Glenroe

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Glenroe
RTÉ Glenroe original 1984 logo.jpg
The original Glenroe logo in a shot from the first episode (1983)
Genre Drama
Created by Wesley Burrowes
Starring Mick Lally, Joe Lynch, Mary McEvoy, Emmet Bergin, Geraldine Plunkett, Robert Carrickford
Opening theme "Cuaichín Ghleann Néifinn"
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 18
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel RTÉ One
Original run 11 September 1983  – 6 May 2001
Chronology
Preceded by Bracken
A sign on the road approaching Kilcoole

Glenroe was a television drama series broadcast on RTÉ One in Ireland between September 1983 and May 2001. A spin-off from Bracken — a short-lived RTÉ drama itself spun off from The RiordansGlenroe was broadcast, generally from September to May, each Sunday night at 8:30 p m. Created, and written for much of its run, by Wesley Burrowes, Glenroe was the first show to be subtitled by RTÉ, with a broadcast in 1991 starting the station's subtitling policy.[1]

Glenroe centred on the lives of the people living in the fictional rural village of the same name in County Wicklow. The real-life village of Kilcoole was used to film the series.[2]The main protagonists were the Byrne and McDermott/Moran families, related by the marriage of Miley Byrne to Biddy McDermott. Other important characters included Teasy McDaid, the proprietor of the local pub; Tim Devereux and George Black (the Roman Catholic priest and the Church of Ireland Rector of the village respectively); Fidelma Kelly, a cousin of Biddy; Blackie Connors; George Manning; Stephen Brennan; and various others.

RTÉ axed Glenroe in 2001.

Title sequence[edit]

Imagery[edit]

Glenroe was noted for its original title sequence, which featured the words "Gleann Rua" in Gaelic script morph into "Glenroe" over a series of rural images. The original title sequence was used for the 1983/84 series to the end of the 1992/93 series, and was replaced with a more up-to-date title sequence at the start of the 1993/94 series.

Theme tune[edit]

Glenroe's theme tune was that of a traditional Irish song called "Cuaichín Ghleann Néifinn" and was arranged by Jim Lockhart of Horslips. The original version was used from the 1983/84 to the end of the 1992/93 series. A newly recorded version, arranged by Máire Ní Bhraonáin of Clannad, was introduced with the start of the 1993/94 series, and the changes to the title sequence.

Setting and characters[edit]

The central focus of Glenroe is the fictional rural area of the programme's title, located south of Dublin in County Wicklow. The area is resplendent with rich and fertile farmland, used by the characters to sow their wild oats and make their living. A nearby pub, run by Teasy McDaid, is where the characters engage in alcohol-fuelled antics of a nocturnal nature. Mary McDermott-Moran lives in a posh house with Dick. Her daughter Biddy moves in with Miley Byrne, son of Dinny Byrne; these live in a less posh area. Miley and Biddy have two daughters who grow up throughout the series to be of school-going age but no more. They are not very old at all when their mother goes careering up into the air to her sudden death, flipping into the back of a tractor as she tries to release a stray teddy-bear, a gift for her children, from beneath the clutch of her soon-to-be destroyed little car. Before this, when her mother is still alive, one of the daughters survives a scary stay in hospital, where her life is threatened, but she recovers and in the end outlives her mother.

The programme focuses on a cast of characters living in a rural area near the village pub. The main characters are Miley Byrne and Biddy McDermott whose courtship and marriage form the centerpiece of the action during the early years. Their parents also feature heavily in the storylines. Miley's father Dinny Byrne is a chancer and Biddy's mother, who has been widowed early in the series, conducts a long-running relationship with Dick Moran, the local solicitor. Dick occasionally had other affairs such as that with Terry Kileen.

