A slice of very harrowing social history set against the Irish potato famine (1845 - 49) and the subsequent land clearances carried out by British troops on behalf of the landed gentry and the English government. The clearances have also formed a dark part of Scottish history,which I don’t think has been articulated in movies and incidentally to my knowledge this is the first time that the potato famine has been the subject of an Irish movie. Both nations still show the scars associated with this inhuman type of land control.
The title of this movie is taken from the worst year of this devastating period - 1847. James Frecheville plays Feeney a Irish Ranger who took the ‘kings shilling’ and has been fighting for the British Army. After 13 years he deserts and returns to his Irish homeland to reunite with his family. Even this hardened solider is shocked by what he finds on his return. The people are dying due to the potato famine and the brutalisation by the overlords and their lapdogs. When he discovers that his mother staved to death, his brother was hanged by the English and his sister in law and her children had frozen to death after being forced out of the home Feeney sets out to avenge his family.
Injustice sometimes can only be put right by violent action and this story is one of these occasions, yes grisly, yes bloodthirsty but one cannot help side with Mr Feeney and his blood spattered actions. Very well received in Ireland as one would expect, not sure if this movie has had a release in the UK, shame if it has not - but there’s always the DVD.