Besides the struggles the Irish had with others attempting to take over the country were the religious battles. These again are very complex issues, but Keane takes us through them in great detail.
One of the biggest occurrences in relatively recent Irish history was the Irish potato famine. Potatoes were a huge part of the Irish people’s diet, and when Phytophthora infestans, (commonly known as “blight”) struck in the mid-nineteenth century, the country was devastated. It is estimated that a million people died of starvation during this time, while a million more emigrated to the United States.
At this point, Keane takes us to New York, where so many Irish settled. In particular, the spot in the city that was once known as “Five Points.” Five Points gained international notoriety as a slum run by gangs. The Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York (2002) is based in Five Points.
The twentieth century saw an enormous amount of political violence, and the issues became more and more complex. Again, Keane walks us through the issues, without taking sides - simply explaining the various points of view, and the inevitable violence that accompanied the events.
One of the most notable things about The Story of Ireland is the many beautiful landscape shots. From the ancient monasteries, to the shores, to the green, green land itself - the country is a glorious feast for the eyes. This BBC production does not have any bonus features, but after spending five hours watching century upon century of Irish history, there really does not seem to be a need for more.
Although something like this may sound like a dry documentary, it is anything but. I was captivated by it, all the way through. The Story of Ireland is extremely well-done, and very highly recommended.