Heroic priest play set for American debut

Heroic priest play set for American debut Donal Courtney portraying Kerryman Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

A play about the heroic Irish priest Msgr Hugh O’Flaherty is set for its first overseas performances

God Has No Country, by Kerry actor and playwright Donal Courtney about the Rome-based World War Two priest, will be performed in Rochester, New York and Penn State University, Pennsylvania in March and April. There have been proposals to host the play in Singapore and Hong Kong too.

First written in 2013, the play sold out when performed in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre and Dundrum’s Mill Theatre in November 2016, and is returning to both venues later this month before going abroad.

“People from the States had seen the play and thought it would resonate there,” Mr Courtney told The Irish Catholic, saying they had appreciated the Irish storytelling approach in the play, and felt the story of Msgr O’Flaherty, famously played by Gregory Peck in 1983’s The Scarlet and the Black, should be better known.

The Kerry priest, who worked in Rome during the Second World War, is thought to have been responsible for saving as many as 6,500 people, notably escaped allied POWs, during the conflict.

Commenting on how the play tells the story through Msgr O’Flaherty’s eyes, Mr Courtney said, “He never would have talked about it in real life – never would have blown his own trumpet.”