Tea time for Ted fans as all roads lead to 'Craggy Island'
HORDES of nuns, priests and put-upon housekeepers have descended on the Aran Islands to drink their weight in tea and pray for a new pope.
More than 350 Father Ted fans arrived on Inis Mor for the seventh annual Tedfest, and in between the Lovely Girls Contest and Ted's Got Talent the hot topic was the job opening in Rome.
Odds on favourite to replace 'Benny' was Bishop Len Brennan, but a few novice priests were determined to throw their hats into the ring.
Sarah Batson and Brendan Fitzgerald, who had travelled from London, made the journey in character as Sister Sarah and Fr Brendan, raising more than just eyebrows among airport security staff.
"When I went through customs I blessed them, which didn't go down at all well, so I got the whole search," said Brendan.
Among this year's festival presenters is Rob Morgan, son of late Father Ted legend Dermot, who was hosting the Lovely Girls Competition.
"I'm following in dad's footsteps – I even have the snazzy jacket," he said. "The last thing I want to do is a direct lift of the sketch, I'm not Dermot, so I just freestyle it."
While Dermot Morgan did not live to see the series become a cult classic, his son believes he would have enjoyed the idea of Tedfest.
"He'd think we were mental," he said. "He'd be looking at all this and saying, 'Ah lads, do you not have something better to be doing with your weekend?' But seriously, I think he'd be happy that people still enjoy the show to such an extent that they would come to this."
Also on Inis Mor was Joe Rooney, better known as Fr Damo. Despite appearing on the show just once as the juvenile priest, he is still stopped in the street by fans.
"No matter what I do, I get noticed for Fr Damo," he said. "I get asked who I prefer, Blur or Oasis, three or four times a day. I say Blur now – I've grown up."
Fr Ted fanatic Marquis Sledge, from Mississippi, was praying for divine intervention – he had travelled all the way to attend the festival without telling his wife.
"I came just for this. My wife went to the Bahamas with her sister, so I got to be back before she returns," he said.
Not to be outdone, John Bottrell had travelled from Sydney.
"This was my pilgrimage," he said. "I've always been a fan of Fr Ted, and so have my grandkids. I was googling Fr Ted to show a mate and I came across the festival, so I had to come."