Magdalene story revisited as Eclipsed opens next week at An Taibhdhearc

The classic play Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan which revisits the much documented story of the abuses in church-run laundries will open for a three-night run in An Taibhdhearc next week.

The production by Claregalway-Carnmore-based Compantas Lir will be staged at the city venue from Thursday March 27, Friday March 28 and Saturday March 29.

Performances by the group sell out quickly every year so patrons are urged to buy their tickets as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment.

Framed by a present-day prologue and epilogue, the two-act play is set mainly in 1963 in a convent laundry at St. Paul's Home for Penitent Women in Killmacha, Ireland. Eclipsed was inspired by the practice - which started in the time of the Famine, and lasted well into the 1960s and even longer - of making pregnant and unwed Irish mothers work as 'penitents' in church-run laundries.

Supervised by nuns who regarded these women as mindless vessels of evil, the women were treated as virtual slaves and their infants were forcibly put up for adoption.

Compantás Lir have been touring Ireland wih this production on the amateur drama circuit for the last month and these are their sole Galway city performances.

Formed in 1983, Compántás Lir has grown from strength to strength thanks to a strong acting cast, skilled crew, enthusiastic helpers and a hard working committee. The group have featured strongly on the amateur festival circuit, gathering more than 500 awards down the years.

Eclipsed describes an Ireland where attitudes were either black or white and where human frailty was met with harshness and a lack of Christian compassion. Unmarried mothers were disowned and abandoned by their families while, at the same time, the concept of unmarried fathers was unknown. Despised and rejected by society where "out of sight, out of mind" was the solution of the day, those unfortunates either took the boat to England or were signed into homes for unmarried mothers. The play examines the price paid by those girls and by the nuns into whose care they were entrusted. It is a tragic story, interspersed with laughter, which holds the harsh attitudes of society up to scrutiny, but which also shows the resilience of the human spirit.

The cast of Eclipsed, directed by Philip Cribben, includes Liz Hession, Stella Fleming, Úna Duffy, Ruth O’ Driscoll, Mary Killackey, Maura Mannion, Kate McCarthy and Áine Cahalan.

Tickets are on sale at €15 and €12.50 and can be bough from 091 563 600 or from www.antaibhdhearc.com

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