Boyle Co. Roscommon has been put on the map and it’s all thanks to funny man Chris O’Dowd. The IT Crowd and Bridesmaids star, who hails from the Co Roscommon town, certainly hasn’t forgotten about his roots. From his country accent to his Twitter name @BigBoyler, O’Dowd certainly isn’t lacking in hometown pride – a fact that’s solidified in his comedy series Moone Boy.
The sitcom, which O’Dowd co-writes and co-stars in, takes place in Boyle in the late 80s and early 90s. The series follows 11-year-old Martin Moone, described as “a small boy with a big imagination” who “is doing his best to survive life with his chaotic family.” Thankfully, Martin has a companion in Sean Murphy, his imaginary friend (played by O’Dowd).
Though Martin’s life might seem perfectly wacky, O’Dowd says that all the major storylines – including Martin’s desire to be an altar boy – are based on his own life growing up in Boyle. The whole town has happily gotten behind the show, with lots of locals cast as extras and businesses getting all nostalgic to resemble the Boyle of the 90s.
“It was just nice to go and give something back,” O’Dowd said ahead of the series premiere in September 2012. “I would be nothing if it wasn’t for the town where I grew up and the people who gave me my inspiration.”
As the first series concluded late last year, O'Dowd's father Séan also confirmed his son’s appreciation for Boyle, telling the Irish Examiner, “He was here a few weeks ago on the night of the transmission of the last episode of Moone Boy. It was one of those nights where we ended up talking until four in the morning that you can have with members of your family but that don't happen nearly often enough. We were recounting old days and, in the course of our conversation, he told me that he always loved Boyle – ever since he was a kid – and he always felt that he would love to write something about Boyle and that he would do something for Boyle but he never knew what it was going to be.”
O’Dowd’s tribute to his hometown has reached far beyond Roscommon, though. He has attracted guest stars like Steve Coogan and Johnny Vegas, already filmed a second series and is nominated in five categories at this weekend’s Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA). Plus, the red-black-and-white knit caps that Martin and Sean sport are on their way to becoming a full-fledged fashion trend.