Two Irish TV Shows I’ve Watched Recently

This is kind of a strange one! Before I get into it, here are a couple quick updates:

You may be excited to know that I have started writing a novel, and it is going well! I have not worked on the first draft of a novel since 2020, when I wrote the second half of a novel that I started in 2015—which was the last time I started writing a brand new novel. So this is my first time starting a brand new novel since 2015!!! Needless to say, I am killing it, best thing I’ve ever written, guaranteed career-making title, etc. etc. I won’t be posting updates about it very often, because that’s tedious, but here is a teeny tiny sneak peak at the opening paragraphs. You will see nothing else of it until it is finished.

As for some writing which you’ll be able to read a little sooner, though: in May I will be publishing “Is Magic School Still Worth It?” as a zine! It is a very good short story about trying to put a price tag on our nobler aspirations, i.e. magic. And higher ed. The zine will be available for free, just like “Cartographer” was. Drop me a line at FrancisRBass [at] gmail [dot] com if you want one! I will be making more noise about this as release date gets closer, so no rush.

Okay, onto the post! These are two Irish TV shows I watched on youtube recently. I don’t normally write about TV shows, and I’m not doing so now because I have anything tremendously insightful to say about them. But these shows are pretty damn terrific, and I expect you would never hear about them (unless you’re Irish) if not for this post, so you’re welcome.

Also there’s a new 1-page comic at the end :^)

Hands was a documentary TV series, composed of 30-minute episodes, released between 1978 and 1989. There were 37 episodes in total, each covering a different artisan craft still being practiced in Ireland at the time of recording. The episodes will usually focus on one craftsperson, or a family business, but sometimes they take a broader survey of several practitioners.

I’d describe the tone as generally nostalgic and patriotic, in a way that is charming rather than obnoxious. The show is warm and mild, and mostly just wants to celebrate the crafts that it spotlights.

Each episode has a different narrator, and many of them bring character and liveliness to their episodes, animatedly recalling scenes from their own childhood when things like horse carts and shoemakers were more common.

The strength of this show is combining that warm, human delivery with a clear and thorough depiction of the various crafts. The process of weaving a rug, or repairing a leather book, or constructing a currach, is shown from start to finish, with good, steady shots of the handiwork. It is immensely satisfying seeing raw materials slowly become a finished good in this way. The work is slow, but bit by bit the embroidery, or the harp, or the hurl, becomes whole, and you got to see it every step of the way.

Read More »