Comedian Gallagher is transformed for film on notorious cocaine seizure

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Comedian Gallagher is transformed for film on notorious cocaine seizure

One of Ireland’s biggest ever cocaine seizures is the inspiration behind a new crime comedy coming to our screens later this year.

Our exclusive images show comedian PJ Gallagher – better known for his Naked Camera portrayals of Jake Stevens and Dirty Aul’ Wan – donning a beard and a bald patch to play a bungling gangster in new Irish movie The Young Offenders.

It’s the first film from Peter Foott – who famously directed The Rubberbandits’ Horse Outside video. He came up with the idea after reading about the notorious case of a coke seizure in West Cork.

In 2007, an attempt to traffic €440million worth of cocaine failed off Mizen Head, when one of the gang put diesel instead of petrol into the motor, causing the engine to cut and the boat to later capsize.

It meant that 62 bales of cocaine ended up in the water, making it the biggest-ever seizure at that time. The movie takes that idea as a starting point for the film, which is fictional, about two teens who try to grab some of the drugs for themselves to make a fortune. 

Foott – also known for his work on TV shows The Fear and Republic of Telly – felt it would make a great basis for a crime comedy, and it is already being dubbed Cork’s answer to Trainspotting.

 “It’s not the story of the haul, but a standalone comedy inspired by it,” said a movie insider.

“It’s the story of two inner-city teenagers from Cork, Conor and Jock, who are uncatchable local bike thieves, much to the annoyance of a cop who is tracking them down.

“When they hear of a failed drug trafficking attempt in West Cork, where bales of cocaine worth millions have ended up in the sea, they steal some bikes and take a road trip.

“Their plan is to make the 160km journey and fish one of the bales out of the water, with their police rival in hot pursuit.”

Taking on his first major movie role, comic PJ Gallagher is almost unrecognisable as the gangster who falls foul of the two teenagers.

He spent hours in make-up getting his bald patch and grizzled look.

The movie also features actress and comedian and Hilary Rose, best known as Handy Sandie in Republic of Telly. Cork actors Chris Walley and Alex Murphy play the two notorious teenagers.

The movie – which is generating great early word of mouth – will be put on general release this autumn by top distribution company Wildcard.

The film was shot in several well-known Cork city landmarks, including Patrick’s Street and The English Market. The towns of Bandon, Schull and scenic spots like Three Castle Head all feature in the movie.