St patrick day movies

Table of Contents

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, my lads and lassies! We want to celebrate it even if we aren’t Irish, because we believe it will bring us good luck, and it’s just good fun. If you have kids, a family movie night is a great way to celebrate Irish culture.

I have found some great movies celebrating Irish culture that are easy to get! Many are streaming on Netflix. So grab some green popcorn and a cup of golden apple juice and drink a toast to leprechauns and four-leaf clovers!

The Secret of Kells

For your movie night with kids eight and up, start here. Rated PG and streaming on Netflix, this Oscar-nominated film has lush animation in the style of ancient illuminated manuscripts. The story celebrates Irish lore and culture: after Vikings destroy his abbey home, a boy must complete a challenge in a magical wood in order to finish an illuminated mythical manuscript, the Book of Kells.

Song of the Sea

Nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Animated Feature, Song of the Sea (full review here) is from Tomm Moore, who also directed The Secret of Kells. In it a young girl, Saoirse, discovers that, when she puts on a magical coat belonging to her late mother, that she is really a selkie, a human who transforms into a seal when reaching the ocean. She possesses the key to the fairy world’s survival, but that’s all put at risk when she is forced to move away from the sea to the big city. The movie has some sad moments with her mother passing away right at the beginning, but overall I’m recommending for ages six and up. The film is a great choice for a St. Patrick’s Day movie. Screen for free on Amazon Prime. The movie is also available on DVD at Amazon.


Netflix viewers are very enthusiastic about this documentary chronicling the Irish Dancing Championships. This movie follows the dancers and explores their competitive world. The film is rated PG and streaming for free on Amazon Prime.

The Secret of Roan Inish

This is a beautiful movie from 2000 directed by John Sayles. It’s another movie with the mythic theme of the selkie. A young girl, Fiona, discovers that her ancestor may have married a selkie, at least that’s how the stories in the Irish village of Donegal go. She lost her baby brother when the ocean carried his cradle away. Can he now be found among the seals? Fiona must find out. This movie is rated PG and good for older kids. It’s unfortunately hard to find, but add it to your watch list on Amazon Prime. The DVD can be ordered on Amazon, but unfortunately it’s $50 because it’s a rare find. Hopefully this one will get a well-deserved re-release soon.

A Very Unlucky Leprechaun

This very popular family film for St. Patty’s Day is unfortunately a little hard to find. A young girl named Molly must save her new home, aptly called Misfortune Mansion, with the help of a leprechaun. Check your local library or record store that sells DVDs, or if you have a video store close to you like me, see if they have it.

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns

This fantasy movie from 2000 starring Randy Quaid and Whoopie Goldberg is reported to be enchanting. Unfortunately, it is also a little harder to get. The DVD can be ordered on Amazon but it’s very expensive (about $50). The film is not rated. also has it.

The Last Leprechaun

The Last Leprechaun is a tale of siblings who find themselves in Ireland. They must foil their future stepmother’s plans to destroy the Leprechan king. Rated G, the overall the consensus is that, while the acting is not great, the movie is fine for young kids. Available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Dwegons and Leprechauns

What would you do if you moved into a house that protected a magical world of leprechauns? A family finds themselves in this predicament in Dwegons and Leprechauns. The film is rated PG and received mixed reviews on Netflix, where it used to be available for streaming, particularly regarding the somewhat intense death of a major character. My recommendation to parents is to preview this one at least in part to make sure its right for your family. The film is now available on Amazon Prime for streaming.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People

As much as I love Disney, I really don’t love this movie and can’t recommend it for a family movie night. Not only is it incredibly dated, but it’s meandering and too scary for young kids. Modern day older kiddos will find it boring. Plus, there is WAY too much drinking in this movie for comfort. It’s only saving grace? Young Sean Connery is quite dashing. Rent instantly or find it on DVD on Amazon.

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The Irish are known for their inherent sense of humour. Colloquially known as “the craic”, Irish humour is dry and sarcastic. It is meant with the best intentions, so its best not to take Irish humour too seriously!

If you’re looking to fit in with the locals, check out these ten hilarious Irish jokes which will get the whole pub laughing.

10. The Guinness Factory Pub

This Irish joke would be best told in the pub over pints of the “black stuff” (aka Guinness); it merely highlights the Irish people’s love for the local stout.

One night, Mrs McMillen answers the door to see her husband’s best friend, Paddy, standing on the doorstep.

“Hello Paddy, where is my husband? He went with you to the beer factory.”

Paddy shook his head. “Ah Mrs McMillen, there was a terrible accident at the beer factory, your husband fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned.”

Mrs McMillen starts crying. “Oh don’t tell me that, did he at least go quickly?”

Paddy shakes his head. “Not really – he got out three times to pee!”

9. The Empty Glass

This short and sweet Irish joke could be reenacted to a barman or told amongst friends and is bound to get a few laughs.

The barman says to Paddy, “Your glass is empty, fancy another one?”

Looking puzzled Paddy says “Why would I be needed two empty feckin’ glasses?”

