30 January 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Proof of concept released for Irish TV Drama The Liberties
16 Jun 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Moe Dunford in The Liberties.
A new proof of concept has been released by 925 Productions for their period boxing drama, The Liberties.

Pegged as a crossover between Gangs of New York and Peaky Blinders, The Liberties is created by Pierce Ryan (Black ’47), Gary Duggan (Amber), and Brian Durnin who is an Irish commercials director working internationally. 

Set in early 19th century Dublin, the first series revolves around the boxer Dan Donnelly, who is played in the proof by Moe Dunford (The Dig, Rosie, Dublin Murders). Initial plans are in place for the series arc to unfold over three seasons.

“In developing THE LIBERTIES as a TV drama we are really interested in looking at a period of Irish history that is often overlooked,” Executive producer Laura McNicholas told IFTN when speaking about the Proof of Concept.

“Dublin in 1815 is dealing with the aftermath of the 1798 rebellions - it has lost its parliament and is now the second city in the British Empire - we want to know how that feels. Boxer Dan Donnelly, the young lawyer and politician Daniel O'Connell, aristocrat siblings Captain William and Mary Kelly, and self-made business-woman and Madam Peg Plunkett drive the series, which will roll out over three seasons. These characters will be present in each season and each season will focus on a different aspect of life in Dublin:  Season 1) The Ballad of Handsome Dan, Season 2) The Oldest Profession, and season 3) The Great Emancipator.”

The Liberties is being developed and exec produced by Laura McNicholas for 925 Productions, Simon Doyle for Failsafe Films, and Brian Durnin for Greenhorn Films. The cast in the proof of concept includes Moe Dunford (Dublin Murders), Lochlainn O’Mearain (Finding Joy), Catherine Walker (Versailles), Danielle Galligan (Shadow & Bone - Netflix), Tadhg Murphy (Brassic). The proof was directed by Brian Durnin from a script by Pierce Ryan and Jamie Hannigan, and produced by Laura McNicholas, John Murnaghan and Brian Durnin for Greenhorn Films and Gary Moore for Red Rage Films.

Click here to watch the Proof of Concept for The Liberties.

1815; following the failed Wolfe Tone uprising in 1798 and subsequent Act of Union, tensions have risen considerably between the Irish and their British counterparts. The Catholic Emancipation movement is gathering momentum and a young Daniel O’Connell is making his presence felt.

The Liberties tells the interconnected stories of three siblings from this little-seen period. They are William, Mary, and Pondersbury Kelly. Each is part of the landed gentry class who have “taken the soup” - the previous generation of their family had converted to Protestantism to hold onto their land and title.

The legendary life of boxer Dan Donnelly and his links with the Kellys, provide the spine of Season 1. His unlikely partnership with William leads to success that, again and again, neither man can hold onto for very long. We are also introduced to Peg Plunkett, the most infamous madam of the era. In a male-dominated society, William’s sister, Mary, becomes gradually affiliated with Peg’s business in an effort to wrestle back some autonomy and power for herself.

The titular “Liberties” area, where much of our action takes place, was gifted to the privileged classes of Irish society as a “liberty” of the Crown, where they could devise their own laws and regulate trade as they saw fit. But for the majority of the population, life was fought out in the dense warren of backstreets and alleyways for whatever gains could be made. In the 1810s, this place is desperate for any kind of hero…

“Huge thanks to Red Rage Films, Ardmore Studios, Kite Studios and Windmill Lane for their support in making the proof of concept,” continued McNicholas.  “And of course all our incredible crew including DOP Ivan McCullough (Good Vibrations), Production Designer Joe Fallover (Extra Ordinary) and Costume Designer Gwen Jefferes Hourie (Broken Law) with Makeup by Liz Bryne and Hair Design by Linda Gannon Foster (Fate: The Winx Sage - Netflix).”

The series is currently being pitched to broadcasters and streamers with a view to shooting late in 2021. 

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