By Rebecca Black, PA
There was excitement tinged with a touch of sadness as the stars of Derry Girls walked the red carpet in the city that inspired the drama for the final time.
The Omniplex in the heart of the city was transformed as Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell and writer Lisa McGee attended the premiere of the third and last season of the coming-of-age drama.
It was an emotional final farewell to the roles of Erin, Claire, Michelle, Orla and “the wee English fella” who exploded on to our screens in 2018 and went on to become a worldwide hit.
The stars have even been immortalised in a mural on a gable wall in Derry.
However, a reprisal of the story, potentially in a movie, has not been ruled out.
McGee mused: “Who knows what could happen in the Derry Girls universe.”
She told the PA news agency: “It’s been six years of my life, and I’ve loved it, it’s been very good to me, but we are very tired and need a holiday.
“This has been like saying goodbye, but it’s not often you get to do exactly what you wanted to do.”
Looking back at the impact the show had, McGee described her pinch-me moment as when Derry Girls was referenced in The Simpsons.
“I was a big Simpsons fan in the 90s, so it blew my mind, I can’t believe that happened. That and the mural (in Derry) were my two moments,” she said.
The story follows a group of teenagers growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, around the time of the IRA and loyalist ceasefires.
While the Troubles was an inescapable backdrop, the micro-dramas of teenagers navigating their parents, parties, love interests and school captured the attention of audiences far beyond Irish shores.
O’Donnell, who is from Derry, said she feels really proud, and lucky to have got the part of Michelle.
“The fact that it has been received so well, such an honest portrayal of Derry, is something I’m really proud of,” she said.
Jackson, who played the lead role of Erin, said her character will always stay with her.
“It’s incredibly surreal to think this is the final chapter, I was very reflective this morning thinking about my first ever audition for Derry Girls and that moment of meeting the girls for the first time. It feels very full circle now,” she said.
“The show is something I’m so incredibly proud of, it’s very humbling, and I’m so proud of Lisa.
“I’ll also never have another job where I’m doing a premiere that my whole family can come along to, it’s very special.”
Commenting on the famous Derry accent that has in the past seen subtitles being used for stars such as Nadine Coyle, Ms Jackson added: “I don’t think they ever did need the subtitles, I think if you want to hear what we’re saying, just listen a wee bit harder.”