Derry Girls pull up at railway station

Derry Girls pull up at railway station

20 October 2021

HIT comedy series Derry Girls will take a journey on one of the Downpatrick and County Down Railway trains in the third series.

The cast and crew of the Channel 4 comedy show finished filming yesterday after five days at the heritage railway in Downpatrick.

It’s the biggest show to be filmed at the railway station which has proved to be a major location attraction for mostly period films, documentaries and television programmes.

It’s understood the show’s characters — Erin Quinn, Orla McCool, Clare Devlin, Michele Mallon and James Maguire — were using the railway’s 450 series trains formerly used by Northern Ireland Railways.

That particular train would have been in use running from Derry to Belfast in the post-conflict 1990s in which decade the show is set.

It’s the second time that Derry Girls, written by writer Lisa McGee, has filmed in the district.

Derry Girls used the interior of The Wee Shop in Ballyhornan in March, 2019.

In the series, Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney and comedian Tommy Tiernan who play Granda Joe and Da Gerry respectively, 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 in 2018.

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

While it’s not known what extra design work that the director may have called for in the train filming, but at Ballyhornan, old petrol pumps were put outside the shop, with vintage tractors and an ice-cone sign.

The story of St Patrick and the Mournes also recently attracted a visit from actor Siobhán McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael alongside the young students —actors Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn and Louisa Harland.

Robert Gardiner, chairman of Downpatrick and County Down Railway, said that he and the rest of the members were delighted that Derry Girls had chosen to use the railway.

“The show was meant to come last year but that had to be cancelled when filming had to stop due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We were not too sure if they would be interested in using us again but thankfully they have. While our trains and platforms have been used by other films and programmes, this is the biggest one for us.

“We are all big fans of the show and hope that this will showcase the train station and what we do to the world.”

Not only has the show become a national hit show, it drew millions of fans when it was streamed on Netflix.

Mr Gardiner added that the money which they would be paid for renting out the trains and station would help sustain their activities as much-needed income was lost during the pandemic closure and grant funds have come to an end.

The Downpatrick and County Down Railway is the only full-size heritage railway on the island of Ireland and the charity works to restore and run steam trains.