Derry Girls

This week I'm going to write about the media we've been watching during lockdown. First off, Derry Girls, whose two series so far are set in the early and mid 1990s, and feature five girls (one of whom is actually a boy) attending a Catholic school run by nuns in Derry, at the tail end of the Troubles. It hit home very hard for me. I went to a Catholic school run by nuns, and I am about ten years older than the Derry Girls, but that moment in the mid 1990s was an important one for me – I moved back to Belfast after five years in Cambridge in 1991, two years later my English girlfriend moved there as well to marry me, and I was on the fringes of the peace process as a minor functionary of a smaller political party until I moved to Bosnia in early 1997.

Derry and Belfast coexist in somewhat dynamic tension – one of my best friends in Belfast married a Derry chap in 1994, and we get a strong sense of the relationship between the two cities every time we see them. (Yes, I know you two are reading this. Your children are reading this too.) So I had a slight prejudice going in of what's-so-special-about-Derry. But of course the best humour is universal, and the charm of the show is combining teenage angst with extraordinary circumstances – a bit like Buffy, but with fewer vampires and more British soldiers. In case you need convincing, here is a highlights reel from Season 2:

And the absolute best character of the series is Sister Michael, the headmistress of the school:

The moment that really ripped my heart out was the very last scene of Series 1, where the girls come out in support of Orla, whose presentation at the talent show is crashing and burning; meanwhile at home, Erin’s parents and Orla’s mother watch horrified as news comes of a major atrocity, and Grandpa Joe, who hates his son-in-law with a deep loathing, actually reaches out to him for mutual comfort as Dolores O’Riordan provides the soundtrack.

Twelve episodes of 45-50 minutes; it’s on Netflix, and I think for free elsewhere as well. Strongly recommended.

…what has already been described as one of the worst atrocities of the Northern Irish conflict. At least twelve people are thought to be dead, and many more wounded. Emergency services are urging anyone with medical training to come to the scene immediately. The device was detonated at 3pm this afternoon. The RUC said no warning was given.
(Images from

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