Thursday, February 22, 2007

West Coast Shenanigans over Craggy Island

Only in Ireland!

It’s a story that nearly made it into a pervious AiB post, only that I never quite got around to writing it.

Given that Father Ted wasn’t filmed in County Galway, it seems ludicrous that any of the Aran Islands would seek to identify themselves with the fictional Craggy Island. But nevertheless there’s been a standoff between Inis Mor (hosting the Friends of Ted event this weekend) and neighbouring Inis Oirr as to which can rightly claim to be Craggy Island.

(Inis Oirr have a reasonable claim given that they appear in the opening title sequence of the series.)

Both islands have a lot to gain from the association with the Channel 4 TV series featuring three eccentric, lovable priests. There’s the tourist euros to be gained from visitors to Ireland’s west coast, along with the opportunity to heckle the other island which will have to assume the mantle of Rugged Island, home to Father Dick Byrne. Father Ted neatly summed up his opposite number: “As priests go ... he’s a really bad priest”.

“And it came to pass that the four Friends travelled hither and fro in their search for Craggy Island. But when their eyes did light upon the rocky shores of Inis Mor, they knew that their search was at an end. And it was there that Father Delaney proclaimed that the last weekend of February would forever be called Friends of Ted. And the friends saw that it was good.”

It’ll be like a Star Trek convention, only smaller. The festival website notes that:

“due to the size of the island and its venues, tickets are strictly limited to 100 for the weekend.”

But what’ll they get up to?

“For the pilgrims there will be celebration and there will be drink (and tea). As Brethren we will break bread (and cake) together, play Ludo and Buckaroo; quiz each other, steal whistles and write Inis Mor's Song for Europe. We will consume Toilet Duck, laugh, cry and play five-a-side football. And when it is over we will return to our parishes somewhat lighter of pocket, but all the wealthier in heart.”

Not to forget the most important part of the weekend. Inis Mor and Inis Oirr need to decide which can best represent Craggy Island. In a typically random way, the matter will be decided by a five-a-side football match between the two islands that echoes the All-Priests Five-a-Side Over-75s Indoor Challenge Football Match from one of the show’s episodes. Kick off at 3pm on Sunday 25 February.

Paddy Power Bookmakers are even taking bets on the outcome of the match. Where there’s money to be thrown away, you’ll always find a willing bookmaker. Maybe Eastwoods' will join in too!

The odds may soon change with the news that two of Ireland’s World Cup stars (John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino, last played internationally in the 1990s, but don’t expect AiB to win Best Sports Blog at the Irish Blog Awards any year soon!) have signed up for the weekend and will be playing in the match.

“Friends of Ted is a not-for-profit body established to organise an annual celebration of the TV series, on the weekend closest to the anniversary of Dermot Morgan's passing. As well as allowing followers to play hide and seek, the event aims to raise money for good and appropriate causes, while demonstrating that there is no finer place in all the world to be at the end of February than off the west coast of Ireland.”

Lunacy. But harmless and fun!

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