'It isn't a social commentary' - 'Redwater' priest hits back at 'Oirish' jibes
The 'hipster priest' who became the talking point of Sunday night's episode of 'Redwater' has defended criticism the programme panders to 'Oirish' stereotypes.
The first episode of the 'EastEnders' spin off series pulled in impressive ratings with an average of 495,000 viewers tuning in. However, some viewers thought the drama was filled with clichéd caricatures of Irish life.
The opening episode featured scenes of people downing Guinness and whiskey chasers in crowded bars, while Ian McElhinney, who plays 'Redwater' old timer Lance, rides a horse to the beach every day for a dip in the ocean.
Some viewers noted that even Irish actors like Fionnula Flanagan - who was born and raised in Dublin - sounded like they were putting on a faux Irish brogue.
But actor Oisín Stack, aka orange juice hating Father Dermott Dolan, says the show was never meant to be a realistic depiction of Irish life.
"This is not a social commentary," he told the Irish Independent.
"It's a psychological thriller that is meant to have a sense of suspense. Everything is meant to be heightened.
"I think if people are giving out about the realism they are missing the point of the genre. It is meant to be stylised and filled with dramatic suspense."
Speaking about the scenes in which people are drinking heavily in pubs, Stack jokingly replied: "I don't know about you but most of the time I go to a pub there tends to be a few people drinking alcohol."
It's not the first time some of Albert Square's finest have hopped across the Irish Sea.
In 1997, Pauline Fowler, played by Wendy Richard, came to Ireland to find her long-lost half-sister (sounds familiar). The three episodes based in Ireland caused uproar with viewers, due to the less-than-flattering depiction of Irish life.
Livestock wandered the streets of Dublin and everyone appeared to be hostile and half jarred. In one scene, a man poured a pint over Pauline's head. Then he demanded she paid for it.
The BBC later apologised for the representation of Irish life. Before shooting commenced on 'Redwater', Shane Richie assured fans history would not repeat itself and no one would play "the dopey card".
Arklow man Stack says being part of the series is a huge honour. "My mum is a big 'EastEnders' fan," he said.
"When I told her I was going to be in the series the decibel level in the room definitely increased. The reaction I've got from friends has been great."
Soap fans certainly seem happy to follow Alfie and Kat to 'Redwater' (Dunmore East) and why wouldn't they?
Viewers have gone through a lot with this fictional couple. A few dodgy accents isn't going to undermine that loyalty.