The African Priest in Kilcullen

The Kilcullen Drama Group will stage Dancing at Lughnasa this week in aid of a local priest’s work in Tanzania. Group PRO Bernard Berney explains how the Irish play fits this theme.

The Kilcullen Drama Group will stage Dancing at Lughnasa this week in aid of a local priest’s work in Tanzania. Group PRO Bernard Berney explains how the Irish play fits this theme.

Recently I watched a series on RTE about Catholic Missionaries in various countries.

Included were stories of the Maynooth Mission to China, the enormous number of priests and nuns, including the Medical Missionaries of Mary, who went “to bring the good news” to Africa.

Many of the early missionaries died from exposure to strange tropical diseases before their fortieth birthdays. Nevertheless, the extraordinary generosity of the young people of that time, continued to supply willing and able people to do good works among the poor. Of course, it was not all perfect but the altruistic endeavours of some of those people still bears fruit today.

All this brings me, by a circuitous route, to Fr. Dan Noud of Suncroft and the Kilcullen Drama Group’s production of Brian Friel’s wonderful play, “Dancing at Lughnasa”.

Fr. Dan Noud has spent over forty years working with the people of Tanzania. This summer he returns to his beloved Tanzania for, as he so poignantly puts it, the last time.

On Friday April 8 next the Kilcullen Drama Group presents “Dancing at Lughnasa” in The Town Hall Kilcullen. The proceeds from this night will go towards Fr. Noud’s work in Tanznia. It will be only a tiny contribution in terms of money but, it will be a powerful message of appreciation to Fr. Dan for all the work he has done over the past forty years.

The strange coincidence is that in Friel’s play one of the principal characters, Fr. Jack, is a priest returned home after 25 years missionary work in a leper colony in Uganda. He had gone there to convert the people to the Catholic faith but, it seems, their influence on him was quite powerful. Brian Friel recognised that while preaching the message of Jesus Christ was a worthy exercise, trying to impose our culture on the Africans was sheer foolishness. Genius that he is, he exposed this error by allowing Jack to embrace the African culture. Fr. Jack delights in the ceremonies and rituals of his Ugandan flock much to the dismay of his Irish family. This play, and Fr. Dan Noud’s peripheral involvement in it, is a strange coming together of events.

The show runs from Thursday 7 to Saturday 16 April at Kilcullen Town Hall. Bookings can be made at Berney’s Chemist, Kilcullen at 045 481497.