The Liberties - Dan Donnelly
The Liberties - Dan Donnelly

Watch the proof of concept for new Irish TV drama The Liberties

Greenhorn Films, in association with 925 Productions and Failsafe Films, has released a proof-of-concept teaser for their TV drama, The Liberties. This period drama is pitched as Gangs of New York meets Peaky Blinders in 1815 Dublin.

Dublin is a vice of a capital city, with its numberless train of incentives to drunkenness, idleness and debauchery, must always produce a languor in the industry, and a gangrene in the morals, of the lower class of people.

Hibernian Journal, 1778

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 having converted to Protestantism to hold onto their land and title.

The legendary life of boxer Dan Donelly 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 the 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…

The Liberties was created by Pierce Ryan (Black ’47), Gary Duggan (Amber) and international commercials director Brian Durnin. The Liberties is being developed and executive produced as a TV series by Durrin’s production company Greenhorn with Laura McNicholas of 925 Productions and Simon Doyle of Failsafe 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), and 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.

In developing The Liberties as a TV drama we are really interested in looking at a period of Irish history that is often overlooked. 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.

Laura McNicholas – Executive Producer

The producers offer their thanks to Red Rage Films, Ardmore Studios, Kite Studios and Windmill Lane for their support in making the proof of concept. And to all of their 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 Byrne and Hair Design by Linda Gannon Foster (Fate: The Winx Club Saga – Netflix). As well as a very special thanks to the multitude of extras who joined them to make this proof of concept.