The Lord Mayor of Limerick and the Norwegian Ambassador were both in the Belltable to open a special exhibition by photographer Deirdre Power on June 20th. The exhibition, which runs until July 9 th documents a collaboration between Island Theatre Company, St Marys Local Arts Group and local children.
The project involved sixteen children working on a production. Four members of the local Arts Group who were learning how to
teach drama assisted them. When it was discovered that Norwegian children had
been buried in the grounds of St Munchins Church (pictured above) where the rehearsals were
taking place, the children decided to devise a show, which explained how these
children ended up in Limerick.
In 1868 a Norwegian ship, "the Hannah Parr" was caught in a storm mid Atlantic and forced to seek the nearest port for necessary repairs. Thus 400 Norwegian refugees lay down their belongings on the Limerick docks for two months. During this time several died and were buried in St Munchin's graveyard where Island Theatre Company have their headquarters. Using historical records the children recreated the Norwegian's interactions with the locals.
The rehearsal process was documented by local photographer Deirdre Power. She attended months of rehearsals and took over 1,000 photos.
The young actors were further bolstered by messages of support and historical pieces of information sent by descendants of the ships passengers and crew. All recorded, these communications arrived in Limerick via email from places such as Minnesota, Florida and Norway. Examples of the messages here.
Theatre practitioner Niamh Bowen who designed the programme says "the children's graves lie unmarked to this day but are now remembered posthumously through theatre by the children. The arrival of the ships passengers onto a foreign shore having neither knowledge of language or customs still has a resonance today"