Bealtaine fundraiser aids shelter

Bernadette Fee and Allen Gogarty.

By Karen Daly

The May 1 Bealtaine celebration to benefit the Dwelling Place of New York was a rousing evening of music, dance, poetry and surprise guests. Sponsored by the small but mighty volunteer group Nollaig Na mBan NY, whose aim to help the Hell’s Kitchen women’s residence, the event raised both money and spirits with a lively program. Nollaig Na mBan NY founder Maura Mulligan recruited a superb cast of musicians, poets and dancers to contribute their talent.

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Sister Joann Sambs, CSA, director of the Dwelling Place, on behalf of its residents, thanked the audience and performers and the Nollaig group for its continued support.

Among the program’s poetry highlights: Doris Marie Meyer’s insight on W.B. Yeats’ relationship to Bealtaine, through his connection to the spirits, as demonstrated through his poems “The Song of Wandering Aengus” and “The Stolen Child.” President of the American Irish Teachers Association, Doris has a book for children, coming this summer, “H is for Harp: An Alphabet Book of Irish Traditional Music and Culture.”

Two New York City poets, Bernadette Cullen and Miranda J. Stinson, read original work. Bernadette, an editor journalist/photojournalist, former teacher at the College of New Rochelle, read “Time’s Clock Has No Face” and “There’s A Deep Whiteness.” Miranda’s work ranged from an ode to her spring/summer allergies to a poem for her late Mother, and included “Belfast Nights,” recalling her time living there. Miranda will host Irish American Writers & Artists’ second annual Pride Salon at the Cell Theatre on June 18.

The remarkable Fee Sisters —Angela, Mairéad and Catríonaplayed reels and jigs on, respectively, the fiddle, concertina and flute. The teenagers belong to a trad music family, that includes their dad Michael, aunt Bernadette Fee and uncle, the legendary accordion player Billy McComiskey. Proud grandmother Mary Fee is a Nollaig Na Mban member, and president of the Irish Dancing and Music Association of North America.

Catriona, Mairead & Angela Fee.

Irish dance was well represented by young step dancers from McManus Irish Dance who charmed the audience with their precision and poise. Dance teacher Patricia McManus invites all to their annual Irish Heritage Night on the East River in Long Island City on Saturday, September 14.

Three of the city’s best Sean nós dancers, Kate Foster, Alice Breda Ryan and Christine Timm, traded steps in a thrilling performance.

In the first Latin dance performance at a Nollaig event, Natalie H. Rogers displayed the love of Argentine Tango that has enlightened her life for many years, performing two numbers with partner Stefan Zawistowski.

Songwriter, author and performer John Munnelly engaged the crowd with his sing-along originals. The message of John’s song “It’s Gonna Be Allright” holds special meaning for the women of the Dwelling Place.

Well-known New York fiddler and champion Irish step dancer Bernadette Fee, a frequent supporter of Nollaig na mBan NY, closed the evening with her own mini-session, inviting a guest, the wonderful singer/songwriter Allen Gogarty to join her on a few songs.

Leia, Alexis and Aoife from the McManus School of Dance.

Singer and scholar of Irish American song, Dan Milner stopped by to entertain with a workingman’s ballad. Dan’s new book, “The Unstoppable Irish,” is just released by Notre Dame Press and commended in these pages.

Bernadette Fee ended her performance with an astounding feat…she played her fiddle while dancing across the floor of the Ripley-Grier Studio.

If you’d like to learn about or support the Dwelling Place, please see

For information on Nollaig na mBan NY’s next event, Lughnasa, Aug. 1, emailmauramulligan [at] or KDaly321 [at]