James Nesbitt’s Ireland
Published: Mon 18 Mar 2013
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing - in the public domain - until 26 March 2013 at 12.01am.
“Ireland is proud of its mystical and spiritual heritage. So if people talk about it being magical I know exactly what they mean.” James Nesbitt
James Nesbitt presents this brand new series on his native country Ireland, famed for its rugged volcanic landscapes, vast lakes, ancient traditions and the unique charm of the locals. Across eight episodes, James embarks on a thrilling adventure through the rich Irish landscape. He explores his homeland and personally guides viewers through Irish life, touching on its culture, history, people and visiting places close to his heart along the way.
Throughout the series James engages with Irish people from all walks of life, as he provides a fresh perspective on iconic landmarks such as the Giant’s Causeway and natural wonders like the Black Cliffs of Moher, as well as less well-known places of interest including the traditional seaweed baths at Strandhill.
In episode three, James explores the people and places at the heart of Ireland’s heritage. He begins by visiting the world famous Blarney stone at Blarney Castle. According to Irish folklore, anyone who kisses the stone receives the ability to speak with eloquence, or the gift of the gab.
James meets Sir Charles Colthurst, who lives in Blarney House and discovers that his great uncle was offered half a million pounds in the 1930’s by America, to rent the stone for 6 months and take it to the United States.
He also visits the poison garden in the grounds of the castle, which houses some of the most toxic plants on the planet. Head Gardener Adam explains that medieval gardens would have had something similar and they would have been grown by the supposed witches and wizards of the day.
James gets his hands dirty by helping Adam to prune an American Poison Ivy plant which can cause rashes, burning and blistering. He dons a fleece and protective gloves before attacking the plant with a pair of secateurs.
Back at the castle, James kisses the stone and meets Dennis, whose job it is to tip visitors upside down so they can reach the stone. He takes a turn at Dennis’s job and proclaims it to be the, “Best fun I’ve had in a while actually.”
We then visit a tourist attraction very close to James’ heart; Barry’s Amusements, Ireland’s largest theme park, in the seaside town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. James visited the park many times as a child and had one of his first jobs here, manning the big dipper. We catch up with Colim Qiunn who is in his 60th year of working at the park and remembers young Jimmy as the park clown.
We explore Ireland’s rich musical heritage and meet married couple and professional musicians, Zoe Conway and John McIntyre.
Zoe says: “I’ve toured with Riverdance for many years as the fiddle player, and played classical with orchestras and soloists with orchestras and played in Rock and Roll bands and with famous people like Lou Reed and Nick Cave and all kinds of amazing things.”
The couple has seen their fair share of fame, touring the world, performing for presidents and royalty and recording with famous artists. Now they’ve come back to their roots and are settling down to make music together and a life at home with their children.
James says: “It’s been an exciting journey through childhood memories, history and music, a few of the things that make Ireland such an enchanting place, but we’ve only just scratched the surface.”
Stunning, captivating and endlessly surprising, the series paints an intimate and charming portrait of a country famous the world over.