Dancing at Lughnasa house restoration project underway

Brian Friel Interpretative centre also planned for Glenties

Tom Comack


Tom Comack


Dancing at Lughnasa house

The cottage in Glenties, known as the Laurels, which was used by Brian Friel for his highly acclaimed play, Dancing at Lughnasa.

Glenties residents are very excited about a restoration project which underway in the town and which is set to give tourism in the area a timely shot in the arm.
The project in question is the restoration of the cottage used by Brian Friel for his highly acclaimed drama Dancing at Lughnasa.
The restoration of the cottage, which was the homeplace of Friel’s mother Mary McLoone, is only part of a major plan that will also include a Brian Friel Centre.
The first phase of the restoration is the replacement of the old roof on the two storey cottage, called the Laurels.
“The replacement of the roof is currently underway thanks to a generous sponsor who does not one to be named and we are all very excited about it here in the town,” local trustee, and former Fianna Fail councillor Francis Brennan told the Democrat.
Mr. Brennan is the only local trustee of the Brian Friel Centre which is headed by the former RTE executive, Joe Mulholland of McGill Summer School fame.
“Joe Mulholland is the main driver of the project. The ownership of the property was secured last year again thanks to a number of generous sponsors including Moya Doherty, of River Dance Fame. Moya Doherty is also a trustee of the development.”

Regular visitor
The acclaimed writer was a regular visitor in his boyhood and he used the setting for the much acclaimed Dancing at Lughnasa.
It is also planned to build on a Brian Friel Interpretative centre on adjacent land along the lines of the Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy, Co. Derry.
“We have plans for the Interpretative Centre and the plan is to build it close to the cottage, but the cottage will be separate from the Brian Friel Centre,” Mr. Brennan added.
“The existing site is on a half acre which may be a bit small and we may have to purchase extra land.
“Plans have been drawn up for the interpretative centre and funding is being sought.
“But for now the main emphasis is the restoration of the cottage to its original state.”
The overall cost of project is believed to be in the region of between €500,000 and €800,000.
The development is being warmly welcomed by the local community. They see it as having huge potential to attract visitors to the town.
“There is hardly a day goes by that we do not have a query about the Friel house and Dancing at Lughnasa,” Mr. Brennan added.
“We have had all types of inquiries, including people wondering about the Lughnasa tour.
“There is a huge interest in the whole Lughnasa connection and it has a huge potential for tourism in the area.”
The current work being carried out at the house is all thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor. This donor wishes to remain anonymous.
A number of fundraising projects are believed to be in the pipeline and all avenues of funding for the overall project are being pursued.