Confessions of a 'Ros na Rún' addict: How to get started

Now everybody can make like John Millington Synge and earwig on the native Irish at work and play in their own language. Having passed the 1000th episode mark this past Christmas, Ros na Rún's characters and its unfolding plots have garnered a richness rare except for great television. And generously, TG4.tv provides the show to an international audience saor in aisce--free--24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The success of the show is due to the writers' attention to nuanced story-lines that are thought through and performed by a wonderfully large--community-sized--cast with feeling and exceptional acting. It is a type of long-term theater that is saying so much more than normal soap opera.

There is no summary of where we're at in the series worthy of it. One just has to dive into Ros na Rún--the Headland of Secrets--head first, with a determination to hear what these Irish people are saying about life, about business, about sex, about the future in the music of our culture's native language. The subtitles are for first viewings--you can watch them as often as you like. Synge would have given his left arm for the ease of access available to us all now.

Ros na Rún appears on the world wide stage for anyone in the Irish-loving diaspora to sit down and watch like a night at the Abbey every Tuesday and Thursday and then on Sunday in omnibus or ollchlár.

Newcomers to the global community of Ros na Rún can get started by going to www.tg4.tv. On the left hand-side of the television screen that pops up are cartlann, or archives for cúla (kids' tv), ceol (music tv), spórt, faisnéise (documentary channel), dráma, cúrsaí reatha (news), siamsaíocht (brain candy), cláir eile (all sorts of interesting programs--seriously amazing stuff).

Of all the choices above, go to dráma. In there you'll see a stack of programs, one on top of the other. Ros na Rún episodes are labeled by date, but you have to catch them while they're hot, because this is a living station, the programs are only up for a short time. It's an event and you have to tune in.

Sometimes when you hit tg4.tv, it's live, and what's on the TV in Ireland in Irish, is streaming live on tg4.tv. Sometimes the live channel is just the day's TV guide. You can catch up on passed episodes in the archives if the station isn't broadcasting live when you tune in.

Ros na Rún episodes are mixed in with other drámaí like Na Cloigne and Seacht which are brilliant but don't have the Ireland-in-microcosm feel that Ros na Rún does better than any other program on Irish or British TV by light years.

Click on Ros na Rún, episode 21/1/10, which aired across the web yesterday. It's a half hour with commercials at the beginning, middle and end. I've watched all the commercials and I especially appreciate Chef sauce, Carlsberg, the tourist board of the nation of Turkey, Avonmore and others that use the Irish language in their commercials to sell their products. I also have the option to fast forward through the commercials.

I've heard complaints about tg4.tv not working on some computers, which is to say the user has not downloaded the latest version of whatever excellent quality video software tg4.tv uses. So make sure you do that.

It's impossible just to catch you up on who's who and doing what to whom in the 21/1/10 episode with any justice to the 1000 episodes preceding. Rosnarun.com can help. The show unfolds in a beautiful life-like pace. We get glimpses of where characters are with their own life dramas in miniature while developing this great sense of being in on the secrets of Ros na Rún. Ros an Rún is reason enough to learn Irish.

Things happen in all sorts of locations, but a very important one is the Cúlchaint Café that is owned by Berní played by the classically beautiful Fionnuala Ní Fhlatharta. Cúlchaint is the onomatopoeic Irish word for gossip, and considering Lady Gregory's story on the matter, it is the best place to discover the Celtic-knot-like secrets of Irish community and its drama.

In the 21/1/10 episode that aired yesterday, you'll meet Berní handcuffed to the ever clever Donegal man John Joe Daly. The two are stuck together after Mack's meddling, had to sleep together, and the whole thing gets translated in the busy mind of Máire into something much more salacious.

Find out more about Máire. Go back to earlier episodes and follow the story of the American come home to Ros na Rún with news of Máire's mother in Florida--and just get in on what's going to be brilliant TV between Máire and Sibeal, you can just feel it coming. I love the American character Sibeal Goldstein and her flirtations with Cóilín. Watch the 29/12/09 episode and meet her, and meet the Ó Catháin brothers--just do yourself that favor.

As I was whispering to your ear a paragraph ago, beautiful Berni and John Joe Daly slept together last night and needed a locksmith for the handcuffs the next morning, and everyone soon knows all about what never happened. Not everything is so absurd as this in Ros na Rún.

Hilarious in his own furious way is Tadhg Mór who owns another of the businesses in town. The show is heavy on business strategy--from modern marketing strategies to more retail issues of poitín distribution--the characters have for surviving. His in-laws are in for the wedding between he and Frances the younger mother of his child. He can be a right bollox, and he's at war with the father-in-law for bringing fruity cocktails into his pub. The mother-in-law wants a big splendid wedding--no purple dress, and she's pressing Frances to run off with her ex the younger journalist who showed up.

Tadhg has more to worry about than cocktails, however, because now Mícheál is waking up from a long nightmare, and has been for many episodes now, following last season's happenings with the death of Pauline. And what he's remembering sends him raging at Tadhg, whom he knocks on his arse in a moment many many people in town would have paid big money to see, but we all saw it. Mícheál seems to remember Tadhg attacking him with an iron bar, but is grappling to remember what happened. Let's not jump to conclusions.

Except maybe about another kind of a bollox like Tadhg--Berní's competitor--Daniel who owns the Spanish-themed restaurant named for Barcelona's great visionary of Catalan aesthetic--Gaudí--a fan, as comedian Dara Ó Briain, of his síneadh fada. Daniel is anything but visionary, that title goes to Caomhán, the genius chef who jumped ship to help Berní build Cúlchaint. His girlfriend Mo is stuck at Gaudí with Daniel's obnoxiousness. You'll get a taste of Daniel's character in this 21/1/10 episode.

In it, Daniel meets Ríona with her baby and Jason, and you'll see the contemptuous way he talks to her. She's been afraid to show her face in town following her arrest. She's embroiled in an absolute thriller of a murder investigation, which left the father of her child dead on the floor, his throat slit cluas go chluas-ear to ear. Her brother Donncha and her sister Róise and herself are suspects being watched by Detective O'Shea for the murder of O'Dowd a drug dealer who had it coming, lots of us would say.

But that's the big hook story--the real glory of the show is in the everyday gossip. Get in on the cúlchaint Tuesday, Thursday and ollchlár on Sunday. You can catch up on a dozen or so episodes from the past few months, but catch them quick before the cartlann is updated with new episodes.

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