Actor and MEP reflect on life of a hero

MEP Seán Kelly and actor Donal Courtney with the authentic golf club used by Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

MEP Seán Kelly switched his thoughts from Brexit to history and from football to World War II this Sunday night when he had an unusual role to play at the close of an engaging one-man show.

The Fine Gael politician turned his hand to the role of interviewer when he questioned Killarney thespian Donal Courtney about the background of his portrayal of wartime hero Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty in the hit drama God has no country.

Donal Courtney in the role of the monsignor

The show was staged at Siamsa Tire in Tralee – as part of Courtney’s 32-county tour – and the MEP and the star of the show took on stage after the performance to moderate an audience discussion and reflect on the monsignor’s life and times growing up in Killarney and any other topic that arose.

Written and produced by Donal Courtney, God has no country tells the story of O’Flaherty’s exploits in Rome where he and his colleagues set about the task of protecting those in need from German occupancy.

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

By the end of the war, the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican had helped over 6,500 Jews, American and British soldiers escape from the Germans and Monsignor O’Flaherty received many decorations, including the US Medal of Freedom.

Born in Kiskeam, Hugh grew up in Killarney, where his father was the steward of the old Killarney Golf Club. He had a vocation for the priesthood and, as a young seminarian, he was posted to Rome in 1922. The war time hero retired to Caherciveen for the last three years of his life and passed away in 1963.

O’Flaherty’s story is told with humour and sensitivity, re-enacted by the Killarney actor and the play aims to bring the heroic deeds and achievements of this extraordinary man to a wider audience.

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