FIFTY YEARS HENCE
(A Flight of the Imagination)
Taken from The Pelican magazine, Christmas 1955
Cast—CARETAKER, Visltor .
Scene opens: Caretaker alone, sweeping. Enter nervous gentleman who makes a very uncertain approach towards. the caretaker and eventually manages to attract his attention.
Caretaker: Good afternoon, sir.
(resumes work and after a pause looks up)
May I show you round, sir ?
Visltor : Thank you. I would be much obliged if you would. ,
Caretaker: Well, here we are in the hall. Ah, I see you are looking at the ceiling. Yes, a magnificent frescoe, sir. The feeding of the five thousand.
Visltor : By jove, extremely impressive. Who did it?
Caretaker: Father Mulligan, sir. Perhaps you have heard of him. Just now he is working on the Sistine Chapel in Rome, touching up the frescoes I believe.
Visltor : I see. And whose is this bust? I can just make out the lettering B. . E . . N. .
Caretaker: Must confess it's a bit of a mystery, sir. No one seems to know much about him. The bust was dug up a few years ago in the old tennis court where the Price Memorial now stands: but there isn't much information about the man himself.
Visltor : How very interesting. And along this corridor?
Caretaker: As you can see by the walls, sir, many of the old boys have left their mark on the place. This here is believed to be the imprint of the hand of the Venerable James O'Toole, whose beatification comes forward next month.
Visltor : And did he . . . ?
Caretaker: Yes, he made the ink marks too . . . always the one for a bit of fun, sir. And here's the tomb of the first Superior of the house, the Reverend Doctor Dooley. After being Superior here for more than thirty years he met a very tragic end—blown to pieces.
(Profuse weeping. Each tries to console the other).
Visltor : Dear, dear. A sort of gunpowder plot.
Caretaker: Oh no, sir, nothing like that: he was blasting rock out there on the playing fields. . . it was his favourite recreation, the poor soul.
Visltor : And who is the present Superior?
Caretaker: Father Reilly, sir. You must have heard of him.
Visltor : (mutters) Oh, really.
Caretaker: No sir, Reilly. That's it, sir, author of the book, "Call me Moses." Why, come to the window. That's him standing there, saying his breviary. As you probably know he tried to set on foot the White Fathers of the Strict Observance, but Cardinal O'Mahoney, the Superior General, wouldn't approve.
Visltor : Ah, Cardinal O'Mahoney. I've heard of him. And does he still go for a swim every morning?
Caretaker: No sir, not since Father Taylor was drowned . . . he took it very badly. This is Father Taylor's Memorial Tablet . . . yes, that's right, the one with "Asperges me" written on it. And here we are at the old chapel. As you know we now possess the biggest organ in the world.
Visltor : Ah yes. Made by Wildsmith and Wetz. Are they still in partnership?
Caretaker: Ah no, sir. A few years ago the Reverend Wildsmith broke his neck running downstairs. A great pity. That man had talent.
Visltor : And is Dom Jeddery Wynne still at Blacklion?
Caretaker: Oh yes, I can hear him playing now.
(Organ music. They look into the wings).
Visltor : Why, I am sure I saw someone there in a football jersey.
Caretaker: Dom Jeddery, sir. Very temperamental . . . insists on wearing his old First Eleven jersey and his old soccer boots whenever he plays, and we can't do anything with him or he insists he will go off and play in the Blacklion Odeon.
Visltor : I can see a monument through this window; is this the Price Memorial you were speaking of?
Caretaker: Oh no, sir. Archbishop Price's Memorial is further to the left. This is the Doherty Memorial.
Visltor : You mean the Father Doherty?
Caretaker: The same, sir.
Visltor : I heard him speaking at Farm Street. Last week.
Caretaker: He asked that a little memorial be erected to commemorate the work he had done here and his admiration for the Jesuits. Oh, do be careful, sir. You've torn your coat on the barbed wire. Yes sir, it is inconvenient having barbed wire in the corridors. It's poor Father Halligan . . . he keeps fencing in little bits here and there.
Visltor : Shall we go upstairs?
Caretaker: Well, let me see . . . I don't think it's advisable, sir ; you'd be torn to pieces.
Visltor : What, more fences?
Caretaker: No, the dogs, sir.
Visltor : Which dogs?
Caretaker: Well, sir, it's poor Father Cantwell. He keeps ten dogs on the first floor—and they are all called Fido. No one dares go near them. Sometimes they break loose and then . . .
Visltor : Well, I think I will be getting along now. (in panic).
Caretaker: I'm sorry you are in such a hurry, sir. I should like to have shown you the Cronin room. It used to be the Refectory but after Bishop Cronin's return from the U.S.A. it was converted into a museum to commemorate his exploits. Yes, his glass of milk is there, too. Shall I call you a taxi, sir?
Visltor : Yes. I'd be very much obliged if you would.
Caretaker: You're a taxi, sir.
Visltor : Thank you. Good day.
Albert Gardner, Fr Thomas Dooley and Fr Richard Cantwell