The Top 8 Irish Films to Watch on St. Patrick’s Day!
Get in touch with your Irish roots…or get you through a post St. Paddy’s Day hangover.
On March 17, the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. Although technically a religious holiday, many countries use the day to celebrate Irish tradition and culture in general. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, DMG Entertainment has compiled a list of eight films with deep Irish roots. So throw on the emerald, grab some corn beef and green beer and check out these great films. Just like St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy!
THE COMMITMENTS (1991)
Director: Alan Parker
Starring: Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball
Summary: Based on one of Roddy Doyle’s “Barrytown” novels, THE COMMITMENTS follows Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins), a young man tired of listening to the same Irish live bands. He gathers a group of working-class Dubliners who form a band that plays 1960s American soul songs.
Best Quote: Jimmy Rabbitte: “Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud.”
Fun Facts: THE COMMITMENTS uses the word “f**k” 169 times.
Shamrock Rating: 5/5 A film based on an Irish novel, shot in Ireland, with an all Irish cast.
MY LEFT FOOT (1989)
Director: Jim Sheridan
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan
Summary: Based on the true story of Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis), the Academy Award winning film follows an Irishman who overcomes cerebral palsy to become an extraordinary artists. With encouragement from Brown’s mother (Brenda Fricker), Brown learns how to paint and write only using his left foot.
Best Quote: Christy Brown: “All is nothing, therefore nothing must end.”
Fun Facts: Daniel Day-Lewis, famous for his extreme acting methods, not only refused to come out of character, but also broke two of his own ribs to maintain a hunched position.
Shamrock Rating: 4.9/5 Although this film is based on an Irish story and set in Ireland, not all of the actors were Irish. Even though Daniel Day-Lewis has Irish citizenship, he was born in the UK.
THE CRYING GAME (1992)
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker
Summary: After the IRA kidnaps British solider Jody (Forest Whitaker), IRA volunteer Fergus (Stephen Reah) develops a friendship with the British hostage. Despite their recently developed friendly, the hostage situation goes terribly wrong, forcing Fergus to escape to London. Fergus meets Jody’s girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) and begins to have feelings towards her. They develop a passionate relationship until Fergus discovers something…unique about Dil. Can their relationship get passed their secrets?
Best Quote: Jody: …and as they both sink beneath the waves, the frog cries out, “Why did you sting me, Mr. Scorpion? For now we both will drown!” Scorpion replies, “I can’t help it. It’s in my nature!”
Fun Facts: THE CRYING GAME is listed in Steven Schneider’s “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
Shamrock Rating: 3.5/5 Although the story and direction are by Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan, the film is only partially shot in Ireland and includes Hollywood actors.
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Laine Megaw, Brian Milligan
Summary: Set in Northern Ireland’s infamous Maze Prison, tells the true story of Irish Republican Army volunteer Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) as he leads inmates on a hunger strike to regain political status.
Best Quote: Sands: “You want me to argue about the morality of what I’m about to do and whether it’s really suicide or not? For one, you’re calling it suicide. I call it murder. And that’s just another wee difference between us two. We’re both Catholic men, both Republicans. But while you were poaching salmon in beautiful Kilrea, we were being burnt out of our house in Rathcoole. Similar in many ways, Dom, but life and experiences focused our beliefs differently.”
Fun Facts: Michael Fassbender went on a medically administered crash diet to accurately depict the body’s transformation during a hunger strike.
Shamrock Rating: 2.5/5 While the story focuses on the IRA and Maze Prison, the film is considered a British/Irish historical drama. The cast and crew is also evenly split between Irish and Brit.
ANGELA’S ASHES (1999)
Director: Alan Parker
Starring: Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen
Summary: Based on Frank McCourt’s best-selling autobiography, ANGELA’S ASHES tells the story of McCourt’s (Joe Breen) turbulent childhood. At an early age, Frank confronts the harsh realities of family loss, extreme poverty, and an alcoholic father. Despite numerous adversities, Frank and his family continue their pursuit to escape from their situation.
Best Quote: Narrator: “If I were in America I could say “I love you, dad”, the way they do in the films. But in Limerick they’d laugh at you. In Limerick you are only allowed to say you love God, and babies, and horses that win. Anything else is softness in the head.”
Fun Facts: Some of the other actors considered for ANGELA’S ASHES include Pierce Brosnan, Stephen Rea and Liam Neeson.
Shamrock Rating: 4.5/5 The film is based on an Irish book, shot in Ireland, and includes an Irish director with an Irish lead actor.
THE QUIET MAN (1952)
Director: John Ford
Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald
Summary: After retiring from a boxing career, American Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns to his ancestral homeland of Ireland. While reestablishing himself in Ireland, Thornton meets the beautiful Mary Kate Danaer (Maureen O’Hara) and wants to court her. In order to win the heart of Mary Kate, Thornton must prove his dedication towards the Irish culture and the local town.
Best Quote: Thornton: “There’ll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate… except those in your own mercenary little heart!”
Fun Facts: At the end of the film, O’Hara whispers something into Wayne’s ear, evoking a hilarious reaction from Wayne. What was said? O’Hara and Wayne took the whispered line to their graves.
Shamrock Rating: 4/5 Set and filmed on location in Ireland, the cast and crew were a mix of Hollywood and local talents, including the quintessential American – John Wayne. The film employed many actors from the Irish theatre, including Barry Fitzgerald’s brother, Arthur Shields, as well as extras from the Irish countryside, and it is one of the few Hollywood movies in which the Irish language can be heard.
WAKING NED DEVINE (1998)
Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Fionnula Flanagan
Summary: After Ned Devine wins the lottery, he drops dead of a heart attack. When two of Ned’s old time friends, Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelly), hear of Ned’s unusual predicament, they pretend Ned is still alive to take the prize money.
Best Quote: Jackie O’Shea: “Michael O’Sullivan was my great friend. But I don’t ever remember telling him that. The words that are spoken at a funeral are spoken too late for the man who is dead. What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral. To sit at the front and hear what was said, maybe say a few things yourself. Michael and I grew old together. But at times, when we laughed, we grew young. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I’d congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend.”
Fun Facts: Although the film’s American distribution name is WAKING NED DIVINE, the film’s actual name is WAKING NED. UK distributors believed the shorter name would be more user-friendly.
Shamrock Rating: 3/5 Although set in Ireland, the film was actually shot in the UK and had a mixed British/Irish cast.
THE SNAPPER (1993)
Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Colm Meaney, Tina Kellegher, Ruth McCabe
Summary: In another adaption of Roddy Doyle’s “Barrytown” novels, 20-year-old Sharon Curly (Tina Kellegher) discovers she is pregnant. When Curly refuses to name the father of her baby, she becomes the talk of her Irish town. As her friends and family rally around her, they suspect Sharon’s friend’s father is the mystery papa.
Best Quote: Sharon Curley: “You’re tormented? You’ve made me the laughing stock of Barrytown, I can’t go out without being jeered at. You’re tormented? You prick ya!”
Fun Facts: The hospital where Sharon’s baby is born is a real maternity hospital called the Rotunda.
Shamrock Rating: 4.5/5 Although the director is from the UK, the film’s story, location and actors are all from Ireland.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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