This draft of Michael’s opening/closing monologue from Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) features some of the ways in which Friel would annotate his notes. In addition to strikethroughs to expunge a word written in error, he would also strike pencil lines through a page either to indicate that something had been dealt with by being incorporated into the play or that this was a line of thought that was no longer relevant. This page was a direct inspiration for Robbie Blake’s short film ‘Running the ending’, which grew out of a transcription of these markings.
From MS 37,104/1, National Library of Ireland; copyright Brian Friel Estate, reproduced by permission.
29 May 1989. (1)
I was born in the year 1927 (?)
I was born [illegible]
I was born and grew up in (my mothers home) my grandparents house [illegible] just outside the village of Ballybeg in County Donegal. My mother was the youngest of the family and [illegible] I didn’t I never knew those grandparents – both were dead before I was born in 1927 ([illegible]) in 1927 (Bring up lights) But And the 2 events I’m now recalling I now recall happened/memory (lights) And the reason I grew up there was that seven years later in 1934 in the That’s myspring of 1934 that year we got our first radio – that’s my mother [illegible] at the set mother was the youngest of the family; And in the summer of that same year, mothers brother, my Uncle Jack, Father Jack came home from Africa where he had worked in the mission for 24 years. So in my memory of that summer those 2 things – the wonder + excitementfirst wireless set and the excitement Fr Jack’s return – are inextricably mixed focused, maybe even a bit confused. (mother has found music – [illegible] (Static – then mother finds music). And the reason I was born + grew up there reared in that house was that mother wasn’t married to Gerry, my father; so I was born, as they say, out of wedlock; and in those days, certainly in that community, that was a great shame for the family and for mother – and I suppose, had I been a for me, too.
Anyhow. That’s Agnes – knitting gloves – she was paid 1/6 6 pence a pair – [illegible] in a good week she could earn £1/ Agnes, I remember, was a…spirited woman. I remember And across from Agnes is Rose. Rose Rose’s mind never developed fully Rose and Agnes Agnes + Rose were very close: I suppose because Rose’s mind never developed fully + Agnes took seemed to on responsibility for her . . . .
Robbie Blake's transcription of Friel's markings
This is Robbie Blake’s transcription of markings made by Brian Friel on a page of notes towards Dancing at Lughnasa (1990).
Dance House, 3 September 2020
This is a recording of a live improvisation by dancers Marion Cronin, Sarah Ryan, and Lucia Kickham whilst listening to Zosia Kuczyńska’s placeholder recording of the opening monologue from Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa (1990).
Friel's creative process
Friel scholar Zosia Kuczyńska gives an overview of some of the distinctive features of playwright Brian Friel’s creative process as revealed by his literary archives at the National Library of Ireland.
Robbie Blake, preliminary score
This is Robbie Blake’s first attempt at producing a graphic score inspired by Brian Friel’s archives at the National Library of Ireland.