Comedic travels on the Irish waterways with Griff Rhys Jones, Dara O Briain and Rory McGrath. The trio visit a haunted castle and sail through Ardnacrusha, Europe's largest lock.
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We've set off from Dublin to cross Ireland with the aim
of getting to Limerick for the country's largest poetry festival.
There was a young man called Wyat, Whose voice was incredibly quiet.
Rory and I have been ordered not to embarrass Dara on his home turf,
but we just can't help ourselves. Top of the morning to you!
'So far, we've been on the slowest barge in Ireland
'that we've had to abandon because Griff couldn't start it.'
We've gone high-tech with a car that was a boat.
We don't make aspirational telly here, do we?
Had to resort to antique, self-propelled, railway transportation.
This is how we grew up in Ireland, doing all this kind of stuff.
'Now we've borrowed brave Reggie's boat, Amaryllis, which is his pride and joy.'
He's a very nervous man, isn't he?
He might have every reason to be worried if he saw the last programme.
Ahead, we have to descend into Europe's deepest lock.
This is like descending into hell. As far as I can remember it.
It was a bit like this.
'And continue our journey on as many traditional boats
-'as people are stupid enough to lend us.'
-Mind the pole!
And Dara's desperate bid to defend the honour of the Irish nation
wilts under a barrage of bad accents.
-Do a little bit of the Irish accent.
-Good man. 'Terrible jokes.'
-Nothing like a large Paddy.
-Oh! Just stop now.
'And Griff stops at nothing to try
'and win the first Limerick limerick competition.'
The Shannon. Or so we're told.
Leaving Athlone in the yacht Amaryllis,
thick fog stops us just 100 metres down the river.
I can't tell whether it's getting better or not.
As is the way with fog, I suppose. Gets better for a few seconds,
then what you can see suddenly disappears again
and comes back again.
There's the Marie Celeste coming towards you.
Then it disappears again.
I've been told it's great down there. Further down is absolutely stunning.
I've been hearing about it all my life, to be honest with you.
How beautiful the Shannon is.
Then we go on to it and we have to stop 30 seconds into the trip.
Whilst we wait, time for loading more supplies and making coffee.
-Did you ask for Ribena?
Well, it'll keep the scurvy away.
Ribena? Who drinks Ribena?
At this sort of age? Ribena is what deprived chav children
of about, sort of, four, drink.
Just because I don't drink tea,
I'm treated like a bloody child on this shoot.
It's not long, though, before the sun comes out and the fog burns off.
Now we disappear really from towns and on to the river.
This is where it gets exciting.
And Three Men In A Boat-y.
We were approaching one of the main stops on the Shannon.
"Do not kill pike". It says underneath the bridge. Big sign.
Don't kill Pike?
He was my favourite character in Dad's Army.
The boat's owner, Reggie, had recommended that we stop
in a Killeens, a typical Irish rural shop/pub that sells, well,
Griff and I will look after the provisions. You look after the...
I'll go to the bar.
Do you want anything?
The usual. Biccies. Drink. Ketchup.
-No, I'm up to here with that.
-How are you?
Fine. You brought the nice weather with you.
I'm Rory. This is my husband.
Pay no attention to him.
This is a fantastic shop.
I was about to say, "What shop are you?" But you're every shop.
Well, there's some bits of everything, all right.
It goes back to the time when there was little transport.
People needed to be able to get everything in their own village.
We kept it on from that.
You've got a pub joined to it,
which I think is an excellent use of shop space, having a pub in it.
Is there anything you don't sell here?
Damn. Cos we need three coffins.
Well, definitely two.
Do you need any beer and stuff like that, Rory?
There's none on board.
Could we have a half bottle of Paddy and I'll make a present to Dara?
-That'll go down well.
As you can see from the disappearing light, we're almost at the end
of the first day in which the Three Men finally stop messing about
with railway things, cars and boats and it became what we should do,
which is get onto a beautiful stretch of water in a beautiful boat
and see the gorgeous countryside.
