Northern Ireland

Animal crackers: the Hollywood starlets down on a Tandragee farm

Boogaloo and Graham Image copyright Northern Ireland Screen
Image caption Boogaloo and Graham are the chicken stars of Michael Lennox's short film set in 1970s Belfast.

Oscar fever has a couple of chickens preening their feathers on a farm in County Armagh.

The beaks behind Boogaloo and Graham are practising to pick, pick, pick their way down the Hollywood red carpet after the Northern Ireland short film won a nomination for this year's awards.

You could say that farmer Kenny Gracey in Tandragee plays host to a whole cast of Hollywood hopefuls.

The Doctor Doolittle of Northern Ireland's film world has his own menagerie of movie star animals with a list of credits to their names.

Game of Thrones, Dracula, Robot Overloads, The Survivalist ... the Gracey clan have squawked, clucked and moo-ed their way through them all.

"I have goats, donkeys, deer, chicken, sheep, cattle and white pigeons," he said.

Image copyright other
Image caption Yanna, the baby deer, who has stolen Kenny's heart

Goats, Suzy, Kate and Abbey were regulars on the last series of Game of Thrones and Logan-Bishop, the Longhorn Bull, played sidekick to Natalie Portman in Your Highness.

A pair of white pigeons and a donkey called Joey have also lit up the silver screen in Game of Thrones.

"I have the old types of animals because of my interest in rare breeds," Mr Gracey said.

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Image caption Kenny Gracey with Logan-Bishop, the Longhorn bull, star of Your Highness

"They are very apt for older period films where an animal like a Charolais would look out of place. But a Longhorn would be right. So the animals have come into their own.

"And now, for some people, I'm the first port of call. If I haven't got it, I'll get it."

Animals have always been close to the farmer's heart.

He has a particular fondness for a wild red deer, Yanna, orphaned at just a day old.

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Image caption Joey the donkey is a Game of Thrones regular. His companion, Yanna's aunty, has since died

"She follows me around like a dog, in fact, she thinks she is one. She is very attached to me and was reared from a day old with a bottle. Our dog, a wolfhound called Hennessy, helped to look after her when she was a baby and they are very close.

"Now, people come to see her, they think it is amazing to see a wild animal so tame. Who ever gets to put a hand on a wild deer? It is amazing."

Meanwhile, beaks and claws are firmly crossed as Boogaloo and Graham wait to hear whether Oscar glory is theirs... Kenny Gracey is more than happy to accompany them to Hollywood, if he's needed.

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