By Karen Daly
The women of Nollaig na mBan NY held our Lughnasa celebration for the Dwelling Place of New York virtually this year. The group observes the Celtic festivals with performances that raise awareness and funds for the Midtown Manhattan residence for homeless women.
The evening’s performance was dedicated to the memory of James Cagney who died recently. A beloved member of the New York Irish community Jim, with his beautiful wife Bridget, was an ardent supporter of our events. Nollaig na mBan NY founder Maura Mulligan presented our tribute to Jim. (See an Echo tribute here.)
Though confined to computer screens, this year’s event, organized and hosted by Nollaig na mBan NY member Dolores Nolan brought a superb array of actors who donated their time and considerable talents.
We were treated to brilliant monologues: Gina Costigan as Joanie, a character based on the playwright’s mother from the “Our Lady of Sligo” by Sebastian Barry; Terry Donnelly as Maggie from Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel; and Brendan Walsh as Eugene from Hugh Leonard’s “The Au Pair Man.”
We heard exciting new work from actor Maria Deasy in playwright Sheila Walsh’s pandemic piece “Getting Through It;” actor and screenwriter David Beck’s affecting prologue from his memoir “Finding the Man”; and Brendan Walsh reading a passage from John Kearns’s just published novel “Worlds.”
Comedic performer, writer, and real-life real estate agent Sarah Fearon brought clips of her alter ego, real estate agent extraordinaire, Snazzy Peabody trying to sell famous New York properties, the Highline and Central Park’s Belvedere Castle.
Before ending the night with a blessing in prose and poetry from with special guest Malachy McCourt, we had a brief open mic, thanks to the help of our technical director Emily Rowland Kaine. Zooming from Galway, Judy Charleton Grealish sang Irish songs. Your correspondent, Karen Daly, shared her pandemic piece about New York’s empty streets. Doris Meyer’s offered a poem, “Dwelling in the Light” that embodies the Dwelling Place’s work in keeping women safe.
A Time of Change
Our friend Sr. Joann Sambs who directed the Dwelling Place for many years, has taken a new role caring for the sisters of her religious community at their retirement center in Fond du Lac, Wisc. Sr. Joann, a warm and gracious presence at our events, will be missed. The Dwelling Place has appointed Deborah Pollack as its administrator. Ms. Pollack, who brings great experience and commitment to the position, talked about the home’s post-COVID plans. We echo her sentiments of appreciation for Sr. Joann’s “warmth, love and guidance” and wish both women great success in their new posts.
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