Colour and Drama on the Altar on Good Friday

They promised great pageantry and a back-up choir for the Good Friday dramatisation of the passion and death of Christ at the Church of Sts. Stephen & John.
That’s exactly what the Tralee based, St. John’s Parish Players and Choir delivered.  They entertained the near capacity crowd with scenes we never witnessed in the parish church here before.
In spite of the fact that they had performed the whole ‘show’ twice – once in rehearsals – already that day in Tralee, they gave it all and everything for their fresh and appreciative audience in Castleisland.
It was billed as ‘A Solemn Celebration of the Passion and Death of Christ’ – with musicians, singers and a 30 plus strong cast of actors in costume.
The well suited costumes are the produce of the women of the group and their sewing machines. They were made initially for the Tralee group’s involvement in the Fr. Pat Ahern created ‘Dance of Life’ pageant in 2000. This was a celebration of the   coming of the Millennium. It involved 800 singers and a cast of 200 and was performed in the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet.  And God knows both models and garments are wearing well.
The group performed the first ever animated Good Friday ceremony at this ideal ‘venue’ and it proved a master stroke for the genial PP Monsignor Dan O’Riordan.
‘Fr. Dan’ – as he is known in the area, is a former PP of the St. John’s Parish in Tralee and he had the inside track when it came to coaxing the talented troupe out of their natural habitat.
“He’s a great man for the parish,” “That was like bringing the whole story of Good Friday to life – like you were there,” “I’ve never seen anything like this here before and I hope they do it again.”
These are just a handful of the positive comments which flowed from the delighted and entertained audience in the immediate wake of the event.
A huge number of the attendance stayed back to do the Stations of the Cross. The church stayed open up to midnight to facilitate the crowds doing so.
Members of the parish council had tables with tea and biscuits laid out in St. John’s Hall for all afterwards. It gave locals and visitors an opportunity to mix and meet.
Someone wondered aloud if it would be fair to ask the St. John’s troupe to go through the same passion again next year.
It was more than a twelve-hour plus day for them.  Putting on a performance in their own church, lugging props from Tralee to here and back again mightn’t be quite Calvary but it mounts up to a tough day’s work.
It was a credit to all concerned and the thunderous round of applause at the end was a fair reflection of how it all went down with its new audience.