Transported to Donegal by way of the Alumnae Theatre

Off I went to see The Toronto Irish Players  latest offering of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. A Memory play set in 1936 in the Donegal home of the Mundy sisters told from the point of view of Michael Evans, the narrator. He recounts the summer in his aunts’ cottage when he was seven years old, as they struggle with life, love, changing times, and a damn bloody wireless!

DancingAtLaughnasa_FNLOpening with narrator Michael (Enda Reilly), who was raised by his single mother, and youngest of the four Mundy sisters Christina (Lauren McGinty). The eldest sibling and local school teacher, Kate (Erin Jones) has a reputation as ‘The Gander’ in the schoolroom which is seen to extend into the household; Maggie (Rebecca De La Cour) acts as the chief family and family clown who looks after the small family farm; and the quiet Agnes (Donna O’Regan) and simple Rose (Áine Donnelly) earn money by knitting gloves.

The return of their brother Father Jack (Ian McGarrett), sent home from his mission in Uganda by his superiors, with the rumour being that Jack was dismissed for “going native” and abandoning much of his Catholicism during his time there. The arrival which was due to be met by banners and parades causes a shift in the community mind set. Industrialization is catching up with rural Ireland, and factory-made goods are putting Agnes’ and Roses’ work at risk. Sporadic, visits from Michael’s father Gerry (Sean Gilheany), a charming yet unreliable Welsh wanderer turned, ballroom dancer turned gramophone salesman, give the family especially Christina and Michael glimmers of hope for a better life.

There is a sense that the close home life the women have known since childhood is about to be torn apart. The narrator, the adult Michael, tells us this is indeed what happens.

Before the actors take to stage, the beautiful nostalgic set (Chandos Ross) has already told a story of depression era rural Donegal. The costumes (Livia Pravato) are perfectly on point and together with, Karlos Griffith (lighting) and Dan Schaumann (sound), the stage provides a wonderous transportation.

The women give are feisty performances all round, that are both memorable and poignant. I was at times torn on who to focus on, they were all believable in their preformaces, and I found it quite remarkable how they acted along side the younger Michael. I also have to give props to Donna and Áine who are really knitting, i’ll be expecting a pair of gloves any day! The Men in the production captured the audience and and tugged at the heart strings. Together they managed to take me to Donegal, Totally recommend checking out, bring your tissues.

The production runs two hours and forty-five minutes with one intermission.Produced by Geraldine Brown & Maureen Lukie. Directed by David Eden.

Staged Managed by Bridget Jankowski. Set Designed by Chandos Ross. Lighting Design by Karlos Griffith. Sound Designed by Dan Schaumann. Costumes Designed by Livia Pravato.

Dancing at Lughnasa continues on the Alumnae Theatre Mainstage until November 3; advance tickets available online or by calling 416-440-2888. Keep up with The Irish Players on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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New music and Toronto dates from Shreem

I discovered Shreem along with many others on Celtic Island this summer. Cue some social media following and fan girl-ing on the ferry back to the city! Now 2018 Shreem has a new release Gordon’s 808s, a #notsotrad up-tempo electronic remix/mashup of legendary piper, Gordon Duncan’s “The Flagon”. Gordon Duncan was well-known for breaking the boundaries of traditional piping music and 13 years later, his memory lives on and is embodied by Shreem breathing new life into this track. With the help of Santero’s “808 Bang” this track comes alive just in time to get everyone in the mood for St. Patty’s Day!

Along with the song release, Shreem wants to have some with it and is creating a dance challenge called #gordons808schallenge.  They are calling on all current and retired Irish, Celtic, Highland and Step Dancers & Groups to post a video on Instagram tagging @shreem_music and the hashtag  #gordons808schallenge.

Lastly, Shreem would love for everyone to challenge their friends or other groups in their area.

The track is available for free download on Shreem’s SoundCloud page!

Catch Shreem performing LIVE:

– 9 Mar – SPD Society’s Grand Marshal’s Ball – Toronto, ON, Canada

– 11 Mar – St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Toronto, ON, Canada

– 17 Mar – St. Patrick’s Day @ Belfast Love – Toronto, ON, Canada

http://shreemmusic.com

Follow Shreem on: Facebook Instagram  Spotify  Youtube

Christmas away from home…..

