It was the Barrytown book and film that captured the madness of Italia 90 in Ireland but also touched on more serious themes of midlife crisis and unemployment.

The Van was the story of Larry and Brendan, two men who lose their jobs but win back their pride after they put a burger van on the road as Ireland scales unimaginable heights at the World Cup. It's a story of football, friendship, fallings out, deep-fried nappies, and chips. Lots of chips.

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You can relive the magic of The Van in tonight’s final episode of Return to Barrytown, the RTÉ series charting the genesis and impact of Roddy Doyle’s much-loved Barrytown Trilogy, which also included The Commitments and The Snapper.

The book was published in 1991 and was made into a film in 1995 by Stephen Frears, who’d already had huge success with The Snapper three years previously.

Roddy Doyle and Colm Meaney

Starring Barrytown stalwart Colm Meaney as Larry and Donal O’Kelly as Brendan "Bimbo" Reeves, The Van was shot in and around the Dublin suburb of Kilbarrack during the hottest summer on record and actress Neilí Conroy, who was just 18 when she played Larry’s daughter Diane, still treasures her memories of working on the film.

"It was a very exciting time and all the locals were delighted," she says, "That was the third film in the Barrytown trilogy so I suppose they had ownership over it since The Snapper because they had the experience of it. It was their film really. It’s been brilliant to relive it all on Back to Barrytown."

Colm Meaney returns to explore the world of The Van on tonight’s Back to Barrytown and as well as Neilí, there’ are also contributions from Kilbarrack locals and extras, Frears, actress Ger Ryan, and Brendan O’Carroll, who made his film debut on The Van.

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However, the film is often seen as the least successful and least popular of the Barrytown Trilogy. It’s certainly not short on laughs but as Frears remarks on Sunday night’s show, Roddy Doyle was changing as a writer.

"The Commitments had the music which gave it real magic and for a lot of us we knew that music, but the film gave us an education in it and we all just loved it," says Neilí, who currently plays Sharon Collins on Fair City.

Roddy Doyle

"The Snapper, with the teenager pregnancy, that was quite a common subject at the time so you could relate to that as well. The Van was more about two older men, so I don’t know if it had the feel of the other two films."

"However," she adds, "We did have the World Cup, Italia 90, and that was magic. It was the first time I’d experienced that collective camaraderie and the whole country getting behind a team. It was our first time going to the World Cup, so I was a monumental moment in our history. We gained confidence as a country."

Neilí (right) on Fair City

Neilí comes from an acting family and she grew up in North Wall in Dublin but has lived in Kilbarrack itself for the last three years. After getting her break in Roddy Doyle’s Family as a teenager, she went on to appear in The Van, Intermission, Nora, Kisses and The General, and Love/Hate.

Asked what impact The Van had on her career, she says, "It was great to be able to be part of the Barrytown Trilogy but life is funny, I had a baby just as The Van was coming out. She’s 24 now.

"The timing wasn’t there. I don’t know what the film did for my career, really. I just keep trucking on, trying to get the work in whatever I can. In theatre and whatever I can get basically.

"I couldn’t say I got this part or that part after I was in The Van because after The Van, I had a baby and I was doing that. That was my focus. It’s great to be part of that trilogy, they are very iconic, The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van and that time in Ireland is so unique.

And, no, Neilí didn’t eat the burgers and chips being dished out by Larry and Brendan. "I did not, she laughs. "You get fed well on film sets."

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2

Back To Barrytown: The Van, RTÉ One, Sunday, 9.30pm.