Dancing at Lughnasa

A guide to use when revising for a Dancing at Lughnasa exam. The pack has 28 pages and includes historical context, boxes to put in your own notes, about Dancing at lughnasa being a play, characters and important factors in the play.

Made by my teacher for my English class.

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  • Created on: 02-04-12 14:52
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Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa
Brian Friel

Historical context.

1930s Ireland: A decade of change.

There are several historical references within the living memory of
the Mundy family which it will be helpful to clarify.

Uncle Jack was a chaplain to the British army in East Africa. His

Page 2

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Dancing at Lughnasa

faction, but eventually capitulated in 1923, declaring that military
victory rested with those who destroyed the Republic. De Valera
abandoned Sinn Fein and formed his own political party in 1926. He
chose its name Fianna Fail ("Soldiers of Destiny") which drew on the
symbolism of Ireland's mythical…

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Dancing at Lughnasa

General Franco (p.50), but is invalided out in Barcelona (p.61). Gerry's
political commitment is questionable, his main claim to involvement
seemingly his ability to ride a motorbike. But the play's perspective is
broadened by reference to European mass movements ­ Mussolini,
Italy's Fascist dictator and his Abyssinian…

Page 4

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Dancing at Lughnasa

Pagan Offerings: The origins of the Festival of Lughnasa.

In Ireland the harvest festival, held every year in early August, was
called Lughnasa after Lugh, the Celtic God, provider of the crops.
Mountain tops, wells, river banks and lakes were all designated
sacred areas for the primal…

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Dancing at Lughnasa

In all the records an recollections of the Lughnasa festivities in
Ireland, dancing is the most prominent and persistent element. In
Kerry, or example, the best dancing couple was chosen on the hilltops
of Drung Hill and Cnoc na dTobar. Lughnasa dancing competitions
were held too, at…

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Dancing at Lughnasa

The Play: The Stage-World of Dancing at Lughnasa


We are in Ballybeg (as with a couple of Friel's other plays), but the
Mundy's home is two miles outside the village, necessitating a long
walk to reach any amenities. It isolates the family further in a county…

Page 7

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Dancing at Lughnasa

although his legs will be scarred, the Sweeney boy is on the mend

As with other plays set in Ballybeg, Friel creates a community which
is introduced to us through report or reminiscence by the central
characters, in this case the latter. A whole cast of…

Page 8

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Dancing at Lughnasa

Friel draws our attention to the clothes the sisters wear, which
"reflect their lean circumstances". Note the specificity of certain items
­ drab, wrap around overalls or aprons; wellingtons and large boots
with untied laces. These are all character based and will help you to
build up…

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Dancing at Lughnasa

Father Jack receives particular attention from Friel when describing
his costume.

Another character who undergoes a specific clothing transformation
is Rose. For the most part she is dressed in a dowdy overall and
Wellington boots, but when she goes to pick bilberries with Agnes she
is wearing…

Page 10

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Dancing at Lughnasa

The surface naturalism of the play requires a number of household
properties which are used throughout. These are familiar, everyday
objects which we would normally take for granted. The sisters'
impecunious situation, however, gives them a particular value and to
some extent they are almost precious. Later…


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