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Besom Productions

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The Return of Colmcille

Director/Producer: Margo Harkin
Executive Producers: Greg Sanderson for BBC4 and Deirdre Devlin for BBC Northern Ireland
Production Company: Besom Productions Ltd.
Broadcaster: Broadcast on 9 December 2013 at 10.45pm on BBC Northern Ireland and repeated on 4 January 2014 on BBC4 at 7.30pm


A 60 minute documentary BBC ONE Northern Ireland giving you the inside story of the midsummer hightlight of City of Culture 2013 when writer Frank Cottrell Boyce joins with the people of Derry-Londonderry to stage an epic confrontation on the River Foyle between the Loch Ness Monster and Colmcille.


'The Return of Colmcille' was, for the thousands of people gathered along the banks of the River Foyle, simply one of the most unforgettable moments of their lives and perhaps the stand-out moment of Derry~Londonderry's year as the UK City of Culture.

The excitement and sense of wonder as the Loch Ness Monster sailed into the city centre to confront his nemesis St Columba once again was the culmination of two days of colour, sound, dance and music which engulfed the whole city. But the story actually began on the Isle of Iona several weeks before where the small community of 14 children created the gift of a book which was ferried across the Irish Sea by a 12-man curragh, making the reverse journey's Derry's patron saint made 1,500 years ago.

Filmmaker Margo Harkin charted both that journey and the celebrations which followed on the banks of the Foyle on those two memorable summer days on June 8 and 9 and her film, The Return of Colmcille was screened on BBC 1 Northern Ireland on Monday 9 December at 10.35pm and on BBC 4 Sunday 4 January 2014 at 7.30pm.

Culture Company Chief Executive Shona McCarthy said: "I will never forget that magical moment when the Loch Ness Monster came down the River Foyle and the sheer excitement and enjoyment of the thousands of people who were there. None of them will ever forget what they saw that evening and it's a treat to be able to experience it all over again. Margo's wonderful film captures the sense of joy around the whole event in a really spectacular and moving way. And of course for the people that weren't able to be there, it's a chance to see for themselves one of the standout moments of 2013."

The film is narrated by the man who conceived the entire project, Frank Cottrell Boyce, and features contributions by Walk the Plank, the company which produced the show and were behind the incredible pyrotechnical showdown on the river. Producer and Director Margo Harkin said: "As soon as I heard that Frank Cottrell Boyce was coming to Derry to create the story of Colmcille for the city I knew it would be something special. There was only one chance to capture the mighty battle on the River Foyle with the Lough Ness Monster and I'm delighted to say it's all there in the film in glorious technicolour shot from every angle."

The film was part of the record of Derry~Londonderry City of Culture in 2013.

Domestic viewing copies available on DVD for £17 (inclusive of VAT) plus postage and packing. For Institutional rates and/or other teaching purposes, please contact Margo at