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Summary

All eight series of the comedy drama series set in a Donegal town in the 1950s and '60s.

Ireland in the '50s, and the days of mass tourism and indoor plumbing have not yet come to rural Co. Donegal. But in the small, sleepy town of Ballylenon, change is coming, and trouble is brewing. 

A power struggle is under way for control of the town, with two rival forces aligned against each other. Seeking to rule the roost are hotel owner and undertaker Phonsie Doherty and his allies, sisters Muriel and Vera McConkey. These two formidable ladies are in charge of the corner shop/Post Office and Telephone Exchange and are known as the eyes and ears of Ballylenon - while the voice is provided by local newspaper The Vindicator.

Between them, they seem to have the means of communication sewn up - but the opposing faction, led by primary teacher Vivienne Boal, the Reverend Samuel Hawthorne and Police Officer Guard Gallagher, are determined to have their say. A supporter of cultural causes, such as music festivals and architectural conservation, Vivienne is bright, breezy and apparently straightforward - but she manages to achieve certain aims by devious means.... 

The antagonism between the two camps is thinly veiled - and the causes for dissension range from a proposal to demolish the Georgian courthouse to build a car park, to arguments over a ramshackle cottage that may have belonged to the family of US president Herbert Hoover. But as the '60s dawn, the town faces a threat that unites the whole community in moral outrage: the arrival of television. 

Christopher Fitz-Simon's playful yet cynical look at Irish village life stars TP McKenna, Gerard Murphy, Margaret D'Arcy and Stella McCusker.

Production credits

Written by Christopher Fitz-Simon

Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan (Series 1-5, 7, 8) and Peter Kavanagh (Series 6)

Music arranged and performed by Stephanie Hughes

Pianist: Michael Harrison

First broadcast BBC Radio 4: 8th June-13th July 1994 (Series 1), 18th July-8th August 1995 (Series 2), 4th-25th June 1996 (Series 3), 3rd-24nd December 1997 (Series 4), 15th June-20th July 1998 (Series 5), 18th June-23rd July 1999 (Series 6), 25th November 2009-6th January 2010 (Series 7), 26th January-2nd March 2011 (Series 8)

Cast

Phonsie Doherty - TP McKenna/Gerard Murphy

Muriel McConkey - Margaret D'Arcy

Vera McConkey - Stella McCusker

Vivienne Boal/Mrs McFinney - Aine McCartney

Guard Gallagher - John Hewitt/Frankie McCafferty

Reverend Samuel Hawthorne - Gerard Murphy/Miche Doherty/Dermot Crowley

RL Watson - Roma Tomelty

O'Brollochain/Joe MacMonagle/Canon Friel - Kevin Flood

Kevin 'Stumpy' Bonnar - Gerard McSorley

Eithne Ni Phartalain/Primrose Ffrench O'Dowd/Sister Gabriel - Marcella Riordan

Aubrey Frawley - Dominic Letts/Matthew Addis/Chris McHallem

Peg Sweeney - Anna Manahan/Marcella Riordan

Post Office engineer - Robert Patterson

Jonathan Ffrench O'Dowd - Wesley Murphy

Packy McGoldrick - Charlie Bonnar/Tim Loane

Josie Doherty - Ciara McKeown/Cathy White/Ali White

Mr Mawhinney - Harry Towb

Father O'Flatley - John Guiney

Bohunkus Smith - BJ Hogg

Terry Black - Mark Lambert

Consuela Dooley - Cathy Belton

Daniel O'Searcaigh - James Greene

Monsignor McFadden - Niall Cusack

Polly Acton - Joanna Munro

Eamonn Doyle - Patrick Fitzsymons

Mr Boylan - Derek Bailey

With Ruairi McAteer, Catriona O'Reilly, Danielle Costigan and Fabio Aprile.

©2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2020 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"Christopher Fitz-Simon's writing is a delicious mix of gentle and sharp, vividly bringing to life the rhythms of speech and social interaction in this Irish village setting." (The Guardian)

What listeners say about Ballylenon: The Complete Series 1-8

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Gentle humour from the other end of the ferry

Co Donegal 1953-60. Before the most recent Troubles and when I was a wee girl. More happens in this fictional wee town than you’d suspect. None of it is nasty but I got hooked on the intrigues and gossip. Two sisters run the shop/post office/telephone exchange so they’re an intelligence service in themselves, allied with the hotel owner, who’s always got a scheme in mind. The Protestant primary school teacher, later the minister’s wife, has different ideas about how the town should develop. Almost everyone is up to something- the minister and the policeman alone are innocents. I like the language, not so different from Ayrshire then. There is an issue about continuity occas

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Made me laugh

So well written, human nature to a T! Made me laugh a lot just a shame you don’t find out what happens between the sisters & their men left on a bit of a hanger I assume another series was planned but didn’t actually happen - such a shame!

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