8. Sunday: A Day of Rest

Many people know that Sunday means a day of rest and in the countryside little opens. There are always a few exceptions, however. This Irish joke is sure to get a few laughs in the pub!

Liam had left Dublin to go up to Belfast for a bit of skydiving. Late on Sunday evening, he was found in a tree by a farmer.

“What happened?” said the farmer

Liam replied, “my parachute failed to open!”

“Well!” said the farmer “if you had asked the locals before you jumped, they would have told you nothing opens here on a Sunday!”

7. A Little Trip-Up

This is another one of the hilarious Irish jokes that will make everyone laugh for its simplicity and play on words!

When Billy saw Paddy with one of his shoelaces was undone, he said, “watch you don’t trip up over your laces, Paddy.”

Paddy said, “Yeah, it’s these bloody instructions.”

Billy said, “What instructions, Paddy?”

Paddy replies, “Underneath the shoe, it says ‘Taiwan’.”

6. A Light Bulb Goes Off

If you’re looking for another one of our top hilarious Irish jokes, this is it!

Paddy and Murphy are working on a building site.

Paddy says to Murphy, “I’m gonna’ get the day off. I’m gonna’ pretend I’ve gone mad!”

So Paddy climbs up the rafters, hangs upside down and shouts “I’m a light bulb, I’m a light bulb!” while Murphy watches in amazement.

The foreman shouts: “Paddy, go home. You’ve gone mad.”

As Paddy leaves the site, Murphy starts packing his kit up to leave as well.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asks the foreman.

“Well, I can’t work in the friggin’ dark!” said Murphy.

5. An Answered Prayer

This funny Irish joke will definitely get the whole pub in fits of giggles – you can thank us later!

An Irishman is struggling to find a parking space.

“Lord,” he prayed. “I can’t stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I’ll give up the Guinness and go to mass every Sunday.”

Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shines on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the Irishman says: “Never mind, I found one!”

4. Getting Directions

The Irish are portrayed as being both great and terrible at giving directions, and if this Irish joke is anything to go by, it would be the latter!

Billy stops Paddy in Dublin and asks for the quickest way to Cork.

Paddy says, “Are you on foot or in the car?”

Billy says, “In the car.”

Paddy says, “That’s the quickest way.”

3. The Drunken Priest

This laugh out loud Irish joke will ensure you make a good few friends in the pub this weekend!

An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut.

The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

He says, “Sir, have you been drinking?”

“Just water,” says the priest.

The trooper says, “Then why do I smell wine?”

The priest looks at the bottle and says, “Good Lord! He’s done it again!”

2. A Call from Beyond the Grave

This hilarious Irish joke is short and sweet, and packs quite a punch!

Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died.

He quickly phoned his best friend Finney. “Did you see the paper?” asked Gallagher. “They say I died!!”

“Yes, I saw it!” replied Finney. “Where are ye callin’ from?”

1. The Doctor and a Patient

No one wants to hear that they’ve not long to go, but this funny Irish joke will surely give people the giggles.

Dr O’Mahony tells his patient: “I have bad news and worse news, John.”

“Oh dear,” John replies. “What’s the bad news?” asks the patient.

The doctor replies: “You only have 24 hours to live.”

“That’s terrible,” says the patient. “How can the news possibly be worse?”

Dr O’Mahony replies: “I’ve been trying to contact you since yesterday.”

Irish broadband plan gets EU green light for 2.6 bln euro funding

BRUSSELS, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Friday it had approved 2.6 billion euros ($2.9 billion) of public funding for the Irish National Broadband Plan, to bring high-speed broadband services in areas poorly connected in Ireland.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that the plan was expected to address the significant digital divide between urban and rural areas in Ireland.

“This will help households and businesses in areas of Ireland where private investment is insufficient,” she said.

The new network will be able to support download speeds of at least 150 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 30 megabits per second.

It will be available in areas where such download speeds are currently not available and where no private investor intends to carry out upgrades in the future.

It will also offer wholesale access to all operators leading to more private investments in the provision of high-speed internet services to companies and households in the targeted areas, the Commission said. ($1 = 0.9074 euros) (Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

5 leprechaun movies to watch this St. Patrick’s Day

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holy feast celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, who is known for eradicating snakes from Ireland and explaining the Christian holy trinity using a three-leaf clover. However, like any good religious celebration, St. Patrick’s Day has been cheapened and warped by consumerism and secular culture, leading to a holiday mostly known for drinking alcohol, wearing green, eating beef and cabbage, and buying Shamrock Shakes. The most peculiar and prominent imagery from St. Patrick’s Day happens to be the leprechaun, a fantastical Irish fairy dressed in green and concerned about gold and luck. There have been many iterations of the lucky little Irishman in popular culture, ranging all the way from the iconic to the indistinct.