Glenroe's Miley & Dinny in the 1980s.jpg RTÉ Glenroe Mary McDermott-Moran 1984.jpg
A screenshot of Miley (left) and Dinny (right) in 1983 Mary McDermott-Moran in 1983
Character Actor Character Duration
Dinny Byrne Joe Lynch 1983–2000
Miley Byrne Mick Lally 1983–2001
Biddy Byrne Mary McEvoy 1983–2000
Dick Moran Emmet Bergin 1983–2001
Mary McDermott-Moran Geraldine Plunkett 1983–2001
Stephen Brennan Robert Carrickford
Father Tim Devereux Donall Farmer
Teasy McDaid Maureen Toal
Mary-Ann Byrne Grace Barry 1990-2001
George Manning Alan Stanford
Michelle Haughey Isobel Mahon
Blackie Connors Liam Heffernan
Sergeant Roche Paul Bennett
Fidelma Kelly Eunice MacMenamin 1995-?
Joseph Timlin John-Paul McGarry
Aileen Synnot Laura Howard
Nuala Brennan née Maher Carmel Callan
Kevin Haughey Liam Carney
Sylvie Dolan David Kelly
Uncle Peter Cyril Cusack
Dr. David Hanlon Mario Rosenstock
Terry Kileen Kate Thompson
Rev. George Black Enda Oates
Dan Reilly Joe McKinney 1998–2001
Catherine Daly Louise Kerr
Conor Sheehy Timothy Murphy
Fiona March Black Lucy Vigne-Welch
Bernadette Timlin Barbara Griffin
Mynah Eileen Colgan

Realism[edit]

Religion was featured in the programme on numerous occasions. When Miley, a devout Roman Catholic, believed his daughter, who had been critically ill with meningitis, was saved by prayer and divine intervention while Biddy, who rarely went to Mass credited their doctor with her recovery. The parish priest, Father Tim Devereaux, was upset that nobody was listening to his pastoral advice and retired to embark on a round-the-world cruise with Shirley Manning, a widow of Protestant and Jewish ancestry. One episode focused on how much money should be spent on a girl's First Communion dress.

In the fourteenth season, Tommy McArdle, the show's producer, introduced the travellers issue, frequently in the news at the time. The storyline involved Miley and Biddy trying to evict a family of travellers who parked their trailer on the edge of the farm. The episodes depicted the attitudes of some Irish people who believed that travellers were "stupid, dirty and dishonest". When two pet rabbits disappear the community suspects the travellers must have eaten them in a stew. Another storyline involved an extramarital affair between a traveller and an upper-middle-class local woman.[3]

The final episode of the penultimate series saw the death of main character Biddy in a road accident involving her car and a tractor. The final series dealt largely with husband Miley's coming to terms with the loss of his wife and the struggles he faced in raising their two surviving daughters.[4]

Cancellation[edit]

Biddy was killed off when she refused to continue participating in Glenroe.

On 19 January 2001, despite claims four years previously that it could run for another ten years,[5] RTÉ announced that Glenroe was to end after eighteen series.[6] The final episode of the Irish soap was to be broadcast the following May. The then RTÉ Director of Television Cathal Goan said it had been clear for some time that Glenroe was "coming to the end of its natural life".[7] This announcement came after a sequence of negative events involving cast members. Mary McEvoy (Biddy) resigned (her character was subsequently killed off in a road accident), Joe Lynch (Dinny) quit after being "shamefully treated" and offered "small potatoes" when he asked for a pay rise and Mick Lally opted to split his schedule between RTÉ and the BBC show, Ballykissangel.[8] Lynch criticised RTÉ for preventing him from doing other acting work alongside Glenroe.

``I was terrible restricted in RTÉ they wouldn't let me off for anything, even commercials.``

He was also upset that he was not to get a pension but died soon afterwards.[9]

The last episode of Glenroe was transmitted on 6 May 2001, attracting an audience of 591,000 viewers.[10] Its place in the Sunday evening schedule was taken by On Home Ground, a drama series set at a fictional rural GAA club, which ran for two seasons from September 2001 until May 2003. Geraldine Plunkett also starred in the first 2 seasons of The Clinic, which ran for 7 seasons also on Sunday nights. Actor Mick Lally went on to join the cast of the TG4 drama series Ros na Rún in 2008.[11]

Spin-offs and merchandise[edit]

There was excitement in Dundalk on 24 December 1989 when the episode screened that evening featured two couples from the area who had won a prize from the People in Need Telethon to appear on the show.[12] Brenda Fricker was in that episode.[12] There was also lots of excitement concerning the famous hurling match between Cork and Kilkenny, played in 1984 at Pairc Liam Mc Carthy in Ballygarvan, County Cork. This match featured in the show when Miley travelled down to Cork to attend. He was asked at the last minute to throw in the sliotar at the start of the game.

A song from the series, "The By-road to Glenroe", performed in-character by Mick Lally, was released as a single in Ireland in 1990, featuring the Jim Lockhart version of the theme tune as its B-side, and reached number 1 in the Irish Singles Chart.

