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Ros na Rún celebrates 25th season as production wraps without any COVID stoppages
01 Mar 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Ros na Rún
On Friday, the production team behind Ros na Rún, Ireland’s only rural and Irish Language-based TV drama, wrapped filming without any COVID incidents on its milestone 25th season.

Filming of 82 episodes of the TG4 drama series over 24 successive weeks was completed without any stoppages during this unprecedented and historical COVID-19 Pandemic either on-screen or behind the scenes.

A fob-based tracking system from Limerick Company Tracworx was implemented amongst the entire cast and crew of Ros na Rún and was a huge part of the season’s successful filming in this COVID19 Pandemic. This achievement is also a testament to the commitment and professionalism of the cast, crew, and production team of 160 people at the purpose-built TV set in the Connemara Gaeltacht village of An Spidéal on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ros na Rún is a co-production between independent TV Production companies, EO Teilifís in Connemara and Dublin-based Tyrone Productions who introduced strict COVID-19 procedures from the start of filming last August. Wholeheartedly embraced by the cast and crew of the popular drama series, two actors whose highly emotive storylines for the season, involved closed contact on set, they decided to bubble up, rent an apartment together in An Spidéal for the duration of filming.

Donegal actor Pól Penrose who plays Colm decided to “bubble” up with his onscreen co-star Mo, played by Marie Bheag Bhreathnach. “Our storylines had us in close contact in every scene so we felt it made more sense and gave us peace of mind when filming, we felt safe and we felt our fellow actors and crew would be too, it certainly worked,” said actor Pól Penrose.

Reducing numbers on set and in scenes on a daily basis was a priority, for series producer Marion Ní Loingsigh when ensuring the safety of cast and crew. A 2-metre ruler to ensure social distance has become more familiar than Tadhg O’Direáin behind-the-scenes at Ros na Rún. While intensive daily and nightly sanitising and cleaning of sets by a dedicated cleaning company, coupled with the implementation of the highly effective Tracworx tracing system, all supported producers’ stringent efforts to keep Ros na Rún COVID Free for season 25.

Tracworx, based in Limerick and founded by Chris Kelly, Fionn Barron, and Eoin O'Brien in 2016, operates a track and trace solutions, which essentially helps companies track the movements of their onsite employees during the ongoing social distancing regulations of the Covid-19 pandemic. Essentially a dashboard traffic light system linked to a fob system, Producers and the production team could track and trace actor and crew movement on set at Ros na Rún and pre-empt a potential challenge, which might lead to stoppages.

Proving very effective when combined with the producer’s development of a brand-new Outside Broadcast facility, four additional Green Rooms, allocation of office spaces for production supports along with a one-way system on set, all of this supported the drive for safety on behalf of the cast and crew.

“We were extremely strict from day 1 of filming season 25 with COVID19 protocols,” says Marion Ní Loingsigh, Ros na Rún Series Producer. “We appointed three COVID officers to the production of this season and implemented all of the necessary guidelines, maintaining daily contact and reporting procedures with the HSE and HSA, PPE Equipment, sanitisation points, and mask-wearing but it was the proactive commitment of each cast and crew member and mutual respect amongst the entire team, which ensured that we successfully filmed an entire 82 episodes for season 25 without any COVID-19 stoppages or closures of the set and we’re extremely proud of this achievement. We had other celebration plans for season 25 but this is certainly momentous.”

On average 80 to 90 people were on this season’s set of Ros na Rún during the 24 weeks of filming, in comparison to season 24, which would have seen around 160 people on average.

Many departments worked from home including the highly talented scripting team who made a conscious decision at the outset not to feature COVID in the Ros na Rún Storylines. This decision proved extremely popular with Ros na Rún fans, as it gave great escapism and entertainment to viewers who are under such pressure in their daily lives during this pandemic.

However, there is no sign of stopping at Ros na Rún, as scriptwriters have already begun working on the stories for season 26, which will start filming in the Autumn. Strict COVID-19 procedures will remain on set at Ros na Rún as it finishes editing its 25th season, while fans wonder whether Mo and Colm will stay or leave Ros na Rún following Mo’s admittance of Frances' murder.

Ros na Rún will continue to be broadcast twice weekly on TG4 on Tuesday and Thursday at 8.30 pm with an omnibus on Sunday at 7.30 pm. It’s also available to view on TG4 and RTE player and viewers can catch up on season 24 on RTÉ One.

Click here for more information about the latest news, storylines, and updates from Ros na Rún.

Click here for more information about Tracworx.

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