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Brian Durnin Brutally Depicts the Tale of Dan Donnelly in The Liberties

Production Company
Dublin, Ireland
The Red Rage director developed the proof of concept with writers Pierce Ryan and Gary Duggan

The Liberties is a drama series set in Dublin in the early 19th century. Season One revolves around the rise to fame of boxer Dan Donnelly under the patronage of William Kelly. Co-written by Brian Durnin, Pierce Ryan (Black 47) and Gary Duggan (Amber).

Director Brian Durnin said of the show: “So… a few years ago myself and one of my oldest friends John Murnaghan sat down over a few pints and began chatting about amazing stories which we’d love to see on screen. He mentioned the tale of Dan Donnelly and my interest was peaked immediately. I dove deep into the research and uncovered a wealth of incredible stories based around early 19th century Dublin. Dan’s story alone is incredibly compelling. He grew up in abject poverty, one of 19 children, on Dublin’s Townsend Street. His boxing prowess made him de facto champion of Dublin and brought him to the attention of wealthy landowner William Kelly who became his promoter. Together they earned the opportunity to fight for the world title at a time when Irish boxing was much maligned and all the best boxers were from England. The relationship of these two unlikely friends from opposite sides of the track provided enormous potential to explore Irish identity in the early 19th century and have a bit of fun along the way!

“Dan’s tale, combined with the amazing stories of the vicious Ormonde and Liberty Boys (warring Dublin gangs of the time), Peg Plunkett (an infamous madame) and a nascent Catholic Emancipation movement led by Daniel O Connell, felt like ample material for a TV series. We decided to develop and shoot a Proof of Concept film to establish the tone and style of the piece and John secured the funding whilst I tried my hand at production (a first for me). Luckily, I was able to draw on my experience in directing commercials and had the backup of Gary Moore at Red Rage who came on board to help us out along with co-producer Laura McNicholas.

“We were very lucky to be supported by Windmill Lane Pictures for our post-production process. Having worked with them a lot over the years with Red Rage we have developed a great relationship there. Pre-existing relationships through TV commercials enabled us to draw on favours from Teach Solais/Kite Studios (lighting), Vast Valley (Camera Rental), Ardmore Studios and a host of other providers to make the shoot a reality. I was also lucky enough to have my old pal and former band-mate Steve Lynch agree to score the project and Mick Creedon on board mix the sound. 

“I am very proud of the resulting product. It was accomplished on a shoestring budget with the good will and sheer determination of a lot of amazing people. Moe Dunford was an incredible asset to the shoot not only in terms of his acting ability but his general attitude and support for the project. All of the other actors involved were equally brilliant and we were lucky enough to work with incredible talents such as Lochlann O Mearáin, Catherine Walker, Danielle Galligan, Tadhg Murphy, Diarmuid De Faoite, David Pearse, Raymond Keane and Tony Doyle. Ivan McCullough’s photography, Joe Fallover’s Art Direction, Gwen Jeffares-Hourie’s Costume Design, Liz Byrne and Lisa Gannon Foster’s Make-up and Hair and the incredible 1st ADing skills of Sandra Corbally.”

The project is now in development with an aim to begin shooting in 2021. 

Post Production / VFX
Music / Sound
Work from Ponder
Jeff's World
Three Ireland