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18th May 2022

An ode to Derry Girls

Ellen Fitzpatrick

l-r: James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Jackson), Orla McCool (Louisa Harland), Clare Devlin (NIcola Coughlan),

Oh, Derry Girls. What an era it’s been.

When Derry Girls first aired back in 2018, it was nothing we’d ever seen before on television. Showing something normal amidst times of immense struggle in Ireland on a British broadcaster was unheard of.

It was the second last episode of the series that included the famous Oscar Wilde quote: “The problem is the English can’t remember history, while the Irish can’t forget it.”

Over three seasons of a whole lot of laughs and some truly heartbreaking moments, we got to see what life was like at the end of the troubles through the eyes of completely innocent children, mind you in a more outrageous way than most people’s day to day at the time.

For Irish people watching this show, it meant so much more than simply seeing other Irish people being genuinely hilarious, people were learning about our history that they never would have known otherwise.

Lisa McGee, for three seasons, balanced this show incredibly. While it’s easy for us in the Republic to relate to the show, and even some in Britain to relate, the show was so unique to those in the North. It meant something so different, something we’ll likely never see again on TV.

Saying goodbye to the gang last night was a tough one. While it is only a TV show at the end of the day, it was something we never wanted to end.

Leaving us on a seriously emotional ending, our hearts just broke. After decades of the Troubles, the girls (and James) living their teenage years with so much turbulence, it was something utterly different that had us shellshocked.

The ending of the show reminded us exactly what the show was about, normal people living their lives. While each character was hysterical, they went through all of the normal things we all face, and that’s what we all clung to with this series.

While only some watching the show now actually remember the Troubles, it was the normal way of Irish living that made it stand out to us.

I was born a year before the Good Friday Agreement, something I definitely don’t remember. But the way Granda Joe goes on, I can see my own Grandad in him. When Ma Mary is sick of the girls’ constant nagging, my mam reacts the same way.

I remember the scene with Michelle and Mary and the bowl, we all had that in our own families. I went to an all-girls Catholic school, and while there was only one nun still teaching, the place was eerily similar.

We all have the one whacky relative like Aunt Sarah, an unpredictable but lovable group of friends and most of us have the wee English cousin.

Their lives were like any other family in Ireland, it showed us how connected we are as a country, that no matter what we’re not all that different, even after nearly 30 years.

This show was a piece of television that I truly adored, and something I will watch over and over again. It’s something so unique and one of a kind, something us fans will certainly keep in our hearts for a long time to come.