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Derry Girls: Top 10 tearjerker moments as the series comes to an end

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Clare Devlin came out to her friends in season one

Clare Devlin came out to her friends in season one

Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) found out her father passed away in the series three finale

Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) found out her father passed away in the series three finale

Grandad Joe (Ian McElhinney) found his razor thanks to a message from his late wife

Grandad Joe (Ian McElhinney) found his razor thanks to a message from his late wife

Season one ended on a heartbreaking moment when news came through a bomb had exploded

Season one ended on a heartbreaking moment when news came through a bomb had exploded

This scene in season two was based around the 1995 Derry visit of US president Bill Clinton (Credit: Margaret McLaughlin)

This scene in season two was based around the 1995 Derry visit of US president Bill Clinton (Credit: Margaret McLaughlin)

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Clare Devlin came out to her friends in season one

With the series three finale of Derry Girls ending with a sudden and heartbreaking loss for one of the gang, writer Lisa McGee has once again shown her talent for creating moving moments alongside the laughs.

Ahead of a one-hour special and the last ever episode of the Channel 4 comedy on Wednesday night, the Belfast Telegraph looks at the top 10 tear-jerking moments from Derry Girls.

The family are stunned by the news of a bomb attack

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Season one ended on a heartbreaking moment when news came through a bomb had exploded

Season one ended on a heartbreaking moment when news came through a bomb had exploded

Season one ended on a heartbreaking moment when news came through a bomb had exploded

While the sitcom is set during the end of the Troubles in the 1990s, a key theme of Derry Girls has been that normal life for teenagers continued even during the worst days of the conflict.

This was captured in the powerful finale of series one, which contrasted a scene with the girls dancing happily on stage at school while their parents and Grandpa Joe (Ian McElhinney) watch in disbelief at the news of a fatal bombing.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Lisa McGee said at the time it was important to show both sides.

“I thought if I’m going to do this show and show this side of things, I have to at some point show that there were times when it floored you,” she said.

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“I thought, I’ll probably do that at the end because it wasn’t a joke either.

“I had a nod to that, there were lots of mundane bomb scares and things like Orange Order parades, where you had to change how you might go about your journey.

“There were lots of day-to-day things that were funny, but occasionally there was something big like Omagh, that the whole nation went ‘this just has to change’ and I think, I wanted to mix that in with this 'life goes on' thing. It had to be at the end.”

Clare’s dad dies

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Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) found out her father passed away in the series three finale

Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) found out her father passed away in the series three finale

Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) found out her father passed away in the series three finale

Tuesday night’s series three finale also finished with an unexpected sombre note, with Da Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) breaking the news to Clare (Nicola Coughlan) that her father had suffered an aneurysm.

With the girls having just been kicked out of a wild night at a Fatboy Slim concert, where Clare even had her first kiss, the scene is played powerfully with the pained look on Tiernan’s face letting the audience know the worst has happened before a word is spoken.

James saves the day at Erin’s prom

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James Maguire (Dylan Llewwllyn)

James Maguire (Dylan Llewwllyn)

James Maguire (Dylan Llewwllyn)

While the background of the Troubles is never far away in Derry Girls, the ups and downs of teenage life are always centre stage.

Giving a very strong hint of things to come, the wee English fella James (Dylan Llewellyn) saves the day for Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) when she is stood up for a 1950s prom at her school.

Returning early wearing a Dr Who scarf from what Erin calls his “creep convention,” James arrives just in time to avert disaster in a heart warming scene.

Clare comes out

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(L-R) Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson)

(L-R) Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson)

(L-R) Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson)

In series one, Erin finds herself in desperate need of a story for the school magazine when she publishes an anonymous letter from a student under the headline, “The secret life of a lesbian”

When Clare confides that she is in fact “the wee lesbian”, Erin’s first reaction is one of disgust and even tells her to take it back.

The friends quickly reconcile as they save Orla (Louisa Harland) from ridicule as she performs a bizarre step aerobics routine on stage at school.

Ma Mary’s ‘affair’

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Damien Molony as Gabriel the plumber

Damien Molony as Gabriel the plumber

Damien Molony as Gabriel the plumber

When Ma Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill) becomes suspected of having an affair with a hunky plumber, things reach a breaking point when Erin storms off stage during a Spice Girls performance in school.

When confronted in front of the family, she reveals the truth that she is actually trying to fulfil her dream of going to university.

“I didn’t say anything because the idea that somebody like me could go back to school… it didn’t seem possible,” she said.

Da Gerry’s promise to “make it real” provides a touching moment before Grandpa Joe brings back the laughs with a typically abrupt putdown.

‘I’ll wait’ — Erin and James’ first kiss

After sharing their unexpected first kiss in a haunted house in Donegal, Erin and James’ new found romance is quickly stamped out by a furious Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell).

Unwilling to tolerate a breakup between her best friend and cousin, Michelle makes it clear nothing can happen.

A quiet moment as the gang leave the house sees Erin tell James it can’t happen, but he simply tells her “I’ll wait”.

Grandpa Joe finds the red box

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Grandad Joe (Ian McElhinney) found his razor thanks to a message from his late wife

Grandad Joe (Ian McElhinney) found his razor thanks to a message from his late wife

Grandad Joe (Ian McElhinney) found his razor thanks to a message from his late wife

While presenting himself as the hard man of the family, Grandpa Joe often steals the show when he reveals a rare glimpse of vulnerability.

A widow for ten years, he struggles with the fact there’s been no communication from beyond the grave from his wife and that he still can’t find his long-lost razor.

After attending a bizarre session with a psychic medium, he’s informed to be on the look out for a red box.

The episode ends with him finding his razor under the sink in a red box, and some long-awaited closure, in a scene that left many viewers welling up.

‘I am a Derry Girl’

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This scene in season two was based around the 1995 Derry visit of US president Bill Clinton (Credit: Margaret McLaughlin)

This scene in season two was based around the 1995 Derry visit of US president Bill Clinton (Credit: Margaret McLaughlin)

This scene in season two was based around the 1995 Derry visit of US president Bill Clinton (Credit: Margaret McLaughlin)

In the series two finale, James makes the difficult decision to return to London with his self-absorbed mother.

It’s a devastating blow for the rest of the Derry Girls, who vent their anger as the city is swept up in the visit of then US president Bill Clinton.

Changing his mind at the last minute, James appears on the Derry walls at Guildhall Square and proclaims: “I am a Derry girl.”

The girls escape to a Take That concert


When Take That come to Belfast, the girls are forbidden from going after news of a polar bear escaping from Belfast Zoo.

Breaking the rules and trying to make it to Belfast with a suitcase of vodka, the girls eventually make it to the front row of the concert.

Despite fury from their mothers, there’s a proud smile from Da Gerry as he spots them on TV having the time of their lives.

The cream horn and Grandpa Joe’s new romance

Grandpa Joe’s attempt to have a private life doesn’t last long, after he’s interrogated about being spotted buying a cream horn at the local bakery.

His affronted daughters, Ma Mary and Aunt Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke) soon discover he has a new love interest in Maeve.

After finally introducing her to the family, Ma Mary declares: “We’ll never call you mammy”.

Letting Grandpa Joe down gently, Maeve later tells him: “Your girls, they’re just not ready Joe.”


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