Bringing to life the forgotten secrets of Dungannon’s most influential historical figure

A NEW play which delves into the past to bring a forgotten Tyrone heroine back to life will be performed for the first time on a Dungannon stage after a successful tour of Ireland and the UK.

Awakening a Nation, which dramatises the life of Margaret Noble, also known as Sister Nivedita, has already been well received in Birmingham, Belfast and Dublin.

First performed by The Noble Thespians in the Craic Theatre in 2011, the play will be showcased at the Ranfurly Arts Centre on Saturday February 16 at 7pm.

The evening starts with light refreshments, a viewing of an exhibition and introduction by Dr. Satish Kumar, Director of India Initiative, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Noble, who was born in Dungannon in 1867, has been celebrated as a pioneering humanitarian and is one of the most revered women in Indian history.

In 2011, she was voted Tyrone’s Greatest Person Ever by readers of the Tyrone Times.

The missionary teacher was rescued from obscurity by Jean McGuinness, retired lecturer from Queen’s University Belfast, who wrote a dissertation on Sister Nivedita’s life in the Irish Language.

Since the 100th anniversary celebration of Margaret’s death in 2011, Dungannon has become an unlikely pilgrimage destination for Hindus, in particular those from India.

Christine McGowan Arts Officer at the Ranfurly Arts Centre said Noble’s Dungannon birth-place had attracted international interest, especially from India.

“Margaret Noble was a very influential person in the history of India and played a pivotal role in developing its culture and educational system.

“To this day, there are many schools named after her, and she is also honoured in an Indian postage stamp.

“It is not surprising that we have already had some visitors from India, interested in finding out more about her birthplace.

“We are also expecting a number of Indian people to visit us this year in relation to Margaret Noble, as well as Hindus from other parts of the world.”

Noble, who was also known as Sister Nivedita was a gifted teacher, social worker, author and nun initiated by Swami Vivekananda in 1897 and served in Kolkata and around in India.

She took service of mankind as the true service to God and is said to be the first Western woman to join an Indian monastic order. She championed causes of female education, woman welfare, India’s independence, and revolutionized the Indian Art movement. She authored various books, including Religion and Dharma. India issued a stamp in 1967 in her honour. Author Indra Gupta included her in India’s 50 Most Illustrious Women.