Lubdan the Leprechaun (“Leprechaun” film series)

Image from IMDb

An 8-film comedy/horror saga that follows an evil leprechaun who tortures people who take and spend his gold. This leprechaun has hunted his treasure from Ireland to North Dakota to Las Vegas to an alien spaceship to the hood twice. Personally, if I were that dedicated to my personal gold, I would keep it in a Swiss safety deposit box

The O’Reilly Family (“Luck of the Irish,” 2001)

Image from IMDb

A privileged white male who has found general success in school, sports, and life is finally brought back down to size when he loses his family’s lucky medallion. And by brought down to size, I mean he starts shrinking and turning into a leprechaun, red hair and pointy ears and all. We never get to see his transformation complete, as the entire special effects budget was used to make his mom look six inches tall. In order to win his family’s luck back, he must defeat another evil leprechaun in basketball for the magical medallion. Yeah, this was a classic Disney Channel Original Movie from my childhood, but it certainly was no High School Musical.

The Leprechaun (“Red Clover,” 2012)

Image from IMDb

Hollywood must be afraid of leprechauns because there is yet another horror film centered around the mythical creatures, though one that does not have 7 others in its franchise. The made-for-TV movie follows a woman in a sleepy town who unwittingly releases a murderous leprechaun from an interdimensional prison. The leprechaun resumes his murder spree, and it is up to the woman and her father, the town’s sheriff, to end the creature’s rampage.

Seamus, Mary, and Mickey Muldoon (“The Magical Legend of Leprechauns,” 2000)

Image from IMDb

Break out the tissues and chocolates, because Hallmark has made a cheesy movie about leprechauns, involving clichéd tropes such as love at first sight, underdogs fighting corporatism, and…interspecies magical warfare? Seamus is a leprechaun who befriends a human, Jack, for saving his life, revealing the magical world of Irish mythical creatures. His son Mickey falls in love with a fairy-princess named Jessica, who are able to end the blood feud between their kind by a suicide pact a la Romeo and Juliet. Alas, even the most original Hallmark movie will fall to repeated tropes.

Lepkey the Leprechaun (“Getting Lucky,” 1990)

Image from IMDb

A teenage dork sets out to score a date with his cheerleader crush using three wishes from a drunk leprechaun he found in a beer bottle. No, I’m not kidding, that is the synopsis. Cheesy acting and a corny premise are succulent toppings to this indie sex comedy, which is anything but safe for work. But hey, having sex and getting drunk are practically staples of the modern St. Patrick’s Day holiday so I guess it fits.

Surprisingly there aren’t that many iconic leprechauns portrayed in films, despite the iconic imagery and thematic imagery that enable movies about Santa Claus or Halloween monsters come out almost once a year. Perhaps it’s because St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have the cultural impact that Christmas or Halloween do. Maybe it’s because having a character whose base trait is being lucky makes for a pretty uninteresting conflict and story. Or maybe it’s just because the effects and mythology details needed to make a decent leprechaun movie outweigh the desire from audiences to watch one on the big screen. So, if you’re like me and looking for a leprechaun movie to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in lieu of bar hopping…it looks like it’s pretty slim pickings.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, IMDb

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: Tt Shinkan

10 romantic Irish films guaranteed to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day

THERE’S NOTHING better than a night in, watching a film with that special someone.

And whether it’s Valentine’s Day or just a quiet Saturday night together, it pays to be in the know when it comes to choosing the perfect film to enjoy together.

Fortunately, the Irish Post has got you covered with a list of 10 distinctly Irish films that are perfect for anyone in the mood for something a little romantic.

From critically-acclaimed favourites, established classis and some suitably cheesy efforts, these films can be enjoyed together, alone or in the company of friends.

10. Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan became a household name with this Nick Hornby-scripted tale of an Irish immigrant who lands in 1950s Brooklyn and quickly falls in love with an Italian American local.

But when her past catches up with her she’s forced to choose between the new life she has built for herself and the one waiting for her back home in Ireland. A modern classic

9. The Brylcreem Boys

Set within the confines of an Irish prisoner of war camp, this Second World War romantic comedy centres on a love triangle involving Billy Campbell’s interned Canadian pilot Miles Keogh and Angus Macfadyen’s German pilot Rudolph Von Stegenbeck who find themselves interned on the Emerald Isle and battling for the heart of local woman Mattie Guerin (Jean Butler).

Gabriel Byrne also shines as the unceasingly vigilant internment camp commander in this enjoyably light 1940s affair.

8. P.S. I Love You

Gerard Butler’s Irish accent may have been questionable at best, but P.S. I Love You still succeeds in tugging at the heartstrings.

It’s the story of a young widow (Hilary Swank) who discovers her late husband left her 10 messages designed to help her move on from the pain of his sudden passing and start a new life.

Cheesy but guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye.

7. The Boxer

No list of Irish films would be complete without a turn from Daniel Day-Lewis. In this instance, the Irish Post has plumped for Jim Sheridan’s The Boxer.

It tells the story of a once-promising fighter (Day-Lewis) trying to rebuild his life after spending 14 years behind bars for his involvement in the IRA.

But while his old Belfast neighbourhood is still riddled with the elements that saw him turn to crime all those years ago, a reunion with an old flame provides hope for a better future.

6. Once

Made on a budget of just €112,000 after years in development with the Irish Film Board, John Carney’s Irish romantic musical drama is rightly regarded as one of the best of its genre.

