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Folk, fables and foibles the guidebook forgot to mention
  • Fergus Manor

2. Go on, go on, go on...

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

What have Arthur Guinness, U2 and Richard Harris got in common? No idea? What if I add JFK and James Joyce into the mix .... that’s a brewer, a band, an actor, a politician and a writer. Still stumped?

The answer is, as all philatelists will know, they are part of a small group of people who have appeared on Irish stamps more than once; they also have no obvious connection to Ennis and County Clare.

Not quite true as far as JFK is concerned for he left Ireland in 1963 from Shannon Airport and, it now appears, one of his great-grandparents, James Hickey, was born a stone’s throw away at Newcastle-on-Fergus. Yes, that’s the same river Fergus that runs alongside the back garden at Ardilaun.

That said, Eamon de Valera, who has appeared four times on Irish stamps, was the MP (TD in Ireland) for East Clare before he became President and Ennis is where you’ll find the car, a black and chrome Dodge, he was driven around in (see ‘In and around Ennis’).

Also claiming a single stamp representation are County Clare writer Edna O’Brien who hails from Tuamgraney near Scariff and Clare visitor, Che Guevara ... more on when Che’s passed this way next time.

But Clare’s representation on Irish stamps has just taken a mighty leap forward with the literary wisecracks of Clare’s most famous fictitious residents having just been immortalised in four stamps commemorating the 25th anniversary of the TV series, Father Ted.

The oft-repeated and memorable sayings depicted on the stamps are from the mouths of Mrs Doyle, Father Jack, Father Dougal and Father Ted himself:

Will you have a cup of tea, Father? (Mrs Doyle)

That would be an ecumenical matter. (Father Jack)

That’s mad, Ted. (Father Dougal)

That money was just resting in my account. (Father Ted)

And the retro wallpaper, that is the background of each stamp, matches the different rooms in the Craggy Island Parochial House (see ‘There and back in a day’ for details of a trip to Inisheer, the fictional Craggy Island of Father Ted and friends).

Now, if you’re from the Planet Zog and have never heard of Father Ted, well that’s almost like never having heard of James Bond, and something that needs to be rectified. In normal circumstances, there’s no better way of becoming Father Ted-savvy than by taking a Father Ted tour of Clare ( but, as this year’s tours have been cancelled, you’ll have to come back next year.

In the meantime, you can buy the boxed set (25 episodes) online and, when you become a Father Ted aficionado, suddenly the four phrases above will seem much funnier than when you first read them.

Or, as housekeeper-from-hell Mrs Doyle would say, ‘Go on, go on, go on ...’

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