Beautiful day. One thing you're probably not seeing
is just how COLD IT IS here on the lake.
Dara's up on the bow, mooning on about his homeland, but...
..back in the stern, we just got to get something out of our system
that's been building up inside us.
IN IRISH ACCENTS
"What do you think of the River Shannon, mate?"
"To be sure, it's a wonderful river.
"You're a grand lad for all that and everything you are indeed.
"Just a broth of a boy, you are."
"I think it adds to the fillum. I think it adds to the fillum."
Have you noticed there's no boats on the river?
Have you noticed that? That's cos Irish people aren't
stupid enough to take boating holidays in mid-October.
It's only the BBC, only the English,
who would be stupid enough to do that.
IN IRISH ACCENT
"You got your man up there. The big fella.
"Up there on the top of the cabin.
"He's turned now and looking at us,
"for to be sure that he is, to be sure."
What's he doing? Just yap, yap, yap?
"He's getting all upset with us."
What? What now?
I'll give you 20 euros, Griff, if you shout top of the morning to him.
I'm not going to do it. He didn't like it the last time I did it.
It's going to be the loneliest boat trip.
All right. OK?
'Just the other side of the bridge is our overnight mooring.'
Wonderfully done, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
Griff, would you say that Rory and Dara are getting better at crewing?
They certainly are. They know their ropes now.
Only if you call them ropes.
I still can't remember which one is a sheath.
A sheath is attached to a sail and a warp is not attached to a sail.
Oh, God. A line?
A line is what we could do with now.
I mean, in the comedy.
Yeah, exactly. In the dialogue. We've forgotten our script.
Tonight, we were visiting an old friend of mine,
who lives, believe it or not, here.
Leap Castle is famed as the most haunted place in Ireland
and its owner, Sean Ryan, is equally famed
as one of the best tin whistle players in the country.
-How are you, Sean?
Very well indeed. My goodness.
THEY SPEAK IN GAELIC
Sean, I'm Rory.
Sean, I'm Griff. I'm going to speak some English to you.
And just say hello and thank you for having us.
What a fantastic place.
And this is Sean's house. This is not a set or a contrivance or something.
This is the house you've been renovating?
The house we've been restoring, yes.
-How long have you been renovating the castle?
-Since 1994. Early in 1994.
It's supposed to be famously haunted, this castle,
-Sean, is that true?
-Well, I suppose we don't see it as haunted.
Lots of spirits in the house.
Have you seen them?
We do. We do all the time. We see quite a lot of them.
We hear them. We even have a lady in the solar that touches people
-and brushes off people.
-Really? I could get lucky at last.
It's been a quiet week in Ireland for you, has it?
It's like somebody just passing you by and brushing off you.
Yeah, that's normally what happens!
Any chance of a uisce?
-A little drink?
-Yeah. A little drink would be nice.
What would you like?
-Whatever you've got.
-Let's find something.
OK, let's go for it.
During the renovations, Sean found several skeletons in a chamber
called an oubliette or forget me, where they had been left to die.
The castle was also the scene of a clan massacre.
But the mood will be happier tonight
because Sean has invited some of his friends to play for us.
Sean's daughter is an Irish dance champion.
She's very good, isn't she?
Magic. Absolutely magical.
Back at the boat, Rory finds himself touched by another spirit.
Well, you know what, there's nothing like a large Paddy.
Oh, just stop now.
That joke is getting tired.
It hasn't been on yet.
MOBILE PHONE RINGS
-That's my phone. Sorry about that.
-Well, answer it.
No, it's my agent from London.
"I can get you off that river, Dara".
IN COCKNEY ACCENT
"All right, yeah? Lovely. How are things going in Ireland? Lovely."
See, that's as bad as your Irish accent is.
No, I don't believe that.
Next morning, Loch Derg beckons,
giving us a chance to get some sail up.
The boat has a folding mast to get under bridges.
The wind picks up and we rattle on to Loch Derg Yacht Club,
where we were entered in a race.
It's a proper old school yacht club.
