In his short story “The Dead,” James Joyce wrote of a dinner party set in Joyce’s aunts’ home on the evening of the feast of the Epiphany. The characters and conversation are described vividly, as is the meal around which the entire narrative is woven. And while the people who attended the Philadelphia event brought current topics of conversation to the table, the meal that was presented for the dinner party on January 6, 2010 was meticulously authentic to Joyce’s words, as was the spirit.
Over 30 people attended The Dead Dinner at the Plough & the Stars. The evening began with cocktails and then moved upstairs to a family-style dinner, the menu for which was transferred from the page with culinary flair, served by wait staff in period attire. The courses were presented in conjunction with the story as shown in clips from John Huston’s acclaimed film adaptation of “The Dead.” During the meal, guests were inspired by the Ireland Fund’s mission by CEO Kieran McLoughlin and a video presentation highlighting Ireland Fund projects. Actors Michael Toner and Allen Radway from Philadelphia’s Inis Nua Theatre Company, directed by Tom Reing, delivered Gabriel’s speech and the final passage of the story. And though Joyce finished his evening with snow falling throughout Ireland, luckily in Philadelphia, everyone was able to enjoy the food, company, and live music without worrying about braving the weather home.
Special thanks to the staff from the Plough & the Stars for their continued dedication to The American Ireland Fund and this event, and to Greg Gillespie of Port Richmond Books who brought so many of his friends and made a generous donation of books for the raffle and live auction.