The film works thanks to a combination of spellbinding songs and emotive performances from its two charming leads Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

The simple story of a busker and an immigrant who spend a week together writing and recording songs telling their story of love, Once makes for irresistible viewing.

5. The Matchmaker

A fun, lightweight romantic comedy, The Matchmaker centres on Jeanne Garofalo’s Marcy who, as assistant to a US senator, is tasked with visiting Ireland to trace her boss’s ancestors.

Upon arrival in the village of Ballinagra, however, Marcy soon finds herself the centre of attention with an annual Matchmaking Festival in full swing.

Based on a script co-written by Father Ted’s Graham Linehan, The Matchmaker gets by on charm and a few warm laughs and is sure to stir up memories of home.

4. Sing Street

John Carney returned to a familiar setting for this 1980s Dublin-set teen comedy drama.

It tells the story of a young boy attempting to escape a troubled family life by starting a band with his friends in an attempt at impressing a mysterious girl he likes.

A feel-good musical of the highest order, Sing Street is packed full of great songs and some stellar performances from its mostly Irish cast. A must-watch.

3. Leap Year

One to file in the so-bad-its-good category, Leap Year isn’t going to win any awards for subtly or an entirely accurate portrait of life in Ireland.

Amy Adams nevertheless puts in a good shift as Anna Brady, an American who travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend as the Irish tradition dictates.

Things don’t quite go to plan though. A suitably naff affair, this one has to be seen to be believed.

2. The Quiet Man

A treasured Technicolor classic, The Quiet Man stars John Wayne as a retired American boxer who returns to the village of his birth back home in Ireland.

While there he strikes up a romance with fiery local woman Mary Kate Danaher, played by the legenary Maureen O’Hara. A classic romantic comedy drama ensues.

1. Far And Away

Ron Howard’s epic romantic adventure stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as Irish immigrants seeking fame and fortune in 1890s America.

A historical blockbuster that’s huge in scale and features plenty of memorable supporting turns, though Cruise struggles with the Irish accents Kidman is in his element with their obvious on-screen chemistry helping iron-out some of the film’s imperfections. A sprawling historical romance to rival Titanic.

See More: Irish Films, Leap Year, Netflix

30 Remarkable Movies About Ireland to Watch for St. Patrick’s Day

Ireland is a land of ancient history and magic. A place where the joy of music and dancing exists alongside hardship and survival. Its people have retained their identity with their homeland through wars for independence, religious wars, civil wars, starvation, poverty, and oppression. Ireland’s a land that enchants and fascinates. Ireland has given the world poets, artists, scientists, revolutionaries, athletes, saints, musicians and more.

Related: Brooklyn Movie Review: A Beautiful, Heartwarming Film

If you ask most people which place in the world they would like to travel to, Ireland is almost always at the top of the list. Even people with no real connection to Ireland often find themselves with an interest in the country. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of films which celebrate not only Ireland but also its’ people. So, if you are yearning for a little bit of Ireland (North and South), look no further than this list.


(in no particular order)

1. The Quiet Man (1957)

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara star in this quintessentially Irish film about an American boxer returning home to the small Irish village of his birth. Wayne’s character falls for O’Hara but must contend with her hard-headed brother while adjusting to cultural traditions foreign to him. Filmed in Ireland, this features some absolutely gorgeous cinematography and also some native character actors.

Content Note: Physical aggression between spouses is shown and there is a fight at the end.

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 17 at 7:00 PM CST. Rent or buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

2. Leap Year (2010)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Leap Year is a delightful romantic comedy. Amy Adams stars as a woman who follows her boyfriend to Ireland thinking to propose to him on Leap Year day. However, thanks to bad weather, she’s forced to hire a local Irish man (Matthew Goode) to drive her to Dublin. Their road trip through the Irish countryside tests their contentious relationship as they continually meet with disaster.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Stream on Starz. Rent or buy Amazon, Google Play, iTunes or Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

3. P.S. I Love You (2007)

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

After her husband dies, Holly begins receiving letters from him giving her tasks to complete to help her grieve. One of those involves a return trip to Ireland where they first met. Accompanied by her girlfriends, Holly retraces the steps in her relationship with Gerry. Adapted from the novel by Irish author Cecelia Ahern, this movie stars Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr. and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a unique and poignant story.

Content Note: PG-13

Where to Watch: Rent or buy Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

4. Tonight’s the Night (1954) aka Happy Ever After

Jasper O’Leary (David Niven) inherits the Irish estate of a distant relative much to the consternation of the locals. They conspire together to kill him. Meanwhile, Jasper seeks ways to bleed the estate dry. This British made film is a bit more obscure but it’s surprisingly funny and entertaining.

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 17 at 5:00 PM CST

5. Brooklyn (2015)

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

With few prospects in Ireland, Eilis is persuaded to emigrate to New York City in the 1950s. Though she desperately misses home, she learns to adjust thank to her fellow female boarders and a relationship with an Italian immigrant. As the title implies, this film is mostly set in Brooklyn, New York. However, there are scenes at the beginning and ending set in Ireland. This picture really captures the emotions of the immigrant experience.