In fact, one of the oldest in the world.
So I'm not sure how they'll take to us.
I can see a load of people on the bridge of the Yacht Club.
-I can see a lot of people.
-Is there a banner?
No, but there's a marquee area and lots of people standing outside.
-They're just out looking at us and making sure
we're not making an arse of it, really.
They race a unique sailing dinghy here, called the Shannon One Design.
And in the right conditions, they can go like the clappers.
Without wind, of course, they revert to type.
They're complete sods.
I must point out that the race hasn't started.
Technically, in a sailing race, this wouldn't be within the laws.
Outside the five-minute gun, anything is in the rules.
Outside the five-minute gun, anything is in the rules, so...!
Have you got an outboard motor on-board?
In a good blow, these are very fast.
They're good, long, quite simple boats.
The opposition are looking very nervous.
Shall I sit in a position that indicates velocity?
How's this? I'm clinging furiously onto it with the wind in my hair.
'Eventually, we make it to the starting positions.'
Three, two, one.
What does that mean?
There we go. The race is on!
Are you on the edge of your seat?
I'm not even on the edge of my seat and it's a very slippery seat.
Literally, we are static.
It's so exciting!
We are locked in a battle with them at one mile an hour.
They've stolen our wind. What little wind there is, they have stolen it.
Don't be looking smug at me. There's nothing that rowing
can't make up the difference quickly enough.
'Dara resorts to cheating.
'It's a tactic that, although entertaining,
'isn't gaining him any ground.'
OK, we can get this in the bag a little bit.
-Shall we do that?
-Griff is in second at the moment.
I will warn you, Mr Director and boat people,
do not make us hit you and don't take our wind. Go away.
-Dara is definitely last.
-At the moment, Dara is definitely last.
What a gratifying sight that is.
Way back there, the tall, bald Irish figure of Dara O'Brien.
"Would you stop that? Would you stop that?"
'Despite the lack of speed, the boats are actually moving
'and, if anything, more skill is required to win this race.
'I'm in second place, but at the buoy I'm too polite and I go wide.
'Two boats take me on the inside. They're polite enough in the
'clubhouse, but on the water, they chew you up and spit you out.'
'Griff can't make up the ground and comes in fourth.'
'At the last minute, we lost everything.'
'And Rory's just a few behind.'
Just going to cross the line now and wait for that horn.
-Griff, can I just ask, what position did you come?
-And at one point you were second
until you went round the maker. What went wrong? It was the worst
going round a marker, apparently, anyone's ever seen.
-No, I don't think so.
-I think it was.
-Well, we'll ask a few people.
'After we've had a cup of tea and a biscuit, we remember something.'
Rory, shut up. Just shut up!
I haven't said anything yet.
You're all, "I did this" and, "I deserved it because I did that".
No, you were great, Dara.
He didn't even at any point take the helm of his boat.
I took the helm all the time.
No you didn't, Rory. We know. We saw. Well done, mate.
Rory, you were a ballast.
We're forced to abandon the scheduled three-minute gloat
because we need to push on through Lock Derg.
Still no wind, but plenty of sun.
At the bottom of the lake is Killaloe, which was the seat of power
of the last High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, who famously chased
the Vikings out of Ireland and from whom I get the name O'Briain.
At Parteen Weir the river splits, with the majority of the water
diverted into a canal called the Headrace.
Dramatic, isn't it?
-Well navigated, Rory.
-Thank you, Griff.
This man-made section is designed to feed water
into Ireland's largest hydro-electric power station, Ardnacrusha.
If we'd been in a rented boat,
we'd have had to turn round at this point.
The power station lock is considered too dangerous
for most people to tackle.
Quite why we're being allowed through, though, is a mystery.
Kind of surreal to be bringing Rory and Griff along
to Ardnacrusha Hydro-Electric Power Station because I haven't written
or said those words since I was in school because it's the kind
of the thing you do an essay on.
You know, "Ireland's power infrastructure"
by Dara O'Brien, aged 12.
