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More sex please, we’re Irish: the 10 steamiest moments Irish audiences will never forget...

From Pure Mules’ steamy threesome to Paul Mescal’s skimpy shorts, we look back at those memorable moments that sent pulses racing around the country

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Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People

Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People

Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People

1. Paul Mescal’s GAA shorts

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘sex symbol’? Marilyn Monroe in her flying skirt? Bo Derek running along the beach? How about a pale-legged Irishman wearing GAA shorts? Last year, Paul Mescal emerged as a heart-throb when he starred as Connell in Normal People. Blame it on the pandemic or blame it on the lack of human contact, but the sight of the Kildare actor in his humble O’Neills set hearts racing and prompted thirsty tweets like, “Paul Mescal’s shorts aka the star of all my sexual daydreams.”

2. Alan Shatter’s sexy romance novel

Forget Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Fifty Shades of Grey, neither are a patch on Laura, the steamy romance penned by none other than former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Originally published in 1990, the book tells the story of a love affair between a politician and his secretary. It made headlines again in 2013 after a complaint was made to the censorship board and was subsequently republished. Choice quotes include, “When she loosened her grip and her body relaxed, he knew he was going to erupt” and “She gasped again as he pulled himself free of her and overflowed on her slender body.” Ooh-err.

3. Anne Doyle’s kiss

In 1998, Anne Doyle appeared as a guest on the comedy panel series Don’t Feed the Gondolas and caused a stir when she sensationally locked lips with her co-panellist, Brendan O’Connor. Just like that, the public saw a new side to the buttoned-up newsreader. A side that was a little bit bold and a lot of craic. Speaking on the RTÉ One series Keys To My Life last year, Doyle said that the incident got her into trouble with the top brass in RTÉ, and characterised it as “a moment of impulsiveness”. Atta girl, Anne.

4. Kerrygold ad

One of the most memorable ads of the 1990s was the Kerrygold ad that asked, “Who’s taking the horse to France?” While the ad was ostensibly about the sale of a horse, the Irish public found themselves transfixed by the palpable sexual tension between the French femme fatale and the strapping Irish man. The pair stole glances at each other across the kitchen right under the nose of the man’s elderly mother. They exchanged sweet nothings about butter. By the end, it was clear that they would not only be taking the horse to France, but taking their relationship to the next level. Iconic.

5. Boyzone dancing

In 1993, a new boy band appeared on The Late Late Show to showcase their wares. After being introduced by Gay Byrne, the group that would become Boyzone proceeded to dance, flap and gyrate to a thumping house tune. A bare-chested Shane Lynch even grabbed his crotch and thrust at the studio audience as though he was channelling his inner Chippendale. We may look back and cringe now but it was arguably the closest thing early-nineties Ireland had to Magic Mike. And sure didn’t it all work out for the lads in the end?

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6. Glenroe’s roll in the hay

Glenroe viewers were left scandalised during the Christmas of 1997 when Miley did the dirt on Biddy with her cousin Fidelma. The couple’s illicit tryst began when they were having a tipple in a barn. Fidelma uttered the immortal words, “Do you have tickles, Miley?” and the pair duly started pawing at one another. Eventually, they fell into each other’s arms and started furiously shifting one another. A roll in the hay ensued (albeit off-screen) and one of the soap’s most famous storylines was set in motion. Who knew that hay bales were such an aphrodisiac, eh?

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Andrew Scott as Hot Priest in Fleabag

Andrew Scott as Hot Priest in Fleabag

Andrew Scott as Hot Priest in Fleabag

7. Andrew Scott as Hot Priest

Not only did Irish actor Andrew Scott deliver a poignant, affecting performance in the award-winning comedy series Fleabag, but he also caused many viewers to ask themselves, “Hang on, do I fancy a priest?” As the gin-swilling Hot Priest, he got many of us hot under the collar as both he and Fleabag, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, grappled with the feelings they were developing for one another. So much so that Google Trends reported a surge in people searching “sex with priest”. As comedian London Hughes tweeted, “When that priest said ‘kneel’ my vagina exploded in a way a man has never quite been able to achieve.” Amen.

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Scobie (Garrett Lombard), Jennifer (Charlene McKenna) and Tom (JJ Feild) in Pure Mule: The Lost Weekend

Scobie (Garrett Lombard), Jennifer (Charlene McKenna) and Tom (JJ Feild) in Pure Mule: The Lost Weekend

Scobie (Garrett Lombard), Jennifer (Charlene McKenna) and Tom (JJ Feild) in Pure Mule: The Lost Weekend

8. Pure Mule threesome

While Normal People may have made headlines for its sex scenes, it arguably had nothing on the edgy mid-noughties drama Pure Mule. The series followed the lives of young people in Co Offaly as they got up to all sorts at the weekend. Boozing, drugs, casual sex nothng was off limits. In one memorable scene, Jennifer (Charlene McKenna), Kevin (Luke Griffin) and Geraldine (Simone Kirby) smoke joints, drink wine and take pills before having a threesome. A threesome! In Offaly! Marianne and Connell, eat your heart out.

9. Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you

In the 1970s, Harp released an ad, which featured an Irishman overseas reminiscing on everything he missed about home. Chief among the things he missed was a certain Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you. In the ad, Sally, played by ‘Allo ‘Allo! actress Vicki Michelle, flashed a knowing smile in the viewer’s direction. It was subtle, but just like that, she captured the hearts of men all over the country. Indeed, no doubt many of a certain vintage still have fond memories of Sally O’Brien.

10. Riverdance

In 1994, Riverdance made its debut at the Eurovision Song Contest and succeeded in pulling off the unthinkable: it made Irish dancing sexy. Jean Butler took to the stage wearing an off-the-shoulder mini dress while Michael Flatley donned a billowing silk shirt that looked as though it was made specifically to be worn in front of wind machines. Together they danced up a storm with neither a curly wig nor a garish gúna in sight. Suddenly, Irish dancing was as sensual as a tantalising tango or an erotic rumba. Talk about getting jiggy with it.


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