Content Note: PG-13

Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

6. Ondine (2009)

Photo: Magnolia Pictures/Paramount Vantage

This Irish film is part gritty fairy tale and part romantic drama. After a fisherman rescues a young woman from the sea, his daughter is convinced that she’s a magical selkie. Ondine stars Colin Farrell in an unusual role and keeps the viewer guessing as to whether or not the rescued woman is indeed magical or only human.

Content Note: PG-13

Where to Watch: Stream on Hoopla or Tubi TV. Rent or buy on Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes. Purchase on DVD.

7. Circle of Friends (1995)

Adapted from a novel by Maeve Binchy, it stars Minnie Driver, Chris O’Donnell, Colin Firth, Alan Cumming, and Saffron Burrows. As the title implies, Circle of Friends follows the ups and downs of three young women in their friendship and other relationships.

Content Note: PG-13

Where to Watch: Purchase on DVD

8. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

Covering the years of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War in the 1920s, it explores the relationship of two brothers during these conflicts. This well-regarded movie is the highest grossing independent Irish film to date. It stars Cillian Murphy as one of the brothers and looks to be an absolutely heart-wrenching drama.

Content Note: This film is not rated. However, there is a brief sex scene, many scenes of war violence and lots of profanity.

Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Amazon or iTunes. Purchase on DVD.

9. Far and Away (1992)

An Irishman immigrates to America with his landlord’s aristocratic daughter in this Ron Howard romantic drama. Though the majority of the film is set in America, early scenes depict the land and culture of Ireland. This is also one of three films to co-star former husband and wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

Content Note: PG-13 for language and sensuality

Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

10. Laws of Attraction (2004)

Photo: New Line Cinema

This underrated romantic comedy stars Julianne Moore and Irishman Pierce Brosnan. The two play opposing divorce attorneys representing a contentious celebrity couple seeking a divorce. Moore and Brosnan are tasked with traveling to Ireland to dispose of the couple’s estate there. After a night of drinking, they wake up to discover they are married. Laws of Attraction reminds me a bit of the classic Adam’s Rib where Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play married attorneys representing opposite sides of the same case.

Content Note: PG-13 for sexual content and some language

Where to Watch: Rent on Vudu, Buy Vudu, iTunes. Purchase on DVD.

11. Ryan’s Daughter (1970)

Photo: MGM

A young Irish wife has an affair with a British soldier during World War I. This is a loose re-telling of the Madame Bovary story although it’s set in Ireland. It’s directed by acclaimed director David McLean and stars famous classic film actors Robert Mitchum and Trevor Howard. John Mills also co-stars (father of Disney favorite Hayley Mills) and won an Oscar for his efforts.

Content Note: Rated R for two sex scenes.

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 16 at 1:30 AM CST. Rent or buy on Youtube, Google Play, iTunes. Purchase on DVD.

12. The Boys & Girl of County Clare (2003)

Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

I discovered this film while researching for this list. This comedy about two Irish brothers who direct competing Celtic bands in a 1960’s music festival looks both charming and humorous. Not to mention it stars a young Shaun Evans long before he became Endeavour.

Content Note: R for a nude swimming scene, language, and sexuality.

Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Amazon. Purchase on DVD.

13. Young Cassidy (1965)

Photo: MGM

Long before Maggie Smith played the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, she was a sought after star in films like this biopic drama about Sean O’Casey. Rod Taylor and Julie Christie also co-star in this movie about the popular Irish playwright who wields his pen as a weapon for the causes of Irish nationalism and social issues.

Content Note: This film is not rated, but I don’t remember anything overly offensive. Christie plays a prostitute, but her work is implied rather than shown. There are also some scenes of mob violence.

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 17 at 3:00 PM. Purchase on DVD.

14. Captain Lightfoot (1955)

Photo: Universal Pictures

This Technicolor Douglas Sirk directed film is about a pair of Irish rebels who act as highwaymen, fight duels and have adventures. It was filmed in Ireland and stars Sirk favorite Rock Hudson in the title role. The film trailer looks gloriously cheesy with Hudson playing swashbuckler in brightly colored satin.

Content Note: No rating, but most likely corresponds to a G or PG film.

Where to Watch: Stream on Youtube. Purchase on DVD.

15. Beloved Enemy (1936)

A British noblewoman falls in love with an Irish rebel during the Irish War for Independence against Britain. The film is loosely based on real-life leader Michael Collins and stars David Niven, Merle Oberon, and Brian Aherne.

Where to Watch: Unfortunately, this one is not readily available, but is worth watching. It has aired on TCM in the past.

16. Finian’s Rainbow (1968)

Though it’s not filmed or technically set in Ireland, the movie is one that often comes to mind when thinking of Irish themed films. This fantasy/musical involves an Irish thief who steals a pot of gold and a leprechaun desperate to recover it. It stars the aging Fred Astaire and Disney actor Tommy Steele in a film sure to entertain the whole family.