I moved to Canada in May 2013 with my boyfriend, now fiancé and much trepidation about whether or not I would stay. Come Christmas I knew that if I went home, there was no coming back, I still hadn’t landed my dream job and the place was bloody freezing, so the decision was made. Family would come visit and we would spend our first Christmas away from home. 

Happy with our decision we threw ourselves in to making Christmas in Toronto the best yet. We decided in order to feel close to our family and friends at home we would keep traditions going as well as start some new ones. With that said the tree was decorated presents bought and wrapped and the Christmas movies chosen, we were determined! However despite the fact that Christmas decorations seemed to be on steroids and Christmas music boomed from every store the whole place just lacked Christmas Cheer. I felt odd upon hearing “Happy Holidays” and missed the usual frantic preparations and celebrations of home. 
December 2013 brought the ice storm which turned Toronto into the most Magical Christmassy looking place on earth, but it also meant spending time outside was miserable. None the less we prevailed taking in as much of the festive activities Toronto had to offer, and there was loads to do…..way more that what we could hope to do at home.  

Despite my grumbling, we enjoyed our First Christmas away from home, we got to experience a very Canadian Christmas, hockey on Boxing Day, Tobogganing after dinner, walks in the park, and visiting a frozen Niagara Falls. Having my boyfriends’ family over definitely took the sting out of missing my family at home. That didn’t stop me from bawling like a baby on Christmas Eve though when I realised it was Christmas morning in Ireland and the excitement that was now engulfing my family. 

Advice to anyone away from home over the holidays, don’t compare every experience to home, remember the grass is always greener! Luckily we are living in an era where Home is only a Skype or FaceTime away, You can experience something really special here and bring your family on the journey with you. I called to hear all about Santa’s visit and to chat with family before they sat down to dinner. 
Now in my fourth year in Toronto, I’ve alternated between Home and Toronto for Christmas celebrations, and I can honestly see pros and cons for both, I am heading home in 4 weeks for this years Christmas celebrations and I can say with great excitement that there’s nothing like that journey home for Christmas….I can’t wait.
This article was written for Openmind to bring awareness committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact aheeley@cmhaww.ca. For local mental health resources/information, visit http://www.mdsgg.ca

Sinéad x

Fear not! You can watch the Toy show in Canada!! 


It’s a time honoured tradition and the start of the Christmas festivities for most of us, and just because your not at home with your family doesn’t mean you have to miss out! 

Which is where the RTÉ Player comes in. Bosses behind the show have informed the public that it is available through various platforms, saying: ‘The Late Late Toy Show is coming to RTÉ One and on RTÉ Player, live and on-demand, this Friday from 9:35pm (Irish Time).

On demand….so no need to skip out of work early to catch it on Irish time (ahem Kate!!)

“With viewers in over 100 countries around the world primed to watch the show, tell your friends and family abroad they need not miss out as The Late Late Toy Show 

This is the links you need – https://www.rte.ie/player/ie/live/8/

https://bit.ly/RTE-One-Live 

Host Ryan Tubridy is hugely excited about this year’s show! 

He said: ‘One of the many great things about The Late Late Toy Show is that it is still one of those rare TV events where practically the entire country sits down to collectively enjoy it.’
Even better,’ he continued, ‘Irish people – and their friends – around the world get to watch along at the same time. People watched in 103 countries around the world last year.

‘For that couple of hours on a Friday night we are all connected by the madness that is this utterly unique show.
‘We have something very special planned this year and I think it is going to make a lot of people smile, no matter where they are in the world.’

Enjoy the show folks, we have the snacks in and the tree waiting to go up on time for Friday S xx

The Low Down on Shreem Celtic Remixing 

Having just been involved in the Amazing Celtic Island event on Toronto Island, I had to follow up with DJ Shreem who played an absolute blinder to close the night!! 


He had absolutely everyone on the dance floor and had more than a few new fan girls by the end of the night 😉
Having chatted to Jay a few days prior to the event I had to follow up and learn more

Firstly, you were class on the island! What made you take the direction to fuse electronic hip-hop and Celtic music?



