Joe Mahon is immediately recognisable on the airwaves for his light commentary filled with real marvel at Northern Eire’s unceasing surprises, whether or not it’s the uncooked fantastic thing about an deserted island, the invention of a bit of charming historical past, or the majesty of lush panorama.
His contagious, rhapsodic enthusiasm and heat conversational model creates a rapport with devoted viewers, who shall be delighted to study that the second collection of Mahon’s Means kicks off on Sunday night.
In fact, the self-effacing Londonderry man, wouldn’t be so daring as to recommend he’s the ‘star’ of the present, nonetheless, he’s a relatable and dependable presence on our screens.
“The programme isn’t about me, it’s in regards to the content material,” he says, talking from Donegal, the place he’s on vacation along with his household.
“However I feel I’m a trusted form of information. If I’m going to say one thing, I hope I’ve bought my details proper. Our material, historical past and archeology and geology, heritage, wants a little bit of explaining and a little bit of contextualising background.”
Now 71, he provides: “I suppose now that I’ve accrued knowledge, so to talk, I’m allowed to have opinions about issues,” he laughs.
However, if his fervour for a topic takes him off on a tangent, or if he begins to “prattle on a bit”, his son Patrick, the present’s producer, is there to rein him in.
“He’d generally say ‘you’re getting a wee bit Open College right here, otherwise you’re getting a bit difficult, simply maintain it easy’.
“We get on very effectively. We speak in regards to the programmes consistently. I’ve to respect his judgement as a result of he’s the producer and there’s occasions when he’ll inform me one thing is a bit tacky and he’s often proper. His style and his judgement might be nearer to the viewers.”
The brand new collection of Mahon’s Means as soon as once more sees Joe journey the size and breadth of Northern Eire (and generally a bit additional), exploring the wealthy veins of heritage, historical past and tradition which make this place so distinctive.
It has every little thing, historic townlands and castles; tales of trailblazing individuals who helped form so many locations; natural world of rivers and lakes; and historical past and tales behind poetry and songs. From Malin to Moneymore, Garvagh to Greyabbey and in every single place in between, Joe uncovers but extra fascinating tales of Northern Eire’s heritage.
The collection kicks off with Joe spending time on the Ards Peninsula at Portaferry. He finds out in regards to the discovery of an historic group that archaeologists can hint again 5,000 years, and likewise spends time in a fantastically restored Presbyterian church. Now a efficiency and exhibition centre and renamed the Portico of Ards, it additionally stays a spot of worship for the native Presbyterian congregation.
“We’re all around the Province once more, however what’s totally different in regards to the collection within the final couple of years is that I’ve found, late on in life, the benefits of drone images for aerial photographs.
“The primary present in Portaferry begins in a wee place referred to as Millin Bay over the opposite aspect of the Ards Peninsula.
“The rationale the drone was so helpful there was that if we had accomplished that previously, you couldn’t presumably say why it was strategically essential to have a giant settlement there 5,000 years in the past, however when you may have the drone it is available in from the ocean throughout the coast and you’ll see precisely why they put it the place it was as a result of it’s the very first thing you see whenever you come into the land.
“Senior archaeologist Liam McQuillan was displaying me the pictures of the unique excavation that was accomplished there within the Fifties they usually discovered this extraordinary show of human bones and skulls, not simply randomly buried, however buried in a really ceremonial method……5,000 years in the past, you’re speaking the time of the pyramids… sorry, I’m getting carried away, however I nonetheless discover it completely superb and thrilling..that’s like discovering one other mummy in a pyramid.”
It’s that sense of genuine child-like marvel which makes for televisual gold and provides balm for weary souls after we are swamped with a lot unhealthy information and maybe have had every week of slate-grey city drudgery on crowded buses and claustrophobic workplaces.
However Joe is eager to emphasize the exhibits aren’t meant to be pure escapism.
“It’s a nice privilege to have the ability to do these programmes, nevertheless it’s not one thing that you simply take calmly. The purpose is to provide folks one thing of worth to them. I hope this doesn’t sound terribly pompous, nevertheless it’s not simply half an hour of craic that’s forgettable, it’s actual substance, actual data that they’ll carry away with them. We’re the actual world, however we’re it in a lyrical method. So it’s not simply easy historical past or geography, or no matter, there’s additionally my private tackle it.
“I’m nonetheless studying on a regular basis, and I do know that seems like a horrible cliché, nevertheless it’s completely true. I learnt one thing new from every of the 14 programmes and I bought new insights that I merely didn’t have earlier than. That pleasure continues to be there. I feel that’s what retains you alive. I’m nonetheless moderately match and wholesome, so so long as I can stroll and speak and assume and climb (and sometimes fall down a sheugh), I’m grand.”
*The primary episode of Mahon’s Means is on Sunday, July 24 at 7pm on UTV and on atone for www.itv.com/utvprogrammes