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Irish Brigade documentary being filmed in county

May 06, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- An Irish film crew began shooting a documentary in Washington County this week about the Civil War's famed Irish Brigade.

Keith Farrell, writer/director of "Fg an Bealach," said battle scenes will be shot today and Saturday at the North American Rod and Gun Club and continue into next week at other locations.

"Fg an Bealach," old Gaelic for "Clear the Way," was the Irish Brigade's battle cry.

On Thursday, Farrell and a crew of about 20 actors and production assistants filmed in Hagerstown at The Maryland Theatre and The Miller House on West Washington Street to take advantage of the city's old-style architecture.

Farrell said the documentary will be aired in Ireland and on the Smithsonian Channel in the United States. He said the show times would be determined at a later date.

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"I always wanted to make it," Farrell said. "A hundred-and-fifty-thousand Irishmen fell for the Union. Twenty-thousand fell for the South."

According to Tile Film's website, the first episode begins and ends at the Battle of Antietam, where the legend of the Irish Brigade was born. The story starts with the discovery of the remains of an Irish soldier on the battlefield in 1988. The quest to discover the identity of the unknown soldier opens the first chapter of the Brigade's history.

The second episode follows the unit's involvement at the battles of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, where the Irish played a crucial part in winning the battle.

The battles of Spotsylvania and Seven Pines also receive mention.

Russell E. Richards Jr., American producer of "Clear the Way," said he auditioned historical actors from across the country to appear in the documentary.

"I looked ... to see if they were up to par," he said. "We just don't take anyone."

Richards said he wanted to thank the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and officials at the filming sites for making the project possible.

"We couldn't do it without them," he said. "I can't say enough."

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