 Jay: Fusing celtic, electronic and hip hop music has been an interest on mine for quite some time. I began in music playing in pipe bands and ever since then I’ve always wanted to do something different with celtic music and tunes. I’ve also always loved hip hop and got really in to electronic music when I started DJing at 17. For the past 7 or 8 years, I’ve been messing around with the idea, different sounds, arrangements etc. because I wanted to do something different with celtic style music, and I was already working with and making electronic music and hip hop beats, so I wanted to try mashing them together. I’ve always loved tunes, and wanted to blend the styles of music and production together to give tunes a sonically bigger sound and take them in the emotional direction that I felt from listening to a tune. When I’m making this music, producing the beats, arranging the trad parts etc. I often listen to just the tune, and see what emotions it stirs up in me, then I write my beats, synths, chords etc. around that emotion.

When did you realize that people were into you particular brand of music?

I’ve only recently realized that people were in to what I’m doing. I started making this type of music out of curiosity, and my want to work with celtic music in a different way, so the fact that people like it is a mega bonus. I’ve also done work producing for other artists such as fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, and through releasing works with him I saw an interest pop up in people as to what was happening with the music. When I put out my first record ‘Shreem – celtic remixing’ I then really saw an interest from people as to what I was making, and it’s really cool to see people interested in what I’m doing. It’s great to talk to people about it and have dialogue about it all

Who is your biggest musical influence

Musical influences for me, the number of people and things is too high to list. I get influence from a lot of things in the everyday world, and a ton of different artists. Its very important for me to listen to all kinds of different stuff and stay open minded. Celtic tunes come in all kinds of keys, tempo’s, arrangements etc. so I can simply make one type of beat for every piece, I have to try to get out of my comfort zone when I’m writing my beats and arrangements, because celtic tunes come in so many shapes and sizes.

What advice would you give to others trying to carve out a career in music?

 I’m not sure if there’s any one piece of advice I could give to someone trying to make a life in music. I think staying true to yourself and what you want to do is very important. Pick your lane, know and trust yourself and stick with it. Make or play music that you want to play, if you need to do some other gigs to pay rent, that’s always fine, but keep your head in what you love. I think a lot of finding a life in music is finding yourself, once you know your route, your passion and direction, you’ll be okay. Also, work hard and don’t take yourself too serious.

Lastly and most importantly, when and where are you playing next

Next I’ve got a few gigs with Ashley MacIsaac in Montreal and Ottawa area, then Shreem is headed to the east Coast for music week and some other events. I’m also currently writing my second album, so I’m in the studio a lot, which is where I like to be. Keep your eyes open for the next record!!

Definitely keep your eyes out for this guy!

https://www.shreemmusic.com/

S xx

Driving in Toronto, not for the faint hearted!

enhanced-17762-1442354818-1“I really miss driving” is an actual quote I’ve heard from expat friends here in Toronto! To these people I scold…….Please, I drive 800 km a week, do that for a while and you won’t want to drive for long in Toronto.

HOWEVER if you do decide to drive in Toronto, forget all the manners your mother and father bred into you and follow these handy hints (with a pinch o salt)

 

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To park or not to park?!

You will get tickets, so many tickets! If a spot looks legit, its probably not!                              The GreenP app will become your new best friend, you can find and pay for parking with it and even better you can extend parking remotely. Where possible, use actual parking spots, tickets can affect your insurance so beware. Another handy app is the Rover app (thanks Brian) This app is great for those who both want or have available parking. The app lets you choose from hundreds of parking spots all over the city. All for under $2 per hour. If you have a spot make some quick extra cash from your empty driveway. Rover let’s you rent it out when you’re not using it. Handy eh?!

 

enhanced-1310-1442348136-7Use your blinker There are two types of people in the world, those who use their turn signal, and douchebags. Worldwide indicating is a common practice to alert other drivers as to your intention to switch lanes. In Toronto blinkers show other drivers that they should speed up to prevent you from doing as you intended.

 

 

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The 401 aka my nightmare!

