The movie competed in the Venice Film Festival of 1998. It won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actor in a Female Role by Brid Brennan. It was also nominated for 6 other awards, including the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Feature Film and the Best Actress Award for Meryl Streep.
Meryl streep in dancing at lughnasa
Cast and characters
Meryl Streep – Kate Mundy
Michael Gambon – Father Jack Mundy
Catherine McCormack – Christina Mundy
Kathy Burke – Maggie Mundy
Sophie Thompson – Rose Mundy
Bríd Brennan – Agnes Mundy
Rhys Ifans – Gerry Evans
Darrell Johnston – Michael Mundy
Lorcan Cranitch – Danny Bradley
Peter Gowen – Austin Morgan
Dawn Bradfield – Sophie McLoughlin
Marie Mullen – Vera McLoughlin
John Kavanagh – Father Carlin
Kate O'Toole – Chemist
Reception and awards
Although the film received average reviews (65% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes), most critics praised the performances of the entire cast. Janet Maslin, critic of the New York Times said that "Meryl Streep has made many a grand acting gesture in her career, but the way she simply peers out a window in Dancing at Lughnasa ranks with the best. Everything the viewer need know about Kate Mundy, the woman she plays here, is written on that prim, lonely face and its flabbergasted gaze." Peter Travis of Rolling Stone magazine wrote that "a luminous cast reveals long-buried feelings. Meryl Streep finds the expansive soul behind prim schoolteacher Kate. And she is matched by Kathy Burke's bawdy Maggie, Brid Brennan's secretive Agnes, Sophie Thompson's slow-witted Rose and Catherine McCormack's bold Christina, who never married the father of her son." Darrell Johnston, the youngest of the cast was also nominated for a best young actor in a supporting role. A crowning achievement given this was his first real introduction to a Hollywood screen.
Kathy Burke received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress - Drama from the International Press Academy (Satellite Awards).
A display of mementos from the filming is on display at the St. Connell's Museum in Glenties.