Content Note: G

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 16 at 4:15 CST. Rent/buy Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

17. Love, Rosie (2014)

Photo: Lionsgate

This is the second film on this list adapted from a Cecelia Ahern novel. This one features Sam Claflin and Lily Collins as childhood friends who should be more. Unfortunately, life’s circumstance keeps them apart although they remain friends. Part of this movie is set and filmed in Dublin as well as other parts of Ireland.

Content Note: R for language and sexual content.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix. Rent or buy Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

Related: Film Review: Love, Rosie – A Decade Long Love Letter

18. The Luck of the Irish (1945)

Photo:20th Century Fox

This one stars the gorgeous Tyrone Power and Anne Baxter who played Nefretiri in The Ten Commandments. Power is a journalist traveling to Ireland only to find that the leprechaun and the beautiful woman he met there follows him back home to New York. The two disrupt his life although one does so mischievously while the other does so innocently.

Where to Watch: Rent on Youtube or Google Play. Buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, Vudu. Purchase on DVD as part of the Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection.

19. Once (2007)

Photo: Buena Vista International

Two struggling musicians meet on the streets of Dublin, Ireland. The two bond over music. This film is famous for introducing the song “Falling Slowly” which won an Oscar for Best Original Song. The two leads are played by musicians, not actors.

Content Note: R for language.

Where to Watch: Rent or buy Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

20. The Secret of Roan Inish (1995)

Photo: First Look Pictures

With a premise similar to Ondine, Roan Inish is the story of a young girl who lives with her grandparents on a tiny island. She believes the tales of a selkie ancestor and also that her baby brother once stolen by the sea has returned. This one is based on a children’s book called Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry. Various IMDb reviews label it mystical, charming, whimsical, heartwarming and full of wonder.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Purchase on DVD

21. This Is My Father (1998)

I love time-slip stories like this one. A middle-aged American widower goes searching for his roots and family history in Ireland. The film alternates between his present-day search and 1930’s Ireland as it tells his parent’s story. It stars familiar faces like James Caan, Aidan Quinn, John Cusack, Colm Meaney, and Brendan Gleeson.

Content Note: R for language and sexuality, although nothing graphic is shown.

Where to Watch: Purchase as an individual DVD or as part of the Big Screen Romances DVD collection.

22. Tristan & Isolde (2006)

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Adapted from a medieval legend, it features the two title characters as star-crossed lovers. One is an Irish princess, the other is in line to Britain’s throne and their two countries are at war. As you may guess, this does not end in a happily ever after. But it’s an entertaining drama with talents like Rufus Sewell, Mark Strong, Sophia Myles, James Franco, and Henry Cavill.

Content Note: PG-13 for violence and battle scenes as well as some sensuality.

Where to Watch: Rent or buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

23. The Matchmaker (1997)

Photo: Gramercy Pictures

I haven’t seen this one, but it was recommended by another Silver Petticoat writer. Janeane Garafalo stars as a Senator’s aide who travels to Ireland to research her boss’s heritage. She arrives just in time for the Matchmaking Festival and becomes the focus of attention. This sounds like a bit of a naughty romantic comedy.

Content Note: Rated R for excessive language.

Where to Watch: Purchase on DVD.

24. The Field (1990)

As anyone who has ever seen Gone With the Wind will be able to tell you, a connection to and even ownership of land is important to an Irishman (or woman). When the land a farmer’s family has worked for generations goes up for sale, he determines to buy it. But when an American bids against him, events are set in motion that lead to tragedy.

Content Note: PG-13

Where to Watch: Purchase on DVD.

25. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)

Photo: Walt Disney Productions

Long before he became famous as James Bond, a young Sean Connery co-starred in this lesser-known Disney film. Part adventure, part fantasy, it involves a friendship with a leprechaun king, a little romance, a little magic and a lot of fun. We reviewed this one several years ago and recommend it.

Content Note: G

Where to Watch: Stream on Hoopla. Rent or buy on Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

26. Into the West (1992)

Photo: Miramax Films

This family film starring Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin and a host of Irish actors sounds both whimsical and delightful. A magical horse appears to two young boys in a Dublin slum. They form a connection with the animal dreaming of becoming cowboys some day. When the horse is taken from them, they embark on an adventure which only the imagination could dream up.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Stream on Hulu and Hoopla. Purchase on DVD.

27. Philomena (2013)

Photo: Pathe

Steve Coogan and Judi Dench co-star in this film about a journalist who helps an older woman search for the son she was taken from her. Their investigation takes them back to Ireland where the search begins. This is a rather serious film about loss and forgiveness.

Content Note: PG-13 for language and sensuality

Where to Watch: Rent Vudu, Buy Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu

28. Waking Ned Devine (1998)

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

An elderly Irish man wins the lottery then quickly dies from the shock of it. Members of his small village decide to keep his death a secret, claim the money in his name and share it amongst themselves. But first, they must fool the lotto claim inspector. Those who appreciate character ensemble films should really enjoy this special comedy.

Content Note: PG

Where to Watch: Rent/buy Amazon, Youtube, Google Play, iTunes. Purchase on DVD.

29. Michael Collins (1996)

Photo: Warner Bros.