And just to show my education wasn't wasted,
here's some facts and figures.
When Ardnacrusha was finished in 1929 by the German company Siemens,
it was regarded as one of the world's greatest technical achievements
and formed the template for all large-scale hydro-electric schemes.
It was the new state of Ireland's first big project
and was controversial.
They may press the magic button.
5,000 worked on the construction and it cost a fifth
of Ireland's entire budget.
I'm disappointed, actually, with the architecture.
Did you want more horns and lights and "wah, wah, wah"?
No, I wanted more sort of rococo decoration on it, maybe.
Rococo decoration on the Ardnacrusha...?
-There we go.
-There's your horns and lights.
It supplied the electricity for 95% of the entire country,
although today that figure is more like 5%.
And at 100 foot, it is Europe's deepest lock.
This is like descending into hell. At least, as far as I can remember
it was a bit like this. It's going back a few years.
Are we all getting the stench?
Are we all getting the all-enveloping smell of stagnant water?
I think what is alarming is what is behind you now, Dara.
I'm glad we didn't sit on that.
No, I was talking about your career.
This is quite spooky, isn't it?
-It is spooky, isn't it?
It's like being in a concrete grave, isn't it?
A concrete grave? Gees, what a horrendous notion.
Apparently, they do have a tradition of asking women to get off the boat
because they get so freaked out by it.
Is that sexist in this day and age?
A little bit, but you know.
'The lock has two chambers.
'The first is 60 foot.'
It'll be nice to be back in sunlight for a couple of minutes at least.
'And then that's followed by another of 40 foot.
'Essentially, it's like a big watery, mossy lift.'
Interesting plant life.
-HE MIMICS DAVID ATTENBOROUGH
-"Even here, 40 feet down,
"in what is essentially a cave,
"forms of fern find a way of living".
'After nearly an hour in the dank, dripping gloom, we finally rejoin the original River Shannon.'
That's it. There it goes. Look at that. Fantastic.
On this side of Ardnacrusha, the river has a stunning natural beauty.
It's like being up the Amazon.
Kingfishers, herons. What is this?
Because we came on that long approach which is, let's face it, quite dull.
And then we come down 100 feet and this is astonishing.
That looks like an eagle.
Is that an eagle?
It's a heron.
They are virtually indistinguishable to the untrained ornithologist.
Another heron. Look. Two herons. Three herons!
Are you getting the herons?
This is amazing.
'This is my first trip down the Shannon, and while it's been beautiful,
'it hasn't been an easy journey at times
'because I've felt like I'm representing the entire country.'
Every time Rory and Griff ask me a question about Ireland,
I feel hot breath of four million people on the back of by neck saying,
"Get this right. We educated you. Get this right".
Our arrival into Limerick is marked by the famous Thomond Park, home of the Munster rugby team.
'Limerick also marks the end of the Shannon River.
'From here to the Atlantic, it's the Shannon Estuary.'
'Here we say goodbye to the Amaryllis, since its owner Reggie
'doesn't want us to take it onto open water. Inland water has been risky enough.'
'When we arrived, Limerick was looking very pretty in the October sunshine.
'The city is divided, paradoxically I suppose, into three quarters.
'There's the ancient quarter dating back to Viking times with a castle.
'There's a modern Irish quarter...
'and there's a Victorian English quarter.'
'This evening, we've all been invited to the Limerick International Poetry Festival.'
'But I discovered that the limerick wouldn't feature in the festival.
'A Limerick poetry festival without limericks? Ridiculous.
'Something needed to be done.
'And so I have a plan, and it starts with a trip to a village just outside the city.'
This is Bunratty, County Clare, and what an amazing place it is.
It's a sort of folk theme park.
It's a living, working museum, if you like.
And it shows what Ireland was like about half an hour ago.
'The reason that I'm here is that I've been told of a great printer
'who could help me with a bit of publicity for what I had in mind.'
# Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so But come... #
Angus, how are you? Good to see you. Rory.
This is beautiful. This is printing like she was meant to be.