The 401 is where they weed out the weak. Ontario boasts the busiest and widest highway in the world. You don’t drive on the 401 to get somewhere. You do it for the challenge. Typically if the route planner says an hour on the 401, give yourself at least 30 minutes more and thats not when its rush hour. Rush hour 401 will break even the most patient of people. I have had some of my best musical moments whilst stuck on the 401, I have also arrived home and realised that i have zoned out for the last 40 minutes of the journey. Cars and tow trucks on the side of the road and crashes closing lanes are a constant reminder that you are driving on the highway of hell. Death is mere seconds away at any given moment. They’re always doing construction but nothing is ever finished. Need to take the 401…Good Luck!

 

anigif_enhanced-17269-1391931553-9Beware the trucks, particulary of the Dodge variety. There is a very good chance you are about to be flattened. These guys can see you, but you are irrelevant to them, because 1. they are bigger than you and 2. they are asses! I’m not sure if these vehicles are equipped with indicators because they are rarely seen in use, best practice is just avoid being near them.

Watch for Cyclists and pedestrians, No seriously, there are WAY to many instances of cyclists being hit in the city. Basically drivers and cyclists find it really difficult to co-exist, WHY?! Hell hath no fury like a driver who believes he has been wronged. Hell also hath no fury like a cyclist who believes she has been wronged. Both sides believe they’re doing the right thing and are therefore untouchable, irreproachable, and entitled to lecture on the subject of road safety. Motorists are pissed because of all the bike lanes (and lets admit it, we get jealous when cyclists whizz by) whilst cyclists want more! Lets just be aware of each other. So just so your clear, drivers hate cyclists, cyclists hate drivers and pedestrians hate everyone!

Buses and Streetcars; It’s safe to say that Toronto drivers find streetcars to be annoying. They’re slower than cars, they take up an entire lane, and even both lanes at a transit stop when passengers load on and get off. You know my pain if you’ve ever gotten stuck behind a street car on queen street. Buses aren’t so annoying, however they do have right of way on the road, so if they signal out in front of you, do not try to pass…It can lead to a ticket.

sub-buzz-3412-1474567943-15Traffic Lights; If the light is Green, go immediately….do not hestitate! I’ve never been beeped at more than when you the light turns green, and believe me I don’t hang around. In fact, I found that if you can begin to inch forward before the light turns they would really appreciate that. If the light is orange, you might think, slow down and get ready to stop. DO NOT slow down DO NOT stop! Orange means foot down you can make it.

And that’s driving in normal mode. Lest we forget about the six-month long Ontario winter and enter some top-tier level of driving. Let us know i you have any driving advice you’d like to share, and be safe of the roads. S xx

 

 

How to become part of the Irish Community in Toronto

You’re new to the city, house and job sorted but now you want to join the Toronto Irish community, make new friends and develop a sense of self in Toronto, But how do you get started?  After four years of living in Toronto, I’m still finding out about a broad range of groups with whom you can get involved. This weekend I had the pleasure of going to The Irish Person of the year Celebration, and I got to meet immigrants who came in the 50’s/60’s 80’s as well the newer immigrants, chatting to these people allowed me to see how successful you can be in Toronto and hearing how they kept their links to home was inspiring. Hence this list which attempts to highlight organisations that are out there. Obviously I’ll miss a few, so If you want to add any please let me know….

You can tune into the local Irish Radio programmes (Yip they exist!) to hear about local events in the Irish community and about groups and organisations

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There we are now…on the wireless 🙂

Saturday Mornings with Ceol agus Craic AKA Mark and Ken, broadcast live at 11AM EST on AM 1430 every Saturday morning.

Sunday Mornings with Mr Hugho Straney, Hugho brings us songs from home every Sunday   10am-11 am on AM 1540.

Toronto GAA: This is probably the most obvious way to get involved in the Irish Community, there are teams all over the city and they are always looking for new members. The GAA recruits members from all ability levels and even if you don’t get involved, its great craic to head out the the park on a Sunday just to cheer the on You can find out more here

Darkness into Light Toronto: The Toronto DIL will take place once again from the Jack DIL75Layton Ferry Docks to Ireland Park and back again on May 6th beginning at 5a.m.Our ultimate goal is to get 1,000 people walking this year. The demographic for this extraordinary event is quite special in that it truly gathers people of all ages, plenty of new arrivals as well as the more established Irish in the city. Taking part in this family orientated event is the first step in eradicating the stigma around suicide and mental health because for the children who take part, the conversation has already begun. In Toronto we work with the local charity Progress Place who work tirelessly to help people – free of charge – with mental health issues. In addition to the annual walk, Toronto DIL holds events throughout the year from table quizzes to skate nights, keep and eye on Facebook to learn of upcoming events

