Comedy drama series Ballykissangel saw naive English priest Father Peter Clifford who is posted to the church of St Josephs in the idyllic Southern Ireland town of Ballykissangel (real life Avoca), at first he’s a real fish out of water learning the ways of the eccentric villagers and not least his immediate supervisor, the wily Father MacAnally (the brilliant Niall Tobin); Tony Doyle as the entrepreneurial town big wig Brian Quigley also has a major presence in the show as does Dervla Kirwan as Assumpta Fitzgerald, owner of the local bar – it’s actually the relationship that develops between herself and father Clifford that lies at the heart of the series, nothing is expressed in this first season but a meaningful glance goes a long way. The first three seasons concentrated on the relationship between Father Peter and Assumpta. Later when Assumpta died (after coming very close to having an affair with Father Peter) he left the village.
Season Four saw the arrival of new priest Father Aiden O’Connell (played by Don Wycherley) and his sexy sister Orla (Victoria Smurfit), of course Father Aiden is soon crossing swords with crotchety old Father MacAnally, meanwhile there is a recurring role for a certain Colin Farrell (long before he a became a major Hollywood player) as bad boy Danny Byrne. Finally Lorcan Cranitch arrives in town as Sean Dillon who keft BallyK years before to make his fortune and has now returned home, a widower with a 17 year old daughter, Emma.
The scheming Quigley (who likes to think he is the master of BallyK) ends up buying Fitzgeralds and has some ambitious plans for it, his daughter Niamh though is having trouble with with her marriage to local copper Ambrose.
While the departure of the two lead players ruffled a few feathers it doesn’t actually alter the dynamic of the series too much as its the ensemble playing of the whole cast and nicely quirky scripts that make the show such a joy.
For the final season in 2001 more changes were made, Brian Quigley had disappeared, apparently faking his suicide to cover his failing business dealings, this was to account for the fact of the death of the much missed Tony Doyle. New characters included Australian priest Father Vincent and stables manager Avril Burke. Avril was played by Susannah Doyle real life daughter of Tony. Colin Farrell also appeared briefly in the series.
UK / BBC One – World – Ballykea / 57×50 minute episodes 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 1996 – 15 April 2001
Creator: Kieran Prendiville / Music: Shaun Davey / Executive Producers: Robert Cooper, Tony Garnett
DERVLA KIRWAN as Assumpta Fitzgerald (-98)
STEPHEN TOMPKINSON as Father Peter Clifford (-98)
TONY DOYLE as Brian Quigley(-2000)
NIALL TOBIN as Father MacNally
TINA KELLEGHER as Niamh Egan
PETER HANLY as Ambrose Egan (Seasons 1-4)
LORCAN CRANITCH as Sean Dillon (98- )
VICTORIA SMURFIT as Orla(98-2000)
DON WYCHERLY as Father Aidan(98-2000)
KATE McENERY as Emma Dillon(98- )
COLIN J. FARRELL as Danny(98- )
JOE SAVINO as Liam
FRANKIE McCAFFERTY as Donal
DEIDRE DONNELLY as Siobhan
GARY WHELAN as Brendan
BIRDY SWEENEY as Eamon(-99)
PETER CAFFREY as Paidraig
BOSCO HOGAN as Dr Michael Ryan
AINE NI MHURI as Kathleen
JOHN CLEERE as Kevin
OWEN ROE as Paul Dooley (2000-2001)
MARION O’DWYER as Oonagh Dooley (2000-2001)
SUSANNAH DOYLE as Avril (2001)
ROBERT TAYLOR as Father Vincent (2001)