Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

St Patrick's Day treat for Simpsons fans

The Simpsons are on their way to Dublin for a St Patrick's Day special
The Simpsons have travelled to Dublin for a St Patrick's Day special

Fans of The Simpsons have been treated to a St Patrick's Day episode of the hit cartoon series.

It was shown on Sky1 ahead of its broadcast on US network Fox, the first time an episode has premiered on this side of the Atlantic in the show's 20-year history.

The episode, called In the Name of the Grandfather, shows the cartoon family making the journey from Springfield to Ireland on a Derry Air plane.

Marge and the children visit famous landmarks including the Giant's Causeway, the Blarney Stone and Guinness brewery, while Homer and his father end up buying a pub.

Nancy Cartwright
Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart, was a guest of honour at the Dublin parade
The landlord of the pub is played by Colm Meaney, while there are also cameo roles for Oscar winners Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová of the surprise hit Irish film Once.

The Simpsons' executive producers, Al Jean and James L Brooks, and Nancy Cartwright, who voices Bart and other characters, travelled to Ireland for an exclusive screening of the episode.

"Homer and Grandpa get drunk," said Al Jean.

"They buy the bar and then they find, as it turns out, in Ireland, pubs aren't so popular anymore because you can't smoke in them. So they're really up a creek."

As the Simpsons come to terms with the new hi-tech Ireland - home to Hewlett Fitzpackard and Mickrosoft - the bar struggles to attract customers, leading Homer to lament that "the Irish have become hard-working and sober".

Irish characters have regularly featured in The Simpsons.

A whole episode was devoted to U2, but the most controversial was an episode set on St Patrick's Day when celebrations in Springfield turned nasty as an Irish parade encountered an Orange march.

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