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Fantasy Ireland: An Irish Adult Animated Comedy


Ireland's animation industry is booming. The Emerald Isle's animation sector punches well above its weight, and is just as healthy (if not more so) as that of its larger neighbour across the Irish sea. Kilkenny's Cartoon Saloon is their most successful export by far, having three Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature under its belt, with a fourth likely for Wolfwalkers next year. The industry may be growing but Ireland itself remains a small market, so much of the animation produced there is for international release Many Irish studios produce animation for overseas companies like Cartoon Network, The BBC, Nickelodeon and Disney. But there is still Irish animation intended for an Irish audience being produced- the vast majority of which is aimed at children.

A notable exception is the adult animated comedy Fantasy Ireland, produced by Dublin-based Igloo Animation. Igloo was established in 2008 by director Trevor Courtney, and its other productions include Old Irish Tales and Grandma's Wild Garden.


Fantasy Ireland is a 13-episode 11-minute series that was broadcast on RTE2.  It takes place in (as the name suggests) a fantasy spin on contemporary Ireland. Creator Courtney described it as an attempt to cross  Seinfield and Clash Of The Titans. Its unlikely heroes are three ordinary flatmates who somehow have come together to form secret government taskforce the Shamz (as in shamrock), to protect Ireland from the otherworldly. They come up against Father Murphy, a villainous priest who wants to turn Ireland back to "its old god-fearing ways" and his evil Leprechaun sidekick Flatley, who is after the country's gold. To enact his dastardly plan, he summons various monsters with The Book Of Boris.

In the episode we saw, Fr Murphy created the Salmon Of Knowledge, an all-knowing giant fish who wants to steal the knowledge of Ireland's best minds. To do this, he abducts Ireland's top celebrities and steals their brains to feed the fish. Soon he has kidnapped "all of Ireland's best minds... and Bono"... and it's up to the Shamz to save the day!

The series has a distinctly Irish flavour, with a witty script from Ciaran Morrison and Mick O'Hara, the writing team best known for puppet duo Zig and Zag who made a splash in the UK and Ireland in the 90s. Most of the celebrities and public figures parodied are known outside of Ireland and there are not too many Cultural references that will go over the head of non-Irish viewers. 


It also doesn't go too over the top in its adult nature. Too many adult cartoons think they have to go over the top in crudeness and effing and jeffing to justify being adult animation. Fortunately, Fantasy Ireland is not like this.

A labour of love, the series was in development for 10 years. After funding was secured, the show went intro production in August 2019. The series was produced entirely in-house at Igloo and was produced for just €4.5k a minute. Everything was going swimmingly until March of 2020, when Ireland, like so many other countries, went into lockdown, with four episodes still to produce.

Fortunately, animation is better suited to whether this situation than other media, so the team quickly adapted. Continuing to work from their homes, they found it went pretty smoothly. The trickiest part was the voice recordings- which normally require people to be in closer proximity. With the aid of a portable audio booth and a bit of thinking outside the box, they were able to complete production and meet their deadline.

Fantasy Ireland is a brilliant series that shows a whole different side to Irish animation. It deserves to be seen by viewers outside of its home country- we hope that this happens sooner rather than later. After watching just one episode, we're hooked and want more! It must be for the Craic.

Fantasy Ireland_Trailer from Igloo Animations on Vimeo.


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