play
Dancing at Lughnasa is set in 1930s rural Ireland that follows one family living under the same roof. 5 Mundy sisters (Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose and Chris), 1 brother who has recently returned from being a missionary in Uganda and the 7 year old son of Chris, born out of wedlock to her on/off again partner Gerry. The play is set in two acts, 1st before the Lunghnasa Festival and the 2nd set after, though the timeline does jump around a small bit. While I did enjoy certain elements of this play l ...more
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All About Books: Group Play - Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel (Winter '16) 47 31 Apr 19, 2016 07:04AM  
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Brian Friel is a playwright and, more recently, director of his own works from Ireland who now resides in County Donegal.

Friel was born in Omagh County Tyrone, the son of Patrick "Paddy" Friel, a primary school teacher and later a borough councillor in Derry, and Mary McLoone, postmistress of Glenties, County Donegal (Ulf Dantanus provides the most detail regarding Friel's parents and grandparents
“Dancing as if language had surrendered to movement - as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness. Dancing as if the very heart of life and all its hopes might be found in those assuaging notes and those hushed rhythms and in those silent and hypnotic movements. Dancing as if language no longer existed because words were no longer necessary...” 1 likes
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