The Brian Friel Papers

Structure the ages.

In Friel’s play Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), the radio is an important theatrical device. Apart from connecting the Mundy sisters to an emerging modernity, it also functions as an almost supernatural presence as it makes sudden musical intrusions that disturb the domestic scene. In this note dated 21 May 1989, Friel gestures towards the importance of radio music as a means of accessing what he calls the language of dance, which provides a means of ‘saying’ the unsayable as various points throughout the play.

From MS 37,104/1, National Library of Ireland; copyright Brian Friel Estate, reproduced by permission.


21 May. 

What age is Fr. Jack? Much younger than he looks. Structure the ages.


Does Fr. Jack tell Rose the story of the house-boy + the dance? Does she instigate it at the end? (30 May) Does he tell it to Narrator? 

Malaria – bad air.


Where is Chris in all this? Wife? Fiancee? Dead? At home with large, young family?


(1)  The radio is much more important than a theatrical device to provide music. Explore that carefully.

(2)  The play is NOT about Fr. Jack’s or the family’s Catholicism. That must be positively avoided.

(3)  30th May: Why not no. (2) – [illeg.] Fr. J. sent home because of his involvement with tribal rites; and bringing that other spiritual element into the home + thereby transforming it.

Don't anticipate the ending Creative encounters with the Brian Friel Papers

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Presented in partnership with the National Library of Ireland