Published Monday, 29 October 2012
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I hope it didn't come across in the programme but I remember feeling distinctly unwell when we started filming in Donaghmore...

Nothing terribly serious, thank goodness, just a bad bout of "man-flu", but those of us who suffer regularly from this ailment will recognise immediately the brave front I'm putting up here.

The first thing we filmed was the piece with Patricia Bogue in the old school-turned-library which really wasn't much warmer than it would have been over a hundred years ago when the teacher would have hogged the fire and the pupils in the back row would have been blowing their fingers and stamping their feet.

I think Patricia was quite alarmed at the shivering wreck who presented himself to talk to her about the Donaghmore Soap Works and who couldn't even hold up the precious photographs of Ballymaclinton taken back in 1908, without trembling like an aspen leaf (I've never seen one myself but apparently they've set the standard for trembling in the natural world).

Anyway, Patricia was no stranger to the worst effects of "man-flu", having witnessed it on a number of harrowing occasions among her male relatives, and immediately sat me beside the mobile electric radiator with a warming cup of something or other.

Even then I could not hold the photographs still and Vinny the cameraman was having a torrid time trying to keep them in focus, so much so that somebody else had to hold them pretending to be me.

Patricia, of course, did a sterling job telling the fascinating story of Brown's Soapworks and the all-but-forgotten, extraordinary tale of the mythical village of Ballymaclinton which, when you think of it, probably established a whole range of Irish stereotypes in the popular imagination of the day.

But she had to do so without much help from me, I'm afraid. She even had to break off every now and then to ascertain the true state of my suffering and offer soothing words of comfort and encouragement. Indeed, as soon as the recording was over she admonished the rest of the crew for their heartless dismissal of my symptoms and their ruthless determination to stick to that pitiless tradition "the show must go on".

She also insisted that I take myself off to the hotel and put myself to bed immediately with a hot toddy. This advice I followed with immediate beneficial effect.

So I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Patricia for doing both our jobs and also to point out that I do not wear nail-varnish.

That was Orlagh holding the photographs for the camera.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
H.Campbell in UK wrote (818 days ago):
Another great show from Joe. His laid back way is a joy to watch - introduce your guest and step back and allow them to relate their stories. i was amazed that the citizens of Donaghmore would allow an ancient Cross to be ravaged by the elements until it will eventually disappear. Surely better to build a glass /concrete enclosure around it so it may still be viewed but kept safe for coming generations. All too often presenters forget that it is not them specifically that viewers want to see/hear, but Joe has a knack of knowing when to let storytellers get on with the show.
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Joe Mahon
Joe Mahon

Joe Mahon is the presenter of UTV's long-running series Lesser Spotted Ulster.

He is a man who has seen more of the nooks and crannies of the Ulster countryside than anyone else.

His travels for the show have seen him cross land and sea finding the hidden histories of the local landscape.

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