A glittering crowd, headed by the evening’s co-chairs, Loretta Brennan Glucksman and “Riverdance” director John McColgan, turned out to show their support for Ireland’s national theater company.
Ireland’s national theater, which was founded by Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats and J.M. Synge, was founded in 1903 and dedicated itself to promoting and developing new Irish plays. Over the years, plays by every important Irish playwright, from George Bernard Shaw to Sean O’Casey to Eugene O’Neill, have been performed at the Abbey.
As befits a theatrical evening, there was fabulous entertainment. Hollywood star Gabriel Byrne, looking glamorously tousled, told plenty of stories – some funny, some touching — as he introduced the evening’s performers. Actress Fionnula Flanagan read a Molly Bloom passage from “Ulysses,” and Donal Donnelly performed material from GB Shaw. Brian Dennehy read letters from Eugene O’Neill, and Milo O’Shea brought the house down with a double-barreled performance: a scene from O’Casey’s “Shadow of the Gunman” and a recitation of Yeats’s “Ballad of Fr. Gilligan.”