Now, how long are we going back, now, in years?
-We're going back to 1850, 1860.
-Hey. You look well on it. You look younger.
Is it Oil of Olay you've been doing, yeah? Now, erm, the reason I'm here
is, I've come all the way from a place in the east of Ireland called Dublin.
-I know it well.
-Yeah. Are you a Dubliner yourself?
-I was born there.
-Baile Atha Cliath?
-Baile Atha Cliath, yeah. Very good.
the reason I'm coming to Limerick... As an Englishman, there's a poetry festival on in Limerick,
and, to me, Limerick can only mean one thing...
# Da, diddly-diddly, di, di Da, dee-dee, da, dee-dee, da, dee. #
-The limerick. So, I want to promote a, sort of, independent poetry festival
in which we get members of the public to bring their limericks,
and I thought, "What a great place." We can print flyers. I can hand them round in pubs and in the street.
-Printed authentically by you.
-With an Irish twist to it?
-With an Irish twist.
-I want to see this.
-I'm just thinking of
something very simple, but very...
absolutely Irish in its being.
Not over the top, but I'll do a variation of a border surround...
This is what you see in an Irish opticians, isn't it?
-It could be. That's why so many people wear glasses. You're right.
-How many copies, basically, do you want?
-Well, we'll need...
-I want to flood Limerick with it.
-I want people to get along to this do, so about three?
Meanwhile, back in Limerick, the poetry festival wasn't until the evening.
We were boatless now and although there's plenty in Limerick with several rowing clubs and what not,
it all looked a little tame.
With time to kill, we thought we'd try something nice and dangerous.
With every power boat, all you do is think,
"I wonder which is going to give way first.
-"The boat or my shoulders?"
-Or my joints.
While somebody throws salty water in your eyes every 10 seconds.
The swans weren't impressed.
They'd seen it all before.
But we hadn't and we needed a bit of instruction.
It's all quite nice and easy until we go round a turn.
Then I'll go, "One, two, three, left" and you will go,
"Waaah!" Like this. And come back in again.
-Left. Yes. Just left.
What happens if we don't stretch out on the left?
The boat can kind of slide across and maybe flip over
and we'll be in the drink.
Maybe flip over. How casual is that?
-Dara, look at this, what we've got.
It's the Swat team!
What we were racing were zapcats.
Basically, an ultra-lightweight inflatable
with a massively over-powered engine.
Three, two, one, go!
Dara's blue and I'm yellow.
Though, I try to overcome that.
Griff takes an early lead, but not for the first time in this trip,
his turn around the buoy is less than perfect.
I take the outside line and we surge ahead.
Even above the roar of the engines, I hear my driver saying something
about how all this extra ballast is helping the turns.
It's a simple enough circuit.
From the bridge, round the buoy three times.
Griff gains ground and I have to turn well to keep up.
There's the buoy. It's neck and neck.
But I'm getting better at the turns and so take the tight inside line at the bridge,
sending Griff wide, and this gives me a winning lead.
I finally win a race on Three Men In A Boat. That's it!
I've not seen Griff's face in defeat in five series.
So this is a time to enjoy this.
Take him again. Take him again!
Not only in a state of defeat, but in a state of nervous collapse.
Yes, it is petrifying.
Meanwhile, my leaflets are printed
and I'm mustering support for the Limerick limerick competition.
Hello there. How are you? Bye-bye.
Hello! Don't go. Girls!
'But the good people of Limerick
'clearly didn't think my festival was as good an idea as I did.'
-Will you come to our limerick competition tonight?
They don't want some grinning, red-faced, smarmy Englishman
coming up saying, "Hello! Are you coming to my limerick competition?"
On the other hand, I think it's a splendid idea
and I'd like to air a few of my own compositions.
But with Rory in the chair, there's no way I'd get a fair hearing,
so it'll have to be foul means.
We've got to get ourselves to a state where he won't notice
when somebody turns up looking a bit odd.
