Film picks to celebrate the Irish holiday
by Justine Jane Taft
It’s St. Patrick’s Day and what better way to celebrate than indulging in some of the greatest films of all time? Here is our list of top 20 Irish films. No matter what your preference, there’s a film here for you!
#20 Patrick (TV 2004)
Narrated by the fabulous Liam Neeson and Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, Patrick is one of the best documentaries about St. Patrick — today’s namesake.
#19 Angela’s Ashes (1999)
Based on the bestselling autobiography by Frank McCourt, and starring Emily Watson, this film provides an insightful look into life for Ireland’s working class in the 1930’s and 40’s.
#18 In the Name of the Father (1993)
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, this film tells the story of the Guildford Four and their wrongful imprisonment in the 1970’s.
#17 Leap Year (2010)
Leap Year stars Amy Adams as an American who travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend because a man proposed to on a Leap Day must accept it.
#16 Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)
Meryl Streep stars as one of five sisters trying to make the most out of their lives in rural Ireland in the 1930’s.
#15 The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
10-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents and discovers a secret family legend that they are descended from a selkie — a seal who can turn into a human.
#14 Leapin’ Leprechauns (1995)
A young boy discovers his family’s land is home to a fairy mound, and they are not happy that his father wants to build a theme park on top of their home!
#13 Leprechaun (1993)
Warwick Davis stars as a sociopath leprechaun who goes on a killing streak. If you’re into horror movies you’ve got the luck of the Irish as this film has five sequels!
#12 Waking Ned Divine (1998)
Ned Divine wins the lottery and dies from the shock, and the locals rally to try and claim the money with a substitute Ned.
#11 Michael Collins (1996)
Biopic of the Irish politician, this film stars Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn and Julia Roberts.
#10 Luck of the Irish (2001)
Teenager Kyle Johnson is faced with the revelation that his mother’s family are secretly leprechauns!
#9 Boondocks Saints (1999)
Two Irish vigilantes set out to rid Boston of crime while being pursued by the FBI. If you like this then you might also like the 2009 sequel The Boondocks Saints II: All Saint’s Day
#8 Cinderella Man (2005)
This Academy Award winning film stars Russell Crowe as James Braddock — a washed up boxer in the 1930’s who makes a surprising comeback to become a boxing champion while inspire a nation. If Cinderella Man inspires you, you can also watch the 2005 documentary Cinderella Man: The Real Jim Braddock Story.
#7 Some Mother’s Son (1996)
Starring Helen Mirren, this film follows several members of the 1981 hunger strike and the effect it had on the families of the prisoners. You can also check out the 2008 film Hunger, a biopic focussed not just on the hunger strike, but also on its leader Bobby Sands.
#6 Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)
Starring Albert Sharpe and a young Sean Connery, it follows Darby O’Gill and his relationship with the leprechauns and his ongoing match of wits with the king of the leprechauns. This film is an oldie, but a goodie perfect for the entire family
#5 P.S. I Love You (2007) (
Based on the best-selling novel by Cecelia Ahern, this film stars Hilary Swank as a widow who receives letters her husband wrote before his death to help her cope. Also stars Gerard Butler, James Marsters, Kathy Bates, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Harry Connick Jr. and Lisa Kudrow.
#4 Gangs of New York (2002)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis tell the story of an orphan child who grows up to seek revenge on his father’s killer.
#3 The Boys and Girl from County Clare (2003)
Two brothers return home to challenge each other to win a local music competition and comedy ensues.
#2 The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Cillian Murphy stars as a young man whose family and friends are torn apart as they each take different sides of the rebellion.
#1 The Secret of Kells (2009)
This animated feature was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The film follows a young boy and the creation of the infamous Book of Kells. Family oriented, this film is the #1 must see Irish film.
Don’t have time for a full film? Check out an episode of Father Ted, a comedy about three priests and their housekeeper or the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Up the Long Ladder” where the crew of the Enterprise encounter a group of Irish immigrants in space!