Popularity and viewership[edit]

Ratings[edit]

Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewer
Rank (#)
Viewers
(in '000)
Season 15 September, 1997 May, 1998 1997–1998 #2[13] 662[13]
Season 16 September, 1998 May, 1999 1998–1999 #3 638[13]
Season 17 September, 1999 May, 2000 1999–2000 #3 635[13]
Season 18 September, 2000 May, 2001 2000–2001 #2 589[13]
  • The series final episode attracted 591,000 viewers on Sunday 6 May 2001.[14] At its height Glenroe achieved nearly one million viewers, during the 1990s it often had 700,000 viewers.

Scheduling[edit]

Original broadcast[edit]

RTÉ One. Sundays. 8:30 p m.

International broadcasts[edit]

The show was also successful outside Ireland, although Glenroe was not networked, 13 of the 14 ITV regions had transmitted the series in the United Kingdom. After this point listings (which have been sourced from The Times Digital Archive) are no longer available.

  • In December 1995, as part of a soap opera-themed weekend, Channel 4 broadcast an episode of Glenroe.
  • During the late 1990s Glenroe was also shown on the Tara Television network in the United Kingdom via cable and SkyDigital from 1997 to the closure of the station in 2002. Classic episodes were shown in the daytime and repeated in the early evenings on weekdays, and current episodes were simulcast with RTÉ on Sunday evenings during each season. Tara had reached the 1992/93 season of Glenroe at the time of the station's closure.
ITV Region
Programme Schedule Pattern
Start Date
Days Screened
End Date
Replaced With
Anglia Television Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984.  ???  ???
Border Television Monday 4 June 1984 15.30 Mondays and Tuesdays 15.30 from Monday 4 June 1984. Wednesdays 12.30 from September 1985 to 19 March 1986. 19 March 1986  ???
Central Never transmitted Never transmitted Never transmitted Never transmitted
Channel Television as TSW as TSW  ???  ???
Grampian Television Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984 22 August 1984  ???
Granada Television Monday 4 June 1984 15.30 Mondays and Tuesdays 15.30 from Monday 4 June 1984. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 12.30 from Tuesday 9 July 1985.  ???  ???
HTV Wales and HTV West Monday 4 June 1984 15.30 Mondays and Tuesdays 15.30 from Monday 4 June 1984.  ???  ???
Scottish Television (STV) Monday 4 June 1984 15.30 Mondays and Tuesdays 15.30 from Monday 4 June 1984. 24 part series. 21 August 1984  ???
Television South (TVS) Thursday 7 June 1984 Thursdays 14.00 from Thursday 7 June 1984. Fridays 15.30 from September 1985.  ???  ???
Television South West (TSW) Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 12.30 from Tuesday 9 July 1985.  ???  ???
Thames Television Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984.  ???  ???
Tyne Tees Television Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 12.30 from Tuesday 9 July 1985.  ???  ???
Ulster Television (UTV) Tuesday 3 July 1984 13.30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays 13.30 from Tuesday 3 July 1984. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 12.30 from Tuesday 9 July 1985. UTV then began a re-run of the series from the beginning in a daytime slot in 1989, before moving to 18.30 slot during 1990-92. By the late 1990s, the series was shown on Thursdays 19.30 on a sporadic basis. 2001 (had reached 1994 episodes) Other regional programmes
Yorkshire Television (YTV) Monday 4 June 1984 15.30 Mondays and Tuesdays 15.30 from Monday 4 June 1984.  ???  ???

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About/Facts English". RTÉ. 
  2. ^ http://www.independent.ie/woman/celeb-news/a-tale-of-two-soaps-26100188.html
  3. ^ Clarity, James F. (1997-04-01). "When Dirty Laundry Shows, Use Tougher Soaps". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  4. ^ Breslin, John (2000-09-10). "GLENROE'S BIDDY PROVES THERE'S LIFE AFTER SOAP; RTÉ star Mary goes". BNET. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  5. ^ White, Declan (1997-10-05). "Chips are down for spud soap Glenroe". BNET. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  6. ^ "Irish soap Glenroe axed". BBC News (BBC). 2001-01-19. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  7. ^ "Glenroe to end after 18 years". RTÉ. 2001-01-19. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  8. ^ "`Small potatoes' forced Dinny to quit Glenroe". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 2000-05-26. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  9. ^ "Glenroe star dies suddenly". The Irish News. 2001-08-03. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Glenroe legend joins Ros na Rún". RTÉ. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  12. ^ a b "Episodes of 'Glenroe' had extra local appeal". The Argus. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Monthly Review". Medialive.ie. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  14. ^ "May 2001 - ROI TV Review". Medialive.ie. 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2010-04-07.