Gina Costigan gave a sensitive performance in the evening’s centerpiece “and in my heart.”
By Karen Daly
On Monday, Aug. 1, the women of Nollaig na mBan New York marked the Celtic festival of Lughnasa with a performance to raise awareness and funds for its adopted charity, the Dwelling Place of New York.
The Nollaig na mBan tradition is observed throughout Ireland on the feast of the Epiphany, and women now make the celebration an opportunity to help their communities by helping a charity. The New York group, founded by Maura Mulligan, has extended that tradition to celebrate the four seasons. The Dwelling Place of New York, a transitional residence for homeless women, located in the Times Square area, will observe its 40th anniversary next year.
Produced and hosted by Dee Nolan, the Lughnasa program paid tribute to the women who participated in the 1916 Rising. Poet John Anthony Brennan, a native of Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, described Lughnasa traditions and set the background for the 1916 with a stirring reading of Yeats’ “Easter 1916.”
The night’s centerpiece was Honor Molloy’s short play, “and in my heart,” which draws from her great aunt’s eyewitness account of events of Easter Week, 1916. Actor of stage and screen Gina Costigan gave a sensitive performance of the young woman. Gina will appear in Honor’s “Crackskull Row,” coming in September as part of the 2016 1st Irish Theatre Festival.
Singer-songwriter Alisa Rose, one of the best new vocalists of the Irish music scene, sang two songs, including one she composed especially for Lughnasa.
Members of Nollaig na mBan New York told the stories of 1916 women, whose contributions to the Rising are now being recognized and acknowledged by historians. Host Dee Nolan presented Margaret Keogh and Elizabeth O’Farrell; Deirdre Batson presented Countess Markievicz; Mary Fee presented Margaret Skinnider and I presented Winifred Carney. Vera Wrenn closed the program with “Amhrán na bhFiann”/“A Soldiers’ Song.”
The program was warmly received by the audience and by a grateful Sr. Joann Sambs, who is the director of the Dwelling Place of NY. She commented: “The stories of the courageous women of 1916 resonate in my spirit and inspire me in my work among the women of the Dwelling Place.”
To learn more about The Dwelling Place of New York, go to http://thedwellingplaceofny.org.