Pat Shortt's new drama explores how families deal with emigration and cancer

Shortt said he thinks Smalltown will create the ‘water-cooler chat’ that TV series such as Love/Hate and Charlie have in the past.

Tv3 Pat Shortt 14 Pat Shortt (Tom) & Charlie Kelly (Conor) Brian McEvoy Brian McEvoy

SMALLTOWN TELLS THE story of Conor, a man in his 20s who emigrates from rural Ireland to London in search of more opportunities.

Years later, his mother becomes sick and he returns home but a lot has changed. It’s a development many people will be able to relate to.

Gerard Barrett wrote and directed Smalltown – which will air on TV3 over three weeks, starting tomorrow night. He previously worked on Glassland and Pilgrim Hill.

Barrett’s from Listowel in Co Kerry and told he wanted to write characters and scenarios that people from rural Ireland could relate to.

“The reason I wanted to make it was that – I am from rural Ireland – so that we could see ourselves on screen with issues and problems that I see in my community on prime time television, and I think it’s important that people see themselves on screen.

“I think years ago we had the Riordans and Glenroe and these were a great vehicle for audiences in rural Ireland to see themselves.

The show is about a family in crisis in rural Ireland. They live on a farm … one of the sons is kind of stuck in a rut. The mom and dad break their own hearts to tell him get out of there and start a life for himself.

“He goes to London. It cuts to a couple of years later and he comes home and he’s got to deal with the mom being sick and how the family deal with that.

It’s got themes of emigration, isolation, loneliness, rural Ireland and cancer and dealing with a sick parent and parental loss and spousal loss. There’s a lot going on.

Barrett said the father (Tom), played by Pat Shortt, “tries to keep them all together”.

‘The Ireland I know’

Shortt told us the script struck a chord with him, saying: “It was very of the Ireland of now and of the Ireland that I knew and not of something of the past, so it was great to work on that.”

Shortt has been balancing comedic and more serious roles for some time now. The former Killinaskully actor gave a stellar performance in 2007′s much-acclaimed Garage, which also dealt with issues of rural isolation.

Shortt said he thinks Smalltown will create the ‘water-cooler chat’ that TV series such as Love/Hate and Charlie have in the past.

I don’t think [the conversation is] going to be so much about rural issues. I think it’s going to be about family issues, things that touch people in Ireland. You could be living in the middle of Dublin affected by cancer, affected by emigration or both – where you’ve got somebody away who has to come back for some dilemma.

Barrett said he hopes the show will lead to loved ones talking about important issues.

“I really hope that the conversation happens over the kitchen table because it’s more internal, it’s more family-based.”

Smalltown will begin on TV3 at 10pm on Thursday.

Read: TV3 nabs Pat Kenny for current affairs show – and everything else you need to know about its new schedule

Read: ‘The first Irish casualty of Brexit’: 60 jobs lost in Tipperary as mushroom factory closes

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