Luckily, Limerick boasts several theatres
and a proper make-up artist to go with them - Miriam.
-"Hello there, Rory!"
Do you think he'd smell a rat?
'Miriam even arrives with her own fat suit.'
I think we might need to just stitch this up or pin it up.
What's Limerick famous for?
-Rugby. OK. What else is Limerick famous for?
-Having good nights out and having fun.
-OK, I'll give you one more try.
As a third attempt, what is Limerick famous for?
For limericks. Oh! Very good.
Do you know any limericks?
No, I don't actually, no. Not a poet at all.
-I bet you are.
-Not at all. Got to go.
-I'll see you there.
Come as you are.
-There once was a fellow called McGrath
Who wanted a pint and a laugh
In a fit of the giggles
He split down the middles
And had to make do with a half.
I can hear that in another room. You doing your cod Irish accent.
-The beard! What?
-Yes. I like that.
-It's just so obviously you.
-But wait a minute.
-Look at you.
It looks nothing like not you. It looks like you in a tache.
I leave Griff to his ridiculous disguise and head for a taste
of the official poetry festival at the White House.
I'm Martin Mullingat from Mullingar.
From Mullingar in the middle of Ireland.
I can confirm there was nothing as tawdry as a limerick.
The little dog laughed to see such fun
as the dish ran away with the hot spoon...
Still, I'm treated to a proper evening of literary talent.
Ignore me at your peril.
Entertain me at the risk of losing your life.
Ooooh...the harlequin was dancing
when they picked the Ace of Spades against the King of Hearts...
But you don't want to see this, do you? No. You want to see this.
Around the corner at the Tom Collins pub,
Rory's renegade Limerick limerick competition
had also pulled a huge crowd.
Welcome to the Tom Collins pub - the best pub in Ireland!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
My Guinness is assured now. Thank you.
Is that it? Lovely. Thank you very much indeed.
This is the special event. It's the first ever
Three Men In A Boat independent Limerick limerick competition.
It's also the last ever Three Men In A Boat independent Limerick limerick competition.
Yes, I've got a false beard and a dirty limerick
and I arrive just as the competition starts.
Will I fool Rory?
So, good luck everybody and can we have limerick number one?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In Limerick where once they did stay
Three men shared a boat for the day
This sun it did shine
The River Shannon sublime
Irish sunburn's the price they did pay.
There you go. Yes!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
There was an old man from Dingle
Who spent many a long year single
He looked near and far in many a bar
And now...he's an alcoholic.
Good. That's great.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
One of my favourite limericks which deliberately deviates from the form,
which is quite a nice one, is:
There was a young bard from Japan
Whose limericks just wouldn't scan
I can manage the lines and the number of rhymes
It's just I try and cram as many words in the last line as I possibly can.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
There was a young man called Wyat
Whose voice was incredibly quiet
And then one day it faded away
And that was...
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Come on. Number 11. Where are you?
There was a lass a few miles from Kilkeel
Who chatted up every man she could see
But when it came to a test she was reckoned the best
Cos practice makes perfect, you'll see.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That's wonderful. Nice to have an autobiographical limerick!
Even in a pub full of fat hairy men, I look utterly improbable.
But luckily, not as improbable as Rory.
A TV producer of note
Was convinced he could get crap to float
Jones, McGrath and O'Briain polluted the stream
And they called it Three Men In A Boat.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
We have a winner!
Oh, he's in!
I'd like to know who that was with that strange Jamaican accent.
'The accent gave Griff away
'and he was immediately disqualified.'
-'Well, I certainly fooled some of the people,
'if not all of the time.'
I said to Billy, "Is that that guy that drives the bus around Limerick?
"With the grey hair and the sideburns?"
And he said, "I don't know, I think it might be!"
I thought he drove a boat,
but instead he drives a bus.
So I definitely thought it was him.
He looks remarkably convincing as an Irishman with his beard.
I knew Griff when he actually was that shape, but I thought he looked very good.
Very Irish indeed.
He looked like the Lord Mayor of Limerick.
