The Good Thief

Sister Emmanuel (formerly Teresa Parle of Taghmon)

THe glorious success of the Camross Passion Play during the Millennium year brought to mind another Passion Play which was staged in Taghmon about fifty years earlier - in the early 1950s. It was acted by the members of St. Fintan's Boys Club and was written and produced by the Taghmon Catholic Curate of the time Fr. Jerry Anglim C.C. It was first staged on St. Patrick's night and continued for a number of performances. Most residents of the parish went to see the production. Colourful period costumes and well-arranged tableaux were features that were set off by very effective lighting of the stage. The committee consisted of Messrs. Tommy Williams (R.I.P.); Nicky Brady (R.I.P.); Gerald Ledwith (R.I.P.); Paddy Quigley and John Ryan N.T. The President of the club was Fr. Anglim. The cast of the Passion Play was as follows:
Christ: Nicholas Whitty
B.V.M.: Teresa Parle
Dimas (The Good Thief): Tom Lennon
Gesmos (The Bad Thief): Paddy Walsh
St. Joseph: Billy Furlong
Benjamin (Shepherd of Bethlehem):Tom Furlong
Linus (A Roman): Seamus Seery
Marcus (Roman Centurion): Tom Furlong Jnr. (R.I.P.)
Pontius Pilate: Des Walsh
Barrabas: Tommy Waters
Annas & Caiphus & other High Priests: Tomas Williams; Luke Donovan; Donald Donovan; Michael Bradley; Jim Whitty (R.I.P.)

The lady who played the part of the Virgin Mary was Teresa Parle, then a resident of Poulmarle, Taghmon. On leaving school she became a Sister of Mercy nun and has been in Natal, South Africa for many years. Now known as Sister Emmanuel, she has been a member of Taghmon Historical Society since it was founded. Recently she corresponded with us and, in an article entitled 'The Good Thief' she shared her memories of that Passion Play. We print her article hereunder:

The Good Thief

It is impossible to describe the excitement of the Taghmon children who took part in 'The Good Thief' in the early fifties. Few, if any of us, had ever seen, let alone acted, in anything as wonderful as a play. The cinema in the village was still comparatively new and 'going to the pictures' and getting into the world of fantasy was a very occasional treat for most, if not all of us.

The excitement of ordinary boisterous youngsters dressing in strange costumes and impersonating people who were completely foreign to us soon changed us, as we began to live our parts in the way of the cross and the crucifixion of the Saviour. I'm sure the parents found it hard to recognise their lively offspring in the gentle forgiving Christ, the vicious soldiers, the compassionate and broken-hearted mother of God, Mary Magdalene, Veronica and St. John.

Personally, I wonder if the compassion of the Virgin for her suffering Son, acted out in the play, sowed the seeds of a vocation to be a Sister of Mercy, so that I could bring the compassion of Mary and her Son, still suffering to the poor and lonely in south Africa. I think it had a lot to do with it. With hindsight I can see that it certainly made me realise the power for good in the dramatisation of Gospel scenes and led me to drive home many a moral lesson in a painless, fun filled way through the medium of drama during my years as a teacher. The experience of being in that play and in 'Our Lady of Guadeloupe', must have had a good effect on all of us. It certainly brought about a great spirit of community and solidarity amongst all the parishioners, which came to the fore particularly when word went round the village that 'the Blessed Virgin has the measles' a few days before the latter play was due to be staged in the local hall. The Virgin with the measles was inconsolable but Tom Lennon (?) gallantly stepped into the blue dress and veil and saved the day.

I wonder if Fr. Anglim (R.I.P.) ever realised what a wonderful job he did for the youth of Taghmon and what a wonderful, simple joy he brought to each one.

Sister Emmanuel (Teresa Parle) in 1994