Dancing at Lughnasa

Synopsis: A young boy tells the story of growing up in a fatherless home with his unmarried mother and four spinster aunts in 1930's Ireland. Each of the five women, different from the other in temperament and capability, is the emotional support system, although at times reluctantly, for each other, with the eldest assuming the role of a 'somewhat meddling' overseer. But then into this comes an elderly brother, a priest too senile to perform his clerical functions, who has "come home to die" after a lifetime in Africa; as well, there also arrives the boy's father, riding up on a motorcycle, only to announce that he's on his way to Spain to fight against Franco. Nevertheless, life goes on for the five sisters, although undeniably affected by the presence of the two men, they continue to cope as a close-knit unit... until something happens that disrupts the very fabric of that cohesiveness beyond repair.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Pat O'Connor
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
  2 wins & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
95 min

When I cast my mind back

to that summer of 1936...

different kinds of memories

offer themselves to me.

We got our first wireless set

that summer.

Well, a sort of a set.

And it obsessed us.

We called it "Lugh" after

the old pagan god of the harvest.

His festival was Lughnasa,

a time of music and dance.

Then my mother's brother,

my Uncle Jack...

came home from Africa for

the first time in 25 years.

He was the oldest of the family,

and the only boy.

That was my mother.

She was the baby

of the family.

I'm gonna throw

this old cracked thing out.

You are not.

I broke it.

The only way to avoid seven years'

bad luck is to keep usin' it.

You know, I think I might

just start to wear lipstick.

Steady on there. Today, it's lipstick.

Tomorrow it's the gin bottle.

Oh, dear, a wild Woodbine.

It's better than any man.

Not that I'd know.

Better not let Kate

hear that kind of chat.

If Aunt Maggie smoked

and took life lightly...

Aunt Kate did not.

She was a schoolteacher,

and a strict one.

- What are you doing up there?

- I'm putting the finishing touches on.

- You should've done that yesterday.

- I want it to look nice for Jack.

Get yourself ready. Do you want

the whole place laughing at us?

- I've only to put on a skirt.

- Do so, please.

And do something with your hair

as well. Where's Rose?

Feeding the chickens.

I suppose she looks like

a mad woman as well.

My mother used to whisper,

"Agnes is deep. "

She says little.

That's Aunt Rose.

Rose was a bit slow.

Simple. "

That's the word we used.

Mussolini will be there

with his airplanes in the air

Will you come to Abyssinia

Will you come

Mussolini is many miles away.

Father Jack, your only brother,

will be in Ballybeg in one hour.

Would you please

make yourself presentable?

Don't mind her.

She's only an old gander.


And so we set out

to meet my Uncle Jack.

Little did I know it...

child as I was...

that this was the beginning

of things changing.

Changing so quickly.

Too quickly.

- Excited?

- I am, Mammy.

Come on.

Good day, Miss Mundy.

Well, Miss Mundy.

Big day for youse all.

Father Jack,

back at long last.

It is indeed.

Thank you very much.

Something for youse all

to be proud of.

All that time amongst the lepers.

The man's a saint.

Thank you. Bus'll be in soon.

If you'll excuse us.

Give him our best wishes.

Give him your arse

and say it's parsley.

That's enough, Margaret,

thank you very much.

- Look, it's Danny Bradley.

- Hold your tongue.

Will I run over to say hello?

You'll stay right here

beside me.

He's a scut.

With three children.

The whole town knows it.

You're a fine one to talk,

Christina Mundy.

You're jealous!

That's what's wrong with

the whole lot of youse!

- You're jealous of me!

- Just try to control yourself, please.

His wife left him.

She did the runner.

She may have had her reasons.

It's coming!

The bus, it's coming!

Oh, Jack.

Oh, thank God, Jack.

Ballybeg. Ten minutes.


- Is this...

- Ballybeg.

- Is this the name of where...

- It's where you come from.

- Am I home?

- You're home, Jack.

Mother is dead.

She's not here.

She's dead.

Come on.

Come and say hello to Maggie.

- Maggie.

- He's an old man, Mammy.

Come on, Michael.

Stop it, Aunt Maggie.

His sisters loved Jack

with all their hearts...

sending what pennies they had

to him in Africa.

Rose and Agnes knitting gloves

for a living.

All the women trying

to keep house and home together.

A miracle.

That's no miracle.

It is science.

It's not science.

It's the god of Lughnasa.

Pagan nonsense celebrating

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Frank McGuinness

Professor Frank McGuinness (born 1953) is an Irish writer. As well as his own plays, which include The Factory Girls, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me and Dolly West's Kitchen, he is recognised for a "strong record of adapting literary classics, having translated the plays of Racine, Sophocles, Ibsen, Garcia Lorca, and Strindberg to critical acclaim". He has also published four collections of poetry, and two novels. McGuinness has been Professor of Creative Writing at University College Dublin (UCD) since 2007. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Dancing at Lughnasa" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 31 Mar. 2023. <https://www.scripts.com/script/dancing_at_lughnasa_6270>.

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