The Craggy Island Parish Magazines is a book tie-in to the 1990s television programme, ‘Father Ted’. As the title suggests, it is styled as a collection of Parish Newsletters, written by Father Ted Crilly himself. Along with editorials from Father Ted and several guest columns by Mrs. Doyle are collected articles about such topics as the history of Craggy Island and (so-called) Great Priests.
As a big fan of the television series, I first read The Craggy Island Parish Magazines in the early 2000s. I wasn’t hugely excited by it but, upon discovering it on ebay earlier this year, decided to give it a second go.
The book begins well. Ted’s voice is strong and perfectly in keeping with his television persona. The concept is clever, too, and the early articles about the history of Craggy Island are just bizarre enough to feel like the true history of this fictional place. However, the reading experience dulls as the book progresses. Repeated inclusions, such as Jim Sullivan’s sketches, soon tire, and the second half of the book feels less like a true tie-in and more like a collection of odd writings. (‘The Miraculous Power of Eggs’ is a key example.)
Most of all, though, the book suffers from a lack of content involving the fantastic characters that make the television show what it is. Ted is there, certainly, but there are only a few mentions of Jack and Dougal. Bishop Brennan gets one tiny post-script.
I love a good TV tie-in, but The Craggy Island Parish Magazines left me wanting something more. It’s a pleasant enough way of spending an hour or so, but a couple of episodes of the original programme would be a better choice.