TG4 TV Series, Episode 3 of Inis na nIontas with Ardal O’ Hanlon and Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley
In 2023 we were approached by Aisling ni Fleatharta of One Tribe TV, who were planning a documentary on Ireland’s Islands for TG4. They were looking for IWDG to contribute to this series which was being presented by actor and comedian Ardal O’ Hanlon. They hoped to film whales and dolphins in West Cork which fitted in with their covering the west Cork islands of Garnish, Sherkin and Cape Clear.
As is often the case with “presenter led” productions, it is rarely possible to simply shoot cetaceans at either the best time or location, as there are so many other logistical considerations…..namely the lack of availability of the presenter, who at any one time is invariably working on a plethera of other shoots, as was the case in 2023, when west Cork was brimming with cetaceans, both large and small during April and May. Alas, by the time the film unit had moved down to the southwest, the weather had broken, our humpback whales had taken up station in the Northwest, the few fin whales had disappeared and even the ever present minkes that are often seen in double digit numbers down here, were all but gone!
So we venured out on the MV Holly Jo from Baltimore harbour on the the best day of a bad lot, with a mixed weather window….not good, but as good as we were going to get! The bigger problem was that the whales were simply not there and so our expectations were low. Over the next few ours I chatted to presenter Ardal O’ Hanlon about whales, the work of the IWDG, what attracts cetaceans to the area, how we can find them and of course our concerns about important issues such as industrial fishing for sprat and forage fish in general.
As is often the case on these film shoots, success came right down to the wire and it was really only when returning back towards Baltimore Beacon that we picked up an obliging group of around 30 foraging common dolphins that gave Ardal material to wax lyrical about. The rest of the fin whale footage is down to clever editing and mixing previously filmed material. But that’s ok, as such is the way these series are made. You can only work with what you have, and what you haven’t got, you can always cobble together!
But we hope you enjoy it. Ardal has a nice light touch and as always TG4 lead the way in making homegrown Irish documentaries. The IWDG contribution kicks in a minute 21-27, but it’s well worth watching the whole episode if you have even a passing interest in both the people and wildlife of Ireland’s Southwest.
Pádraig Whooley, Sightings Officer, IWDG