Bandon's Sr Alphonsus (102) still full of Easter passion as play in 8th year

April 18th, 2019 8:05 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

At St Patrick's Church Bandon for the dress rehearsal for the Good Friday presentation of On Calvary Hill were cast members with 102-year-old Sr Alphonsus O'Brien, seated, who is in charge of the production.

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NOW in its eighth year, the Good Friday Passion Drama, with the much-loved Sr Alphonsus at the helm, is always an eagerly-anticipated event in Bandon over the Easter weekend. 

And this year a brother-in-law of well-known BBC presenter Graham Norton – Noel Giles – will be playing the lead role of Jesus Christ.

At a remarkable 102 years of age, which she only celebrated just two weeks ago, dedicated teacher Sr Alphonsus is producing ‘On Calvary’s Hill’.  

Not only that, but she is also currently preparing students for their gold medal and diploma exams in drama, which take place after Easter.

‘With a cast of approximately 50, ranging in age from six to 102, we are currently in the thick of it with rehearsals at the moment,’ said assistant producer Esther Sinnott.

‘It was eight years ago when Sr Alphonsus asked me to help her produce a Good Friday passion drama. I had no previous experience, but it was hard to say no, because of what it is. It has grown from strength to strength since and each year we are amazed by how it touches people.’

Esther added that what’s great about this production is the fact that the cast is made up of people in their parish from all walks of life, with no previous acting experience.

‘They really enjoy being involved and they give a lot of respect to the story being told. We also have many more people preparing the sets, costumes and all the background tasks too. Some of the cast are new to the play, while other have done it before but are taking on more challenging parts.’

Esther said they were delighted to have involvement from all nominations for their production and she highlighted the fact that Noel Giles, who is playing the lead role, is a member of the Methodist Church and has been involved in the production for the past three years.

‘People travel far and wide to the event and the audience is made up, not just of our parishioners, but also members of the Church of Ireland and Methodist community, and those who just like drama and a good production,’ added Esther.

Now a resident at Bushmount Nursing Home in Clonakilty, Sr Alphonsus’s heart still remains in Bandon, and is very appreciative of the care she receives from nursing staff there, added Esther.

‘On Calvary Hill’ will take place in St Patrick’s Church, Bandon on Good Friday April 19th at 7.30pm. All are welcome. In 2014 Sr Alphonsus broke her hip and was in hospital for three months, but it didn’t stop her then and now, five years on, nothing is stopping her now, either.

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