Hopeless. It was hopeless. Even as I stood there.
Ha-ha! It's brilliant.
The guy said, "I recognise you from somewhere. Are you the, eh...
"Oh! Last Of the Summer Wine!"
The following morning,
it was time to face the final leg of our journey.
It would be wrong to come this far west and not to take that final leap
out into the Atlantic to the Aran Islands.
The islands have preserved their culture partly due to their remoteness
and the only problem we have is how to get there.
For generations, the journey was made rowing in a Currach.
'Currachs are traditional fishing boats
'made from canvas stretched over a frame.
'This makes them really lightweight
'so you can carry them to and from the beach.
'But puncture the skin by stepping in the wrong place
'and you'll sink like a stone.'
Any tips on getting in?
Yes. Don't stand at the side.
Stand in the middle.
And be light-footed.
And stay low.
Pretend you're a feather.
And what's my impression of a feather?
'To get some instruction,
'we've arranged to meet up with local rowers Anne, Elise and Leah,
'who are actually the women's champions of Ireland.'
Basic growing skills would be
when the oars are out of the water, you lean forwards...
'We are, by now, used to people thinking we're clueless
'and teaching us the absolute basics.'
..bringing the oars into the water, pull back,
pushing off the foot-step and then forward again,
oars out of the water, and then pull back.
Doesn't she realise that these Three Men have rowed the Thames together?
1, 2, 3, go! Look, look! Pull!
-Dip in and pull.
Lean forward. Lean forward! And pull.
You'd think you were born in Connemara or something!
-Your total Currach racing experience is as much as ours.
I've rowed more than you two
and it shows every time we get on the water.
Now, pick up the pace. Right a bit. Right!
The other problem with this design is there's no keel or rudder.
Meaning the steering is all down to skilful oarsmanship.
Perhaps we should have listened to Anne in the first place.
When you say left, do you mean turn left
or use more with your left rudder?
-Use your left oar more.
Can we just fly by them?
Can we just crash into them and take them out?
Left. Use your left oar. Come on!
Can we work out some system here?
Cos you're screaming left, you're screaming right!
Want to swap around? Will we mix up?
No. This works better like this!
In the calm water of the inlet,
we managed to do lots of going round in circles.
You didn't do that, did you, you see!
You can't teach that!
I suggest we should go back to the quay and we get out.
Don't start organising a coup d'etat
just when we're beginning to get some rhythm going.
Mind the pole!
'We soon realise that our only skill in Currachs
'is hitting the channel markers.
-Two out of two!
We're the best slalom rowers in the country!
This is great. This is like crazy golf.
Can I just say that this is probably the happiest I've ever been,
to have the two of you here, bitching at each other,
snapping, giving it about the technical aspects of rowing.
I just...I feel at home.
More than I've ever felt at home.
Think we should row to the Aran Islands or take another form of transport?
I think we'll find some other way to get the islands.
It's become apparent that we will not be rowing to the Aran Islands.
And we will need another boat.
Preferably without oars.
The gloriously named Galway Hooker
is the sailing boat of choice in these parts.
Traditionally it was used to transport turf as fuel to the islands
because there were no trees, because there's no soil, because the islands are basically rock.
You couldn't live here without becoming resilient and self-sufficient,
and this, combined with their remoteness
means that the islands have preserved a traditional Irish culture.
For example, for most islanders, their first language is Irish.
We've not had a drop of wind in a week and a half.
We've had a drifting sailing race
and now are drifting across to the Aran Islands.
I'd like to join in, boys, but at this speed at the helm
I've just got to concentrate fully on the heading.
Despite the lack of wind,
we eventually get to the largest island, Inishmore.
For me, this place is culturally very significant,
but much of that old way of life has gone and they rely now,
to a large extent, on tourists, for their income.
With Aran sweaters, for example, being a big seller.
I'm going to have a chat in the cafe. What are you doing?
I'm going to do a bit of shopping.
Good for you. That's what we want you to do. We want you to shop.
