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Knocknagow

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Knocknagow

One of the first Irish feature films, a heartwarming tale of Tipperary folk set during the land clearances of the 1840s

Period drama 1918 90 mins

Overview

Hyped as “Ireland’s own film”, this adaptation of a revered Irish novel was one of the country’s first and most popular features. Despite the film’s low budget, its Tipperary locations are lushly shot and its political resonance is sharp. Knocknagow portrays life in Ireland during the turmoil and famine of the mid 19th century “when Irish smiles broke through every cloud of oppression”, and it was embraced by audiences in another tumultuous era, with the nation on the cusp of independence.

One of the most obvious signs of the production’s low budget is the fact that the interior scenes are clearly shot on open-air sets, rather than in an expensively lit studio, as would be the norm in European and Hollywood film-making by this date. Produced by the short-lived Film Company of Ireland, Knocknagow was directed by Fred Donovan, a theatrical actor-manager. Among the cast, watch out for a young Cyril Cusack making his debut as the son of the Brian family.