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‘Dominion Creek’ Captures the Immigrant Experience of the Old American West
April 24, 2017  | By David Hinckley

Have a good chuckle if you will, lads and lassies, at the idea of an Irish Western.

But Dominion Creek, an Irish production available in the U.S. starting Monday on Acorn TV, captures the rugged spirit of that quintessential American story genre.

Like a number of imported series, the second season of Dominion Creek won’t tax anyone’s attention span. It only runs four episodes.

It does, however, require close attention. The stories are densely packed, and much of the dialogue is in Gaelic with English subtitles.

Originally titled An Klondike when it aired in Ireland, Dominion Creek is set in the gold rush area of the Yukon in the last years of the 19th century.

It centers on three Connolly brothers – Tom (Owen McDonnell, top, left), Séamus (Dara Devaney, left) and Padraig (Seán T. Ó Meallaigh, top, right) – who emigrated to North America a few years earlier and decided to go for the gold once the rush began.

Dominion Creek seems to have sprung up as an instant town to serve all these aspiring miners. It’s got a hotel, a supply store, bars and women for sale. What it doesn’t have, to any measurable degree, is law, order or community stability.

Dominion Creek has been likened to Deadwood, with good reason, and in fact, the whole show has strong parallels to that classic series about a boomtown caked with mud and wholly unsentimental.

The Connolly brothers have carved out a decent place for themselves. They haven’t gotten rich yet, but their lives don’t feel tenuous, which is still a big concern for much of the population.

Tom takes a stoic attitude, Séamus is more impulsive. Padraig is a religious kind of fellow, and he’d like to settle down with Bridget Mannion (Fionnuala Flaherty), who came over from Ireland as a maid and is tired of always answering to someone else.   

The Connollys’ primary nemesis is Jacob Hopkins (Robert O’Mahoney, below, right), who is as aristocratic as the Connollys are working class.

A retired Army officer from a wealthy family in Boston, Hopkins owns the Golden Nugget Saloon and other revenue-generating operations in Dominion Creek. He’s also trying to buy up the best claim-stake land.

He’s abetted by his son JJ (Ian Toner), who was dispatched to the Klondike by Jacob after JJ had some trouble back in Boston. Joining JJ is his wife Estella (Megan Riordan).

While the Hopkins family is a formidable adversary for anyone who dreams of getting a piece of Dominion Creek’s newfound wealth, it does have a weak spot.

They all hate each other.

As the second season begins, the Connollys are joined by another relative from back in Ireland. This isn’t entirely good news.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office had sent for a traveling judge, because there’s someone in jail who seems to have committed a murder and needs to be hanged. 

When the judge arrives, however, there’s something the town fathers don’t know. Like that maybe he isn’t who they expected. So the Dominion Creek justice system, already tenuous, may unravel a little further.

Dominion Creek gives us a surprisingly large cast for a small town, and at times it’s not easy to keep up with all the dramas. In the end, though, it tells a solid, unvarnished tale of how the American dream played out for some of the immigrants who came here looking to buy in.

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