-Is it safe to leave them unlocked here?
-Yes. It's pretty safe.
Why don't you tourists go off and buy stuff? That's your job here.
Buy things. Go on.
While they go and shop, I meet up with Cathy, one of the islanders.
Oh, this is lovely.
Don't tell Dara we're in here.
-We're just in here...
-I've just seen the very thing, Griff.
Actually, I have strict instructions
to return with an Aran Island sweater.
Because that's what you get here.
The problem is, the truth is,
you can get a better Aran sweater on Bond Street, I'm sure.
It is strange to bring the two lads
because they're no respecters, in some ways, of cultural values.
-We'll change that!
-We'll work on them!
-I've been showing them things
that normally I take the mickey out of, and my guard is up here.
I don't care about setting them loose in the Lough Derg Yacht Club
because that lot can handle it.
But this is a bit more precious.
This is a bit more Irish.
Has an element of, you know...
-Now, every one is different, apparently.
There are no two Aran sweaters which are the same.
The individual signature of the way they were knitted and the patterns
would have told the Aran islanders which fisherman it was
who unfortunately had fallen off his Currach and been drowned
and had his eyes pecked out by the old seagulls.
That's rather bleak, isn't it?
It would worry me if I were a fisherman on the Aran Islands.
I wouldn't ever have an Aran sweater. "Put this on."
-"No! I'm going to drown."
-I think it suits you, actually.
It's a bit of a cardie.
It is. What about this? Does that look suitably Irish?
Griff, you look like...
When you see Rory and Griff walk out of a shop dressed head to toe
in thick knitted wool, will a part of you and the inside go,
this is not the image we want to create?
-Eh, no, I mean...
-Because let's face it, neither of us are wearing Aran.
See, we don't have to wear it. We have it. It flows out of us.
We don't need to wear a bonnie sweater or a cap.
We've got it, Dara, so we don't need to wear it.
That's the Irish culture superiority in a nutshell. Sure, we have it.
-Let the English struggle with it.
-We've got it!
The Aran Islands are about much more than just sweaters, though.
Here on Inishmore,
on a cliff side facing out into the Atlantic, is Dun Aengus.
A magnificent megalithic fort.
No-one's quite sure why it's here or what it was ever guarding.
But, with the boys away,
it offers me a moment of communion with my culture,
here, on the islands that are its heartland.
DARA READS IN GAELIC
I really can't bring you two anywhere.
-Moving. That was, I thought.
-I think we upset the Paddy.
Yeah, you've ruined that now. Did you have to get flags as well?
You know, next time let's go to Wales and take the mickey out of your culture, Griff. How's that?
Go to Wales, put on taff hats and silly voices. Do you want that?
WELSH ACCENT: Oh look at you now, boy, from the valleys.
No. Not Wales. That would be embarrassing.
-We've got to go somewhere no-one knows us.
-What? You mean London?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
What do you get if you put an Englishman, an Irishman and a Welshman on a boat bound for Dublin?
Griff Rhys Jones, Dara O Briain and Rory McGrath return for the fourth series of Three Men in a Boat, and this time the trio are making their way across Ireland via canal and river, taking in the sights on their way to the famous Limerick Poetry Festival.
With Irishman Dara obviously nervous that Griff and Rory's behaviour (and in particular their terrible Irish jokes) will embarrass him up on home turf, his two companions are in their element. They see the trip as a perfect opportunity to irritate Dara while exploring Ireland's off-the-beaten-track midlands.
The trio start by sailing down the Shannon in the best weather Ireland has had in years, stopping off along the way to visit a friend of Dara's who also lives in Ireland's most haunted castle. After that they must face sailing through the terrifying Ardnacrusha, Europe's largest lock. Arriving in Limerick, Dara and Griff try a spot of powerboat racing, while Rory decides to host his own poetry festival for limericks only - the inaugural Limerick Limerick Competition.
The journey ends with a trip to the stunning Aran Islands, where the Men take a Galway hooker to visit the megalithic fort of Dun Aengus.