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An Railí - BBC 2 NI - Starting 9pm - Sat 22 Jan 11

Posted: January 20, 2011 12:06 PM - 4510 Hits

An Railí is a two part Irish Language documentary series which gets under the skin of the long standing International event, the Donegal Rally.

An Railí

Posted: January 20, 2011 12:06 PM

An Railí is a two part Irish Language documentary series which gets under the skin of the long standing International event, the Donegal Rally.

Starting on Saturday, January 22 on BBC Two NI at 9pm, it follows the journey of the Rally from start to finish through the eyes of the drivers, organisers, volunteers and fans.

The first programme in this series meets the drivers and uncovers the mammoth effort involved in taking part in this event. Financial commitment, mechanical expertise, and endless man hours are given by rally addicts consumed by their sport. We meet the organisers, volunteers, wives and fans and see how so many different facets of Donegal are affected by this major annual event.

In 2010, the rally was started by rally fanatic Phil Coulter, who used to race himself:
“Initially my fascination with the whole rallying thing came when I was supporting Cahal [Curley] and spectating at events at the Circuit of Ireland or Donegal and I thought, I want to have a shot at this. I did it for about five to six years and my favourite event of all was Donegal. Donegal has come to the fore in recent years and is more popular than ever. It only confirms what we always knew, that Donegal was the best rally in the country.”

In this programme we are introduced to Eugene Ferry, a rally driver and native of Gaoth Dobhair, Eugene has been rallying all his life. Surrounded by his family and friends, team Ferry puts its heart and soul into competing in the Donegal Rally.

We also meet Toni Kelly, a young Letterkenny based rally driver, who has been interested in rallying ever since she could walk. Her father noticed her talents early on and Toni became one of the youngest ever female drivers to compete in the Donegal Rally. Now working as a car salesperson, it is difficult for Toni to raise sponsorship to compete in current times.

An Railí also speaks to those affected by the rally. One of the wives, Natasha Nic Garbheith is a former Miss Ireland and wife of business man and rally driver, PJ McDermott. Natasha is not a huge fan of motor sport; although she does everything she can to support her husband. She says:
“I worry when PJ is out rallying, especially after his accident two years ago in Knockalla. It’s a dangerous sport, very fast. I know the cars are very strong but until he’s back home safe and sound, my heart’s in my mouth”

In the second of this two part series the rally arrives and it is time to see if all the effort, time and money has been worth it. It follows the journey of the main characters which also include Terence Diver, a part time driver and full time rally fanatic and Eamonn McGee, Chief Safety Marshal, a man crucial to the organisation of the Rally and rally fan, Pól Breslin.

The programme also features the cancellation of the rally in its later stages due to an accident during the competition in which co-driver Thomas Maguire was killed and uncovers how this close knit community dealt with the tragedy.

Producer Gráinne McGuinness talks about the motivation behind making a series like this:
“I wanted to understand why people put so much time, energy and financial commitment into such a dangerous sport. The winner receives a glass bowl; surely this could not be the sole motivation? Through making these programmes I have discovered that rallying, quite simply, is an addiction, and that rally addicts the world over want to compete in the Donegal event.”

Co-producer Gavin Halpin said:
“As a student I used to work as a barman during the Donegal Rally, so I had a fair idea of how mad things could get after hours. What I really wanted to find out though, was what made people so dedicated to the sport itself. The experience of making this documentary gave us a glimpse at the excitement, craic and pure adrenalin that comes with following an event like this, and I think the films paint a true picture of just how passionate people all over Ireland are about the Donegal Rally.”

Director, Sonia Nic Giolla Easbuig says,
"It was great to get an opportunity to direct these documentaries that show not only the Rally in progress, focusing on participants, families and organisers, but also getting a chance to showcase the beautiful scenery of Donegal. These programmes are gripping from beginning to end. We go from the hay bales being delivered to carburettors and gear boxes breaking down at crucial moments in the rally. These programmes give an insight into the drama of the Donegal Rally. We see anticipation, fear, adrenaline, happiness, worry and of course sadness at the tragedy that occurred during the event.”

An Railí is a Picture House Production for BBC Northern Ireland, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund.

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