In listing Irish films, I couldn’t forget this one about the real-life Irish revolutionary, Michael Collins himself. Collins not only helped lead the fight against the British in the 1920s but was himself a symbol and revered by the Irish people. He also helped establish the Irish Free State. It stars Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Julia Roberts, Alan Rickman, and many other familiar names and was nominated for two Oscars.

Content Note: R for violence and language.

Where to Watch: Stream Vudu. Rent/Buy Youtube, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. Purchase on DVD.

30. Shake Hands with the Devil (1959)

Yet another film covering the events of the Irish War for Independence against the British in the 1920s. This one stars James Cagney, Glynis Johns and Michael Redgrave in a story about a young Irish-American who finds himself drawn into the conflict through his relationship with his former professor. Further complications arise when he also falls for a British woman. This one was filmed on location in Dublin.

Content Note: Though not rated, I would guess that nothing graphic is shown in this classic film.

Where to Watch: Airing on TCM March 24 at 6:00 PM CST. Rent or buy on Amazon.


What are some of your favorite movies about Ireland to watch for St. Patrick’s Day?

Featured Photos: Republic Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Savoy Pictures, Warner Bros. MGM and Pathe


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10 great films set in Ireland

My Left Foot (1989)

So many images of Ireland on film, including several of the movies on the list, have been created by foreign directors. The Quiet Man (1952), perhaps the most famous and, in terms or establishing Irish identity clichés, influential film made in Ireland, was directed by John Ford, written by Frank S. Nugent and starred John Wayne, all Americans (although Ford’s father was born in Spiddal). Some of the most famous ‘Irish’ films were directed by Brits, such as The Commitments (1991), The Magdalene Sisters (2002) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006). An excellent documentary on the subject, Irish Cinema: Ourselves Alone? (1996) is available on BFI Player.

So many films by great Irish directors are elusive, resting in archives rather than being easily accessible online or DVD. Films by talents such as Joe Comerford, Margo Harkin, Pat Murphy and Thaddeus O’Sullivan are longing for rediscovery. But many marvellous films are more readily available, and several films just missed the list, including the bawdy comedy The Snapper (1993) and sleeper hits like Intermission (2003) and Once (2006).

Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)

Director Robert Stevenson

There are a host of stereotypes in this Disney feature that could have made it a disaster. A British director depicting drunks telling tall tales, leprechauns prancing in the mountains and lashings of celtic mysticism and blarney sounds unholy on paper, yet somehow this neglected family film is one of the best live action films Disney ever made. Dodgy accents aside, Janet Munro and a pre-superstardom Sean Connery are winning romantic leads, but the real chemistry is in the comedy between wily Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe) and the king of the leprechauns (Jimmy O’Dea), who engage in a delightful battle of wits.

The special effects are terrific, and though it was shot in a studio, its affectionate depiction of an Ireland that exists only in the imagination is charming. But the real trump card is in the villain of the piece. During this period, Disney was at its best when it embraced the dark side, and the banshee that appears towards the end of the film is genuinely scary, and still terrifies younger viewers.

Young Cassidy (1965)

Directors John Ford, Jack Cardiff

John Ford had directed many Irish-themed films by the time he began production on Young Cassidy, a biopic on the life of playwright Sean O’Casey (played by Rod Taylor). Owing to illness he had to be replaced by Jack Cardiff, who created a powerful portrait of one of Ireland’s greatest writers, who authored masterpieces such as The Plough and the Stars (which Ford had previously adapted in 1936) and Juno and the Paycock (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1930).

Young Cassidy charts O’Casey’s life from his early years in Dublin as a campaigner against British rule in Ireland to his career as a writer and his relationship with the manager of The Abbey Theatre, where his plays provoked riots. The film has strong supporting roles for Julie Christie, Edith Evans and Michael Redgrave (as W.B. Yeats), although the best performance is from Maggie Smith as Nora, O’Casey’s unlikely romantic interest.

Ryan’s Daughter (1970)

Director David Lean

This complex epic, filmed around Kerry’s coastline, is one of David Lean’s least admired films. Although it was a big box office success and was nominated for several BAFTAs, critics were damning, and David Thomson described it as “bad as any film any ‘great’ director ever made”. Forget the carping, it’s one of Lean’s most interesting films, with moments of passion worthy of Madame Bovary. The two sex scenes – the horrifically awkward wedding night between Charles (Robert Mitchum) and Rosy (Sarah Miles), and her fling with the British soldier (Christopher Jones) in the forest – are unlike anything else in Lean’s canon.

Common themes in Irish culture – British oppression, the dominance of religion – breathe through the narrative. While the cruel villagers, who taunt the disabled Michael (John Mills, who won an Oscar for the role) and, at the end, attack Rosy in the most disturbing scene of Lean’s work, verge too strongly towards caricature, the themes of intolerance and prejudice still resonate.

Poitín (1977)

Director Bob Quinn

Poitín is the first Irish-language feature, a tough black comedy is set in Connemara, the same district where The Quiet Man was filmed, although tonally Poitín is on another planet. Unlike in John Ford’s film, there are no loveable villagers here, although there are plenty of drunks (poitín is a potent distilled liquor). Almost every character is despicable, and the film provoked negative reactions from viewers on its TV broadcast on St Patrick’s Day in 1979.

