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Shameless Mrs Doyle sheds Father Ted for good



Date Published: {J}

There are many incongruous sights in life – but Mrs Doyle semi-naked in what’s left of her underwear and prostrate in front of the fireplace was, frankly, one we could have done without.

But if Galway’s own Pauline McLynn wanted to ensure she would no longer be typecast as Ted Crilly’s teamaker, she went the right way about it for her introduction to Shameless, which made its way back onto Channel 4’s screens this month with what might only be described as a bang.

Gone are the days of the two tea-cosies – one for the teapot and one on her head – because these days Mrs Doyle has morphed into Libby the librarian with the libido of a letch, a woman who has sunk so low that she’s fallen for the questionable charms of Frank Gallagher, the world’s number one waster.

Frank, a man with the hair of a wino and the breath to match, was lounging about as a lollipop man when he saved our Libby from certain death – and now the former housekeeper from Father Ted has fallen for him hook, line and sinker.

They make a rather unusual couple but then again life rarely follows a script on the Chatsworth estate and while Libby arrives on screen as the quintessential librarian – grey suit, hair in a bun, glasses – we quickly discover a passionate woman, literally, fighting to get out.

Libby suffers from narcolepsy, which causes her to suddenly fall asleep – usually in moments of high excitement. Nobody told Frank of course and, unable to control himself when she seduces him against the fireplace before she passes out, he first thinks he’s killed her before he discovers the facts.

It’s pure Shameless, a programme that may to too crude for many but the rest of us regard it as perhaps the best entertainment on the box.

This is the seventh series – which, in these recessionary times, tells its own story – set on a Council estate that you wouldn’t even slow down to look at in real life.

Frank’s the biggest layabout of the lot, father of nine but more heavily reliant on his youngest son Liam, who also happens to be a child prodigy.

The Gallaghers are the comic element and the Maguires provide the whiff of cordite; they’re the criminals, the racketeers, the drug dealers, the guns for hire – and naturally they’re Irish too.

All of their lives revolve around the Jockey, the local

pub that makes Iraq look like a nuns’ convent.

Disfunctionality would be the buzz word around the Chatsworth estate if only any of them could spell – but Shameless is solid gold television that perhaps shouldn’t work, given the madness of the characters. But it does.


When it comes to work, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s all there is for Charlie Bird these days – his two part special, Charlie Bird’s American Year, was a painfully honest look at the reality of life when you move to take on a new challenge in a new city.

There are those who see Charlie as a figure of fun; a sort of yapping puppy who’ll bounce back no matter how often you push him away.

Whatever about the canine analogy, he was definitely a big fish in a small pond when he plied his trade on this side of the Atlantic – but it’s a different story in the big ocean that’s Washington DC.

His passion for the story is obvious from the start but it’s his loneliness that gets you – a man facing 60 who has finally landed the job that he had coveted for so long. And then he finds that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was a mirage after all.

Sure – he gets to Guantanamo, meets Hillary Clinton, gets into the White House to shout at Obama on Paddy’s Day, but it’s the down times, the beer all alone in a crowded bar, the searching for something to do in an empty apartment. That’s what shows the honesty.

And Charlie doesn’t beat around the bush either; he’s lonely and cannot acclimatise to being just another reporter in a strange town when he was once the one whose name they called through the barricades outside Leinster House.

Perhaps it’s the sheer scale of the travel involved in the post, but hard work has never been a problem for the former Chief Correspondent. And his natural curiosity always shines through – whether it’s refugees on the Mexican border or the US Secretary of State.

In many ways, this two-parter has provided more of an insight into American life and current affairs than all of his news reports to date, because it captures many of the strands that make it work – the zero tolerance Sherriff, the gun enthusiasts who will do what it takes to defend their families … it’s all there.

And yet overshadowing all of that is a lonely man who longs for the streets where everybody knows his name. Sometimes, it seems, you should be careful what you wish for.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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