Wanderly Wagon

Wanderly Wagon is an Irish children's television series which aired on RTÉ from Saturday 30 September 1967[1] until 1982.

Wanderly Wagon
Title card (1979)
GenreChildren's television
Created by
  • Eugene Lambert
  • Don Lennox
Voices ofFrank Kelly
Composer(s)Jim Doherty
Country of originIreland
  • John Lynch
  • Tom McArdle
Original networkRTÉ
Original release30 September 1967 
Related showsFortycoats & Co.


Wanderly Wagon followed human and puppet characters as they travelled around Ireland visiting interesting locations, rescuing Princesses and generally doing good. The original premise of the show expanded to follow the characters to magical lands of Irish mythology, and into outer space.

The Wagon itself could fly. Using chroma key special effects, the Wagon was shown hovering in midair, landing in various magical lands, and even traveling underwater.


  • Rory - originally the lead character. Played by stage actor Bill Golding. Golding left the series in its middle years.
  • O'Brien - a bumbler played by Eugene Lambert, who was also the puppeteer and ventriloquist for some of the animal characters. Other voices were provided by puppeteer members of the Lambert family.
  • Godmother - a sensible mother-figure played by Nora O'Mahoney.
  • Judge - a dog. He was the voice of reason and good sense, a moral conscience to the rest of them (he also starred in television road safety advertisements). To this day, Judge is held in great affection by people who remember him - many of whom can still sing his song, "I Am the Flying Dog"
  • Fortycoats - a gruff, bearded character in a costume made of ragged swatches of many different materials, he owned a flying sweetshop. An occasional character who later had an eponymous spin-off show. Originally played by Bill Golding and later by Fran Dempsey.
  • Mr Crow - a crow who lived in a cuckoo clock. Crow was a sarcastic fellow with a cutting sense of humour.
  • Foxy - a fox who lived in a barrel on the side of the wagon and spoke with an American gangster style accent.
  • Four moon mice who lived in the attic.
  • Doctor Astro, a recurring villain played by Frank Kelly
  • Sneaky Snake, Doctor Astro's sidekick, also voiced by Frank Kelly
  • Maeve the Witch, a mischievous witch, whose attempts at villainy always ended in failure
  • Squirrels, two squirrels who sounded remarkably like Bosco.



Don Lennox and Jim O'Hare came up with the idea of Wanderly Wagon when Lennox was giving O'Hare a lift home from work. O'Hare was recalling a recent family holiday spent on a horse drawn caravan in County Cork. Lennox became the first producer [1] of Wanderly Wagon and O'Hare designed the wagon, the flying Sweet shop and the show's costumes.


Various episodes were written by Neil Jordan, Carolyn Swift, Pat Ingoldsby, Martin Duffy and Frank Kelly, who also played several characters on the show.


The series developed a tradition of transmitting a Christmas Day show from a Dublin children's hospital every year. The original wagon used when filming the opening scenes of Wanderly wagon is on display in The Little Museum of Dublin[2] on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin.


The character of Fortycoats was given his own show, Fortycoats & Co., played by Fran Dempsey. In the show Fortycoats is accompanied by two companions; Sofar Sogood (played by Conal Kearney), a prim goody two shoes character, and Slightly Bonkers (played by Virginia Cole), a naive schoolgirl. They traveled in the Flying Tuck Shop doing good, and battling the evil Whilomena the Whirligig Witch and The Pickarooney.


  1. Hourihane, Anne Marie. Sunday Tribune. 11 August 2002.
  2. Little Museum site

Further reading

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