St. Colmcille or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Giant Mechanical Fire-Breathing Monster Laying Waste to My Hometown

It’s strange today, with a hangover that feels like my cranium has been crammed inside a full stop and my innards pummeled into tenderised meat, thinking back to The Return of Colmcille festivities that took place in Derry at the weekend. It seems something like a dream or some collective hallucination that swept through the town like ergot-infested bread or a pleasant Danse Macabre. I’d safely assumed I wouldn’t live to see The Undertones driving past playing My Perfect Cousin (the thinking person’s Teenage Kicks) followed by twenty foot prams and greyhounds, levitating monks and the crew of the Spanish Armada but somehow that day arrived. Neither I nor the 30,000 spectators were even tripping when we witnessed it. It was a joyous, authentic, surrealist, strangely magical and brilliantly orchestrated celebration of the place and people, all thanks to Frank Cottrell Boyce, everyone at Walk the Plank and the people of Derry who embraced and volunteered for it. And thanks to the Colmcille team for letting me take part in the writing side of things and those who told me their stories, it was a real pleasure. I’m usually a cynic but I have to admit to feeling a warm alien feeling of… goodwill stirring in my black heart, like Scrooge seeing the death of Tiny Tim, albeit Tiny Tim in the form of a gigantic firework-emitting mechanical dragon. Hopefully there’ll be some good footage of the insane fireworks and puppets to upload (the camera phone I was using sadly turned out to be a potato) but the BBC and UTV have some great photos in the meantime. Ego vobis valedico as the man said.

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