By Joyce Fegan
The night belonged to Mná na hÉireann at the IFTA Gala Television Awards tonight with Derry Girls’ Lisa McGee winning Best Writer in Comedy or Soap, the show also taking home the prize for best Comedy and Catastrophe creator Sharon Horgan dedicating her award to the women of Ireland.
It was also a great night for Cork, with The Young Offenders taking home awards for Best Male Performer and Best Director.
Emmy-nominated writer, actor and producer Sharon Horgan, whose show Catastrophe depicts the reality of parenting, dedicated her Best Female Performer win to “Mná na hÉireann.”
“It’s a wonderful week to be here and this is for Mná na hÉireann and for all the amazing men and women who have made a wonderful and beautiful country even better,” Horgan said.
The writer, who strongly supported a Yes vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, said the last few weeks had been very emotional for her.
“I was emotional about it the entire time, sitting in the back of cabs crying, sitting in pubs crying, at home with my girls crying, it was just so extraordinary and such a wonderful result. I’m so happy for us as a country,” she said.
Horgan, whose hit show Catastrophe is now in its fourth series, said the best part of her job is when women come up to her on the street and talk about the comedy.
“It’s honest to god the best part of making the show is the ladies who are coming up to me and tell me that I’ve been spying on their lives and that it’s helped a little bit in some way when you’re going through the shitty bits to know that it’ll be fine in the end. It’s the best bit,” she said.
Another comedy that was a big hit at the IFTA Gala TV awards tonight was Derry Girls, taking home Best Writer for Lisa McGee and Best Comedy, having beat off competition such as The Young Offenders.
McGee described the town of Derry as being a place of “wit and warmth” when accepting her award.
“I’m from a place that hasn’t allowed itself to be defined by its difficulties, it’s defined by its wit and warmth,” said McGee.
And despite missing out on the comedy award, there were two wins for The Young Offenders, which took home Best Director for Peter Foott and Best Male Performance for Chris Walley, who was not there to collect his award.
Foott thanked the cast and crew but paid special mention to his son.
“This is for my son Jake who I do everything for to try and impress him,” said the director.
Other winners on the night included Room to Improve with Dermot Bannon dedicating the award to 15-year-old Michael Stokes, who spawned the hashtag #tinybuttough after his appearance on the show in 2016.
Bannon also thanked the clients and homeowners who “make the show”.
Best Entertainment went to Dancing with the Stars, with The Tommy Tiernan Show, Ireland’s Got Talent, and The Cutting Edge also nominated in this category.
Best Current Affairs was won by RTE Investigates: Nightmare to Let.
The team dedicated the award to the people who are homeless in Ireland, “who don’t even have cramped conditions to live in”.
Best Documentary was won by Shaw: My Astonishing Life.
Awards were given out across 23 TV categories, with shows broadcast on all of the Irish broadcasters, RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, be3, TG4 and BBC Northern Ireland.
Tommy Tiernan, Deirdre O’Kane, Des Bishop, and Jennifer Zamparelli all presented awards.
Guests on the night included Miriam O’Callaghan, Kathryn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Matt Cooper and John Connors, who made a moving speech about the Traveller community in Ireland.
He said they will continue to fight for their rights in Ireland.
Shay Healy also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight’s awards, while Marty Morrissey won TV Personality.
The ceremony, which was filmed in Dublin’s RDS, will be broadcast on Saturday night at 10.30pm on TG4.