Brilliant! Awesome! Savage! These three words are the more common superlatives used in Ireland to describe a great event. A week ago Sunday, 300 people were treated to an awesome event at Shakespeare & Company by the Sheila Moffatt School of Irish Dance. I have seen all three of Michael Flatly’s Riverdance shows and this was comparable, maybe better because of the authentic look of the performance and the performers. There were no flashy costumes, no long curly wigs, just real people who presented very well what a modest 1912 rural County Mayo family living in a thatched roof home would look like. And oh could they dance and play traditional music! The audience loved it and clearly wanted more.
The 80 visitors, including 30 dancers and musicians ranging from 6 to 27, arrived at the Crowne Plaza a week ago Saturday to an evening reception of song and dance, performed Sunday at Shakespeare, on Monday toured Stockbridge and the Norman Rockwell Museum, ate lunch at downtown Lee and then shopped at the Lee Outlets before finishing the day with a pizza party at Baba Louies with more singing and dancing. Before the buses departed on Tuesday at 12, the performers were all driven to St. Joseph High school to meet their American counterparts. What a great sight watching the two groups sing and dance, jigs and reels matched by break dancing, Irish folk matched by American country/folk.
Planning and executing a trip of this magnitude took a lot of planning and fundraising on both sides of the Atlantic. Those from Ireland paid their airfare and some other expenses. The Irish American Organ ization of Berkshire County and their co-partner, Pitts field’s Irish Sister City Committee paid for bus transportation, most of the rooms and the two receptions. The wonderful reception after the performance was provided by the Red Lion Inn. Local businesses, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Blantyre, Berkshire Bank, Toole Insurance Agency and Lee Bank all provided financial support for which the two Irish groups are most appreciative. Finally, Stephanie Abrams, who really started everything by a chance meeting in Ireland with Sheila Moffatt and who publicized the event all over the country on her travel show, really made this happen.
"It was a great day for the Irish" as the song goes and it was an unforgettable time for those of us who saw the show and got to meet some new friends. We will be meeting soon to plan how we bring this talented group back.