Irish Examiner View: Farewell to the Derry Girls

Channel 4 should be congratulated for a visionary decision to make and broadcast the popular comedy.
Irish Examiner View: Farewell to the Derry Girls

Derry Girls stars Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), Orla Mccool (Louisa Clare Harland), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson).

So we have seen the last episode, an hour-long special themed around the Good Friday Agreement, and said goodbye to Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle, and James (because being a Derry Girl is a state of mind).

In its four years and three series, the pupils of Our Lady Immaculate College managed to find humour by coupling the years of the Troubles to a coming-of-age drama while simultaneously explaining the political background to many who had no grasp of it. The final Derry Girls even included an argument when Michelle refused to condemn her brother, who had participated in a sectarian murder.

This is not normally the stuff of comedy.

Tommy Tiernan, who plays Gerry and is based in Galway, sees a portent in episode 19, saying: “What’s really exciting about Ireland, and the North in particular, is that it’s a restless culture. There’s always something bubbling away. 

That’s why, one day, there’ll be a united Ireland. Of course there will. Why? Because sure, we have to try it.

“We have to give it a go. It will happen eventually out of sheer restlessness. It’s the nature of the place.”

Channel 4 should be congratulated for a visionary decision to make and broadcast the work of writer Lisa McGee, which became the most-watched series in the North since records began 20 years ago, with an average viewership of 519,000 and a 64.2% audience share.

It was the antithesis of the verdict of the peerless Sr Michael, one of the great comic characters of the past 50 years, after virtue-signalling prefect Jenny Joyce staged a school show depicting the peace process.

Sr Michael’s judgement: “The conflict here has led to so many terrible atrocities. And now we must add your play to that list.”

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