Derry Girls fun in Ballyhornan

Derry Girls fun in Ballyhornan

13 March 2019

THE hit comedy series Derry Girls is putting Ballyhornan on the map.

The Wee Shop in the small coastal village will be featured in one of the upcoming storylines of the much-anticipated second series.

Viewers will see Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney and comedian Tommy Tiernan as Granda Joe and Da Gerry go off on some undisclosed caper in Burt, Co Donegal.

Part of the newsagent’s shop and cafe was transformed into a grungy taxi office for two days of filming which took place at the end of last October. 

The Cable Bar, which is just feet away from the shop, is also featured in the scene.

With old petrol pumps outside the shop, vintage tractors and an ice-cone sign, the Wee Shop looked authentic for the filming and should spark nostalgia for viewers of Donegal holidays for years past.

The five young teens which star in the surprise Netflix hit set in 1990s Derry — actors Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn and Louisa Harland — were not involved in the filming.

Channel 4’s Derry Girls, written by Lisa McGee, attracted an average two million audience per episode for its first series last year. Its inclusion on Netflix last December has now made it into a global success.

Brendan Magennis, owner of The Wee Store, has retained the show set as faithfully as he could post-filming and hopes that it will help put Ballyhornan on the tourist trail — just as Game of Thrones did for Castleward. 

“I don’t know when the programme will be broadcast but I know that The Wee Shop as the Roscarna Cars taxi office will be featured in a seven-and-a-half minute scene in this series,” he said.

“Everybody from Ballyhornan will be glued to their sets to see the shop and Ballyhornan in the programme. I don’t know when it will be on as the producers didn’t tell me and I really wasn’t allowed to say anything public about it until now.

“But once the word got out that they will filming here in October, everybody suddenly lived in Ballyhornan in an effort to try to get down to get a look. The place was absolutely packed out with cars.”

Brendan is a relative newcomer to Ballyhornan but is evangelical about the beauty of the beach and its potential to attract more visitors. 

He took over the shop last May and calls it the CSI shop, so-called after the coffee, slushie/snacks and ice-cream it serves.

“I’m obviously hoping that when people see the Wee Shop on the programme, they will come out to visit it,” said Brendan.

“In fact, I have already had some families call in for a coffee or ice-cream and then to get their pictures taken here as a momento.

“But I think that the Derry Girls connection will really help put Ballyhornan on the map as the beach and walk are gorgeous and I hope that others can see that for themselves.” 

He described how the programme’s art department changed what was a neutral space into something that looked totally authentic.

“I had plans to do up that half of the shop anyway so it was just a matter of delaying that. They came in and created a stud wall and painted the walls brown on the bottom and cream on the top and then distressed it to make it look as it had years of smoke on it.

“With the various props and bits and pieces, it really looked the part,” he added.

Brendan revealed that it was pure fate that led to the producers to ask to film there.

He also insisted that the programme retained the shop’s name.

“A couple of guys were just out and about scouting around and thought that my shop was just what they were after for that scene,” he explained.

“When they came in to discuss the matter, it turned out that one of the worked for me when I was a bar manager years ago up north.

“They reimbursed me for two days of business and I felt that was fine because I’m hoping that there may be a spin-off for me with new customers once the programme airs.”

• Episode three of Derry Girls airs on Tuesday at 9.15pm on Channel 4.