Oberammergau 2010


At 5.30am on Saturday 26 June a number of parishoners, friends and relatives set out by coach for Dublin airport on the first stage of a journey via Amsterdam and Munich to the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau. At each stage of the journey a few more joined the party.

The purpose of the visit was to attend the Passion play performed in the village. The play dates back to 1633, when during the Thirty Years War, after months of suffering and many dying from the Plague, the villagers promised every tenth year they would perform a play about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They have kept their word and performed the play for 375 years.

The 2010 performance is the 41st.The first performance was on a wooden platform in the graveyard. Today is is staged in a theatre which seats 4700. The audience seating is under a roof, but the stage is in the open air. This year a retractable roof has been provided which can move forward to cover the stage in increment weather.

Approximately 2400 of the around 5000 inhabitants take part in the play (to participate they must have been born in the village or lived there for at least 20 years).

Casting takes place the year before and from a certain date men must not shave or have their hair cut. The play has developed over the years but for all major changes a village referendum is held, and the voting can be quite close.

We stayed in Oberammergau on Saturday and Sunday nights, the group being accommodated in a number of village homes, farmhouses, apartments or small hotels. The villagers split their time between looking after guests and taking part in the play, and can be spotted with their long hair rushing on their bicycles to the theatre.

  On the Sunday morning an introduction to the play in English was given by the Director. He explained the history of the play with the involvement of his family in every performance since the first.

The play portrays the events of Holy Week. At intervals the Narrator and Chorus sing about events in the history of the Israelites which are then portrayed on the inner stage by tableau. The actors in these have to hold their poses for up to four minutes. The play finishes with the Crucifixion and the bodies being taken down. This year the Resurrection was represented by a scene with the women gathered at a fire when the news is broken to them. The actors leave the stage leaving the burning flame.

Monday morning was free time to wander around the village, to visit local churches or museums, to do some shopping or just to sit in cafes and watch the world go by.

One of the village houses    

  After lunch we boarded our coach for the journey to the Salzkammergut in Austria where we stayed at the Seethurnhof Hotel in Strobl on the Wolfgangsee for the rest of the week and were made most welcome by the owners and staff.    

Our Rep in Strobl

Cooling off!

  On arrival we were met by Patsy, our Rep for the rest our stay. Living nearby she joined us for meals in the hotel and guided the arranged excursions.

On Tuesday some of the group went on an excursion to Salzburg where they visited the Miramar Gardens and Hellibrum Castle..

Wednesday saw an outing around the lakes, starting with a visit to St Wolfgang, then by boat across the Wolfgangsee to St Gilgen. From there the coach went on to Mondsee Cathedral (scene of the wedding scene in Sound of Music), along the Mondsee and Attersee and over the hills to Altmunster before turning south to Traunkirchen on the Traunsee to visit the church with a pulpit representing the fishing boat. In Bad Ischl the group indulged in chocolate cake or ice-cream in a cafe before returning to Strobl.


The SchafbergBahn cog railway

  On Thursday morning a local guided a group around Strobl telling about local history and some famous people who had lived in the village

Thursday evening was a dinner in the impressive Baroque hall of the Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant in Salzburg. Before the dinner and between courses a bass and mezzo-soprano accompanied by a string quartet entertained with well known Mozart songs frrom the Marriage of Figaro, the Magic Flute etc.
Friday was a free day and was used to walk, cycle, shop, rest or to visit places with pleasant memories of previous visits.

Soon the week was over and on Saturday morning the coach picked up at 11am for the 3½ hour journey to Munich for the return flights via Amsterdam to Dublin.

A pilgrimage / a holiday with superb weather will long be remembered by those who participated.

View from the slopes of the Schafberg



St Wolfgang and the Schafberg

Lunch at the summit of the Zwölferhorn

  Mondsee cathedral  

Interior of Mondsee cathedral

  Pulpit in Traunkirchen church  

Heaven for Chocaholics in Bad Ischl

  Guided walk of Strobl   Walking - cycling - fresh air  

Evening Prayer

Baroque hall of the Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant

  Holy Communion on the Hotel patio  
  The pilgrims  
  Hotel Seethurnhof, Strobl

Owmers and staff