Two crooks attempt to outwit an old moonshiner and his daughter, but find they are way out of their depth in this story of avarice and cruelty. Cyril Cusack plays the elderly bootlegger, and Niall Tóibín and Dónal McCann are excellent as the greedy lowlifes. A particularly arresting scene shows the two criminals pelting each other with rotting potatoes, and the subversion of the perceived national identity of Ireland is scathing.

The Dead (1987)

Director John Huston

James Joyce is an author whose work is often classified as ‘unfilmable’. Although Joseph Strick’s 1968 stab at Ulysses is underrated, The Dead is by far the most successful, taking a short story from Dubliners and transforming it into a stunning mediation on love and loss. After a long party, Gabriel Conroy (Donal McCann) and his wife (Anjelica Huston) return home, where she reveals how, after hearing a song at the party, she is experiencing the powerful memories of the love she had for a man now long dead.

The film has added poignancy, as it was the last film made by John Huston, who directed it from his wheelchair. A number of great Irish stage actors appear in the film, although perhaps the finest moment comes from the director’s daughter, seen listening to the fateful song on the stairway, swimming in overwhelming memories long suppressed. It’s a masterpiece.

My Left Foot (1989)

Director Jim Sheridan

Jim Sheridan, perhaps Ireland’s most important director, had a terrific run of five films from 1989-2003, including the powerful and poetic The Field (1990), featuring one of Richard Harris’s best performances, the passionate Guildford Four drama In the Name of the Father (1993), and the lovely and deeply moving immigrant tale In America (2003). His debut, My Left Foot, is one of his best, and won Oscars for its stars, Daniel Day Lewis and Brenda Fricker.

Day-Lewis plays Christy Brown, the celebrated writer and painter, who had cerebral palsy and was only able to write and paint with his left foot. The film takes in his tough early life in 1940s Dublin – a third Oscar should have gone to Hugh O’Conor as the young Christy – and his eventual success as an artist. Although able-bodied actors playing disabled characters is increasingly becoming outdated, Day-Lewis gives a powerhouse performance, making Christy a strong and often confrontational character rather than a pitiable victim, and Fricker is superb as his supportive mother.

Into the West (1992)

Director Mike Newell

When their grandfather shows up with a white horse to their grim estate in Ballymun, two young brothers head off into the west of Ireland, regarding it as the last frontier, as in the western films they love. Their widowed father, formerly ‘The King of Irish Travellers’, sets off after them and reconnects with his own heritage. The film’s redemptive climax, channeling magical realism, takes place on the Atlantic coast.

Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin are the adult leads, but its the naturalistic performances of Ciarán Fitzgerald and Rúaidhrí Conroy that are most memorable. Despite the serious themes of grief and poverty, it’s also a very funny film, with a great script from Jim Sheridan. The scene where the two lads break into a cinema is particularly delightful.

Adam & Paul (2004)

Director Lenny Abrahamson

Over a decade before his Osar nomination for Room (2015), Lenny Abrahamson kickstarted his career with this Beckett-influenced story of two drug-addicted men wandering around Dublin in search of their next fix. As with many of the best Irish comedies, the tone is dark throughout, veering from slapstick to gallows humour. Adam (Mark O’Halloran, who wrote the screenplay) and, especially, Paul (Tom Murphy) may be funny, but they are also unsympathetic. In the most disturbing scene, they rob a young man with Down’s Syndrome.

O’Halloran and Murphy make for a terrific double-act, and the screenplay zings with wit. The last scene – no spoiler here – will linger long in every viewer’s mind.

Calvary (2014)

Director John Michael McDonagh

Brendan Gleeson, one of Ireland’s greatest living actors, gave a performance of great wit in John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard (2011), but his second film with the director is even more impressive. He plays Father James, who, in the opening scene, listens to a confession from an unknown parishioner who says he will kill the priest as punishment for the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of another clergyman, now dead. There are plenty of suspects, but Calvary is much more interested in exploring themes of religion, and the declining reputation and influence of the Catholic church.

The performances are superb, from Gleeson on career-best form to supporting roles from actors previously best known as comedians, such as Dylan Moran as a loathsome squire and Chris O’Dowd as a bullish butcher. The last ten minutes are overpoweringly moving. Calvary was filmed in various locations around Sligo.

  • Watch Calvary on BFI Player

Song of the Sea (2014)

Director Tomm Moore

Tomm Moore has put Irish animation firmly on the international map. His family films have delighted audiences and critics, and explore Irish folklore and legend. The Secret of Kells (2009) was a strong debut, and was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature, but his second film is one of the best animated works of the last decade.

After giving birth to her daughter, a mother disappears from her home on a remote island by the Irish coast, sending the father into depression, while the two children move in with their grandmother. It soon becomes clear that there is something magical about the girl, and the film is whirled into a world of selkies, faeries and witches. While Studio Ghibli is a clear influence, this is a uniquely Irish tale, and confirms the talent of one of the world’s greatest living animators.

  • Watch Song of the Sea on BFI Player