A Holy Show - 1981 flight hijacked for the third secret of Fatima

By Hayden Moore

Have you ever had such a burning desire to know what The Third Secret of Fatima is? Well, one man did in 1981 when he hijacked an Aer Lingus plane en route to London in a hilarious attempt to get the Pope to release it to the world.

‘A Holy Show’ written by Janet Moran takes a look back to a time when smoking on planes was the norm and tells the naturally-comical story of when an ex-Trappist Monk hijacked Flight 164 bound for London.

A Holy Show stars Roseanna Purcell and Mark Fitzgerald who previously starred in Copper Face Jacks The Musical 1 compressor

A Holy Show stars Roseanna Purcell and Mark Fitzgerald, who previously starred in Copper Face Jacks The Musical

Right in the thick of rehearsals ahead of their 25-show run, in which they will visit The Civic Theatre right in the middle of it for two-nights only, Janet caught up with The Echo to fill us in on what to expect from the show.

There’s always the nervous part where something that has come from your mind gets put out there for an audience to watch and enjoy and judge, how did it feel personally when it was received so well?

I’m so happy that it was received well and I was so incredibly nervous when it was first on because we did the Dublin Fringe and Edinburgh.

It was on in the Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray and I was sitting in the back row, and after it I went to stand up to leave and I had to sit back down because my legs had turned to jelly.

It’s nerve-wracking because you know that if this is nonsense then you’re to blame, it’s all on you.

You’ve not only written ‘A Holy Show’, but you’re directing it too! How does the process differ?

I’ve done a lot of acting in my time and I’ve seen how it kind of works behind the scenes so I know how to do all that because I’ve seen it.

I’m a bit of a control freak as well so I like to do it all.

The first time I did a lot of re-writing when I was in the room with the cast because I was still working it out but now that we’ve done a good few shows I know that ‘right you need to pause there because there should be a laugh now’ and just things like that.

This is something based on a real-life event? Would you say the source material was just begging to be made into some sort of production?

Yeah! It’s an absolute mad story. Basically in 1981 an ex-Trappist monk, who was a bit of a colourful character hijacked a plane going to London in a bid to try force the Pope to release The Third Secret of Fatima.

I was telling one of my good friends that I was thinking of writing something about it, he’s 101 actually, and his son happened to be on the flight.

So, I was able to interview him and get a first-hand account of what happened – some of the stuff on the flight was just hilarious.

What is it like to work with Roseanna Purcell and Mark Fitzgerald?

They’re fantastic, they were in Copper Face Jacks The Musical.

They are really great at what they do, so professional and have great comedic timing. They’re a lot more hardworking then I would be.

You were in The Butcher Boy! What was it like to be part of a film that has become such a beloved piece of Irish culture?

Wow that’s a nice way to look at it. I only had a very small part in it as the shopkeeper, but I love Pat McCabe (the writer) and I hadn’t thought of it that way.

It is nice to be part of something that has become an iconic film in Ireland.

How did it come about that you worked with Stuart Carolan early on in Love/Hate?

I played the wife of a gangster in the first season. Again I only had a small part and it just consisted of me screaming in the kitchen.

I had a good little part where I was threatening Robbie [Sheehan].

It was a good bit of fun.

Irish people have an infatuation with the 80s, can audiences expect to be transported back in time?

Yeah I really hope so. I wanted to take an affectionate look back at that time to see what we were like socially, how religion was a large part of our lives, what we were eating and all.

We used to be able to smoke on planes at that time, I suppose it was much more innocent times back then.

Tickets to ‘A Holy Show’ on February 11 and 12 are available from Civic Theatre

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