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When Biddy and Miley were lovers

The Times We Lived In: September 23rd, 1993. Photograph by Jack McManus

Such is the immediacy of this picture that it’s a bit of a shocker to discover that it was taken nearly 25 years ago. It shows the cast of Glenroe marking the return of a new series in September 1993. And if the very mention of Glenroe starts the theme tune going in your head, don’t panic – it’s not really Sunday night, and you don’t have to rush upstairs and get your homework done in time for school tomorrow.

It’s hard to imagine anybody getting excited about a new series of a soap these days. Soaps aren’t supposed to be exciting. They’re supposed to keep on keeping on. And they have been supplanted, in our ratings and in our hearts, by gritty drama series and Scandi noir.

It was a very different story in the autumn of 1993. When this lot raised their glasses and shouted “Cheers!”, the popularity of Glenroe was at its height. If its audience fell below a million on any given week, the show’s creator Wesley Burrowes would later write in The Irish Times, “it was a crisis”.

Glenroe ran for only 18 seasons, but it might as well have been going for ever. Even now, more than 15 years after its demise, the names are as familiar – Miley and Biddy, Mary and Dick, Dinny and Stephen – as the plotlines: magic mushrooms, shouting matches in the farmyard, romantic liaisons in the hayshed a priest who ran off with a Protestant.

Though there are many cast photos from Glenroe out there in cyberspace, none has the warmth and good cheer of this one. If you remember Glenroe with fondness, take a moment to see if you can spot your favourite character in the picture. If not, just enjoy the good cheer – while it lasts. Soaps aren’t noted for that either.

Arminta Wallace

These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, “The Times We Lived In”, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.