DIL75

Toronto Irish Players: The Toronto Irish Players (TIP) was founded by a group of new

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Some of the TIP gang. Photo from FB

Irish immigrants in 1975 and is Toronto’s only Irish community theatre group.  Over the last 40 years, they have produced more than 80 plays, connecting Toronto’s Irish community and sharing Irish heritage with Toronto audiences by presenting classic and modern works from Irish playwrights. TIP has strives to bring the numerous sides of Irish theatre to Toronto. For forty years TIP has seen friendships forged and tested, bonds created, immigration and emigration, and more than one family has multiple generations become part of TIP, while they welcome new members every year. If you wan to learn more about TIP, have a look at their website 

The Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber’s community involvement includes: a monetary contribution to Ireland Park, support for many community organisations, and assistance for new immigrants through networking opportunities. They are connected to a number of groups and associations and serve as our membership’s voice in the business community in Canada and Ireland. The ICCCTO provide networking events that are ideal for business and socialising. If you are a new immigrant or have been here for years they can provide the venue for this.

Ireland fund of Canada:-The Ireland Fund of Canada, is part of the largest worldwide network of people of Irish ancestry and friends of Ireland, and is dedicated to raising funds to support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development, in all of Ireland and in Canada. The Canadian Ireland fund was established in 1978 by Hilary Weston. The Ireland Funds worldwide have raised over $500 million dollars to fund projects in Ireland and in the countries where the funds were raised. Here in Canada, the Ireland Fund over the past 10 years has contributed around $2.5 million to projects in Ireland and in Canada.  Young Ireland fund of Canada hold networking events for young professionals in the city. You can find out more about IFC young Leaders or by emailing jnoonan@irelandfunds.org

The Irish Cultural Society of Toronto: Aims to stimulate interest in, promote, sponsor and foster Irish culture in all its forms, be it historic, linguistic, music, drama, dance, sport or other forms of artistic entertaining or educational expression. They promote mutual understanding and goodwill among the members of the Society. They also sponsor  and conduct activities the Society deems advisable to maintain, develop, promote and foster the Irish cultural heritage in Canada.

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Louise with her Rose of Tralee sponsors, The Irish Embassy.

The ICST are partnered with the Rose of Tralee and if you are interested in representing Toronto in the upcoming Rose of Tralee you can find information here.

CraicTo had a rose last year, Louise. She said of the experience “Great experience – 10/10. Everyone should do it if they can. Not only did I have a great time but I know my friends and family had a lot of fun too. To be honest I was not looking forward to the competitive aspect of the contest or meeting the other contestants. But I was happily surprised to find out my preconceived notions were incorrect. All the contestants were sincerely nice and friendly. There was little to no competitive nature amongst us, after the first meeting. Throughout the contest I met some really interesting people and made some genuine friends along the way. I think it’s a great way to get involved with the Irish community here in Toronto and to make some friends!”

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Irish design house interior. Image from Facebook

Irish Design House: I know technically not an organisation but a great way to meet some Irish as well as develop a new hobby. Sinéad at the Irish design house has a sewing school The Green Seam that teaches you everything you need to know about sewing and pattern making. Based in a quaint sewing studio in Toronto’s east end in the beautiful Riverside neighbourhood where you can receive one-on-one attention in sewing, pattern making, pattern cutting and all the skills needed to design and manufacture your own garment. Classes can cater for beginners and start with the very basics, and also for those with experience who may need assistance with a particular project.

You can find out more here or email hi@thegreenseam.com.

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DIL at St Patricks day parade

St Patricks day Society: The St. Patrick’s Parade Society are the custodians of a tradition to
celebrate Ireland’s history, culture and heritage through entertainment. They are a not for profit event staging organization responsible for The Grand Marshal Ball and The St Patrick’s Day Parade. They call for volunteers to join in the parade every year, contact them 

If you are an organisation or if you know of any that I’ve missed, Please get in touch. S xx