The event, which took place at the Milk Market in the city centre, featured a graphic retelling of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Parents were left “incensed” when an American Church, Global Ventures, then spoke of relatives who had allegedly taken their own lives.
The organisers of the festival, which was marketed as being ‘family friendly’, have distanced themselves from the performers behind the drama, saying they now “regret” that it “slipped by our screening process”.
Mary Barry Larkin, who travelled to the Good Friday drama with her three young children, said: “We attended this event as a family night out of music, face-painting, and it ended in me having to console my children.”
Brad Beebe, co-ordinator of the festival, said: “We are saddened this slipped through and people were upset.”
Ms Barry Larkin, a religion teacher at Scoil Mhuire agus Íde in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, said: “I wouldn’t present that drama to teenagers, it was that violent. It was lovely when we first came in — there was face-painting, a traditional band with kids dancing,” she said.
However, a retelling of the crucifixion then took place, followed by a drama presentation.
“It was like they were visually trying to depict the struggle between good and evil," said Ms Barry Larkin.
A guy came out on stage, dressed in black from head to toe, with a knife with red paint on it to signify blood. At the end of the night, the main character in the play, the teenage girl, was slitting her wrists.
It was at this point that she left with her children. However, as she was exiting, she said the speaker was recalling family members who had “killed themselves, thrown themselves into the river due to drugs use”.
“It was wholly inappropriate,” she said, adding her children were left struggling to sleep that night as a result.
“It’s not the kind of thing any family should see. But what I am more concerned at is the deception. It should have been described and made very clear so I, as a parent, had a choice in whether to go to this event or not. My children know Jesus died on the cross and rose again. But they don’t need to see it in such a graphic manner,” said Ms Barry Larkin.
Another parent, Damian Coughlan, tweeted: “This was an evangelical event organised by a US missionary. Should this not have been advertised? Some transparency would go a long way.”
@TheMilkMarket Should you not advertise the Easter Festival as being an Evangelical event organised by a U.S. missionary? Some transparency would go a long way #LimerickMilkMarket #Limerick @Limerick_Leader @limerickpost @LimerickCouncil— ダミアン (@damiancou) March 30, 2018
While the festival was organised by a group of local churches and charities, this segment was delivered by Global Ventures, based in Oklahoma in America’s Bible Belt.
Mr Beebe said the presentation by Global Ventures, was “not appropriate” in light of the “teen suicide issue” in Ireland.
“We wanted the event to be fun and upbeat and present the true reason for Easter and Good Friday in a way that would be entertaining, but not in a scary manner,” he said.
When contacted, Global Ventures referred all queries to Mr Beebe.
The festival took place at the Milk Market, and although the venue had no part in running the event, its manager David Fitzgerald also issued an apology.