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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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

Toronto Library….More than just books!

Did you know that you can get more than just books at Toronto Library, well if you did then proceed with your day, if not read on!

Whilst discussing a recent library trip with Barbara she informed me that with your trusty library card you can access Lynda.com

Through Lynda.com, you can access over 3,500 video tutorial courses by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more. This simply requires the creation of a personal account which will allow you to track your progress through your tutorials.

Access to Lynda is great for anyone who wants to make their resume stand out, or if you just want to get a new hobby!

You can also get FREE passes to some amazing places in the city by requesting a Museum + Arts Pass. Places like the Toronto Zoo, AGO, ROM are on list of places you can visit. Different places are available depending on the library branch you visit and quantities are limited, but its def worth checking out.

If you have any other advice for us or for newbies to the city, let us know. Sharing is Caring. Sinéad x

An Post….what a bunch of legends!

Can we take a moment to appreciate An Post, pin particular to appreciate Celcius who managed to deliver this card to Nicole Lally! Her friend Amanda sent her a Christmas card with the following written on the front:

Ya know yer wan, her mother’s Hogan from Castleblakeney, but the daughter’s an ex townie. Grew up in Athlone and moved to Ballymacward (between Ballinasloe and Galway) when she got married. Lives next door to her in-laws now, she has a rake of children and 7 dogs and 4 cats and about 30 hens + ducks and some rabbits and fish & I think she has a hamster as well. She has a shrine to the virgin mary in the left corner of her garden.

Can you give this to her please? Xx

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The inside of the card reads “…sure aren’t An Post great”… indeed they are . Legends

Tempted to try this myself, S xx

 

What happens when you bring a dinosaur to the ROM?!

If you haven’t been yet, GO!

A gang of us headed down on a freezing Friday  night 2014, and I’m not going to lie I was a little skeptical…..A night out in a museum, hardly sounds thrilling, I thought it would be all roped off and stuffy suited types, with people telling us off for having too much craic! Sticking with the theme of the night, we had our very own gold T-Rex in tow and he was a hit.

This is the city’s most unique social destination featuring eclectic eats, drinks, DJs, dancing, live music and unexpected experiences.

Having missed out last year, we’ll be back this year.

The themes for FNL 2016;

Nov 11: Tribute
Nov 18: Wild
Nov 25: Afterglow

You can sign up for early bird tickets here, and if you don’t manage to get them you should turn up super early, and be prepared to queue.

FNL returns again in the summer, so if you miss out you will get another chance.

You’ll queue again for the cloak room and again for ROM bucks. Is it worth all the queueing…..Yes! The bar moves quick, thanks to the ROM bucks. The place is so huge it won’t feel jam packed, and its a unique way to see the ROM.

PicMonkey Collage

Let us know what you think if you make it down

S xx

Belfast Love: a proper pub on King West

 After hearing so much about Belfast Love, I decided to head down and see what all the fuss was about. Now before I continue, Belfast love is NOT an Irish bar, nor does it claim to be! It does however have subtle nods to Ireland with the Four leaf clover sign, the awesome walls of Waterford crystal and an extensive Irish whiskey selection.

The first thing that I noted was the atmosphere, the place was buzzing and the patio was packed (despite the lack of sunshine). Inside the decor is really cool, think neon “loo” signs, dark lighting, naked lady wall paper and crystal so much crystal! Belfast Love is a proper high end pub. I especially love that there’s lots of different seating sections and a pool table, this place really uses the space well. The only draw back for me was the acoustics, I found it really difficult to hear the people at my table, but the place was packed so am I just nit picking?!
Now down to the reason I was there…food and drinks. The drinks list is varied, with a big focus on whiskey, with an option to buy a barrel to be enjoyed any time you stop in, nice touch Belfast Love!

The food is not your average pub fare but is still unpretentious. We got a wide variety of the dishes, pizza, poutine, burgers and the chicken and waffles! All of which had a little something unique to this pub, for example, the chicken and waffles were fab but then paired with a sauce of bourbon and maple syrup……amazing! My poutine was not the regular old fries and cheese curds much to the disappointment of the Montrealer among us, but to me it was like a cheesy gravy chip from home, with the added bonus of super fresh rotisserie chicken chunks on top. The pizza looked amazing, freshly made with a super thin crust, I will be back for sure the try it!

There are lots of staff floating around the bar. All of whom are very beautiful and actually really sound, Well the two that I interacted with were! Now the smart thing to do would be remember names, which I don’t, but I know both our servers had links to Ireland (Limerick and Ballybunion) and they chatted away, not in a tip hungry way but in a genuine dead on way! Plus we got some of the Belfast Love badges so yay happy campers!
My advice go check out Belfast Love, I’ll be aiming for a spot on the patio for my next visit, I just need the sunshine to come back!

Thanks Barbara for the pics. If any of you head down to Belfast Love, let us know your thoughts. S xx

Reflections…. Three years in Canada! 

Having moved to Canada three years ago I never thought I would would have lasted the year, it seemed impossible to think that I wouldn’t see my nieces and nephews daily or drink cups of tea with my ma at 3 o’clock after stumbling in from a night out. I put all these thoughts in a little corner of mind and repeated daily…..”I’ll give it a year”.
Three years on, I have my Permanent residencey  and I look back and realize that although I miss home and all it encompasses on a daily basis, I have made a home in Canada.

 

I am one of thousands of Irish who travelled here on a Canadian Experience visa and at the time it felt like I had won a golden ticket to the chocolate factory. One week later I was booked and ready to start a new life. I was in the very fortunate position to travel with my boyfriend and to be greeted at the other side by my super supportive uncle and his family who welcomed us in and made our first three months a breeze, housing us and ensuring we sorted out all the essentials. This made all the difference and still manages to cure the homesick pangs when I drop in for Sunday dinners. If you are a new arrival or are thinking of coming, contact people you know in the city, they have all been in your position and are only too willing to help out. You may also be exactly what they need, your a bit of home for them bringing back memories, stories shared upbringings and common friends and of course it helps if you’ve a box of Barry’s.

Making friends here was the biggest challenge, you are forced to bond with new friends at lightning speed only to be told in a few months that they’re heading home (ahem you know who you are!!). My best piece of advice came in the form of Jeff at a party, after listening to me whine about another expat returning home, he advised “you just get over it” and actually you do and you come to realise that although they move home, the real friendships will last. The friends you have are also friends you’ve chosen, we all have a friend we’ve had from the first day of primary school, the only common bond we have being position in the alphabet, forcing us to sit together for the next seven years. 
I have also been fortunate in that I found a job in my field of Speech Therapy, don’t get me wrong I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but I’m closer than I ever got at home. It wasn’t easy though and I slogged it out for the first year in a tiny bar with no air conditioning. My best advice, network! I talked to everyone in that bar and eventually met a Speech therapist who put me in contact with the company with whom I now work. The established community here are also a great source of employment information and they area apply to share contacts.   

Get involved; I know it’s difficult in your first year when you want to explore/party/get settled, but it’s the best thing I ever done. I tried a few organizations and they didn’t fit, eventually I got involved with Darkness into Light and it has afforded me so many opportunities to meet and get involved with the community of established Irish here in the city. 

As an Irish person in Toronto, I will always feel the tug of home but for now, Toronto is home and I’m looking forward to the next few years of adventure. 
Sinéad