One of the film’s most stirring scenes takes place, as does the majority of the film, in the cottage of the five Mundy sisters in fictional Ballybeg, County Donegal. It is early August 1936, and the feast of Lughnasa approaches.
The sisters, including the character of Kate Mundy (portrayed by Streep), are home, knitting, cooking, reading, just passing time. After a few seconds of static on the family’s short-wave radio, a reel finally cuts through. One sister after the other gives way to the urge to take to the floor. The rigid behavior so much a part of God-fearing Irish propriety yields to surrender, to the irresistible call of the music and to their own once-unbridled and passionate natures.