Find the Craic in Derry Girls

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Are you old enough to remember when network TV rolled out the new shows of fall season just before school started? I thought it might be fun to suggest some Irish TV favorites of mine for those longer fall nights that are coming all too soon.

The most fun (Craic) is Derry Girls on Netflix. I have binge-watched two seasons and want to fly over to Ireland to watch season 3 like the folks in Derry are doing at this very moment. I had vaguely heard the series name but what really got my attention were the billboards I saw in May as I was entering the City of Derry (Londonderry).  

Those of you who know me know that the peace and reconciliation story of Northern Ireland have been a passion and concern of mine since I visited family in County Antrim before and during “The Troubles”. Many more of you know I visited Derry this May to pray and meditate for a Brexit solution that would not undo the progress that has been made. (The fear being that hard borders bring back the trauma of soldiers, uniforms and guns where now finally there are none.)

This hysterically funny sit-com set on the Bog Side of Derry follows the adventures and misadventures of four high school girls and one “lad” at an all-girls Catholic school. The salty language and the risqué topics might surprise you at first but it is Irish black humor at its best. And the treatment of the realities of living as a teenager during the Troubles is artfully done.

I heard on the radio that Americans are asking Netflix for sub-titles, even though it is in English, because the NI accents are so thick. But I grew up with a grandfather who never lost his brogue and with lots of Irish visitors, so I love listening to these wonderful TV characters carry on. Some folks may also find it challenging to follow the references to “The Troubles”.  I urge folks to use the show as a catalyst to learn more. 

Greg McVicker, author of Through the Eyes of a Belfast Child, will be a guest blogger soon. His story of growing up in Belfast during this same period is also compelling and edifying to those in the US who have no idea the tension and violence people in both cities endured. Greg, too, has great humor as do the writers of Derry Girls. Yet, they tell a very serious story.

I also am posting an article on Brexit’s impact on today’s NI border. I spoke about  my visit to Derry this May in an earlier blog. And I will keep prompting dialogue here because the issues are so relevant to our learning about relating to differences, to the “Other” here in the States as well.

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A shout out also to Single-handed, a police procedural with a handsome Garda (policeman) who travels the gorgeous road along Killary Fjord (Leenane to Tullycross, Galway) at the start of each show. That opening scene is worth watching in and of itself. I have visited the Tullycross pub featured in the series both before and after I watched the show. I get a big kick out of having a pint there.

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A darker detective story, Jack Taylor, is set in Galway City. The featured pub there is Crane’s Bar. You can bet I have been there. In fact, I have a picture of a regular at the bar whom I imagine having seen in the series.

Although none of these later suggestions are new, I must mention one more. Ballykissangel set in a pub and centered around a young priest/the woman who owned the pub and the locals. It was based in Avoca, County Wicklow, although it had the feel and look of western Ireland. It laced humor and romance, or at least unrequited love with beautiful scenery. Of course, I had to visit that pub, too. One store owner, at BK Souvenirs shared his memories of the filming. The series is harder to find but I would try Acorn.