This post is your primer for the series of posts that follow: The Adventures of E on Inishmore During Ted Fest 2010. Ted fan? Enjoy the memories. Not yet a friend of Ted? Hold on to your arse biscuits, because you’re in for a treat.
Father Ted, written by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, is the quintessential Irish sitcom. It ran on the UK’s Channel Four from 1995 through 1998. It followed the adventures of three Irish priests – Father Ted, a thief; Father Dougal, a simpleton; and Father Jack, a drunken sociopath – who were exiled by the Church to “Craggy Island,” a fictional island off the West Coast of Ireland. They lived in a run-down parochial house with their tea-pushing housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, and struggled with other priests, cranky Bishop Len Brennan, and their own human vices.
The show explored human nature, Irish stereotypes, as well as the decline of the Church’s grip on Ireland. The day after Father Ted finished filming its last episode, its star, Dermot Morgan, died of a heart attack. Inishmore, the largest of the Irish West Coast’s Aran Islands, now bills itself as “The Real Craggy Island” and has, since 2007, held a Ted Fest in honor of Dermot Morgan. Residents and fest guests dress like characters from the show and participate in Father Ted episode-inspired events, like The Priests vs. Nuns Beach Volleyball Tournament, Hide a Nun and Seek, a Football Match, The Loveliest Horse Competition, and much more. Which I’ll be sure to tell you all about as I experience them here on the island.
And now, to get you nice and worked up for the following series of Ted Fest-on-Inishmore posts, a few classic Ted moments:
My Lovely Horse, in “Song for Europe.”
Father Ted and Father Dougal are bullied by Ted’s rival, Father Dick Byrne, to write a song and enter the Eurosong ’96 competition. They decide to write a song about a lovely horse, but when the Fathers realize they have no musical talent, they steal a tune from a Swedish band whose members are all dead. On the night they decide to steal the song, both Father Ted and Father Dougal dream of the music video they are sure the song will spawn:
“Feck off, cup!” from “Good Luck, Father Ted.”
Actually, my favorite Mrs. Doyle moment involves her pushing cake rather than tea – “Oh, gowan, Father. There’s cocaine in them!” – but I couldn’t find the youtube clip. This one does the trick, a’right.
A Forfeit for Father Ted in “Escape from Victory.”
Father Ted and Father Dick Byrne place bets on the annual All-Priests Over-75’s Five-a-Side Football Championship. Ted cheats for his team to win and when Father Dick Byrne finds out, he gives him “a very special forfeit for being such a cheating bastard”:
Unfortunately, there’s no clip from the next episode of the amazing forfeit itself, but here is a clip from when Father Ted discovers his task:
Religious Conversations in “Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest.”
Father Jack drinks floor polish and, to all appearances, dies. In his will he states that he wants someone to hold vigil over his body for 24 hours, so deep is his fear of being buried alive. Father Ted and Father Dougal are charged with the task.
And, then, the show’s iconic opening theme:
This is what I saw yesterday as I rode the 6-passenger plane from Connemara Airport to Inishmore – sitting next to the pilot, watching the rain bead up against the windows. You don’t know how I suffered holding myself back from humming the song.