14 Favorite Irish Movies

Anticipation is one of the best parts of any trip. So, here are my picks for Movies to get you in the Irish Mood. Take yourself on a mini-vacation and visit Ireland first on the big screen – without the jet-lag or the price-tag.
Let me introduce you the five categories:

American goes to Ireland

Kid Appropriate with Great Scenery

The Music Scene – not Musicals

Thriller – Socio-Political Content

PBS Series – Irish Soap Opera

First, my listings in each category and then a brief review of my ‘five faves’. Scroll down to check for titles to add to your Netflix queue.

American goes to Ireland

The Matchmaker *(comedy)

The Brylcreem Boys (Actually a Brit & German in Ireland)

The Nephew

Great Scenery – Kid-friendly

Waking Ned Devine* (comedy)

Secret of Roan Inish – (animal stars are seals)

Shergar – (racehorse is the star)

The Music Scene

The Commitments* (comedy)


Riverdance: either Best of DVD or Live from Radio City Music Hall

Thriller – Socio-Political Content

The Boxer

An Everlasting Piece* (comedy)

Hidden Agenda

Michael Collins

Veronica Guerin

Ballykissangel ****Series I, II, III, IV and V

PBS Series with a wonderful cast of characters and great writing that you can enjoy over again even when you’re familiar with the story lines. Set in fictional Ballykissangel, the actual location is Avoca, just south of Dublin.

Scroll down for summaries of my ‘four favourite films’ to use the Irish phrase:

Favorite The Matchmaker

A Massachusetts senator sends his aide (Janeane Garofalo) to Ireland to find some relatives so he can court the Irish-American vote in his re-election campaign. Arriving in the fictional Ballinagra, (Town of Love) Garofalo finds herself in the midst of the annual matchmaking festival. In case you’re wondering, there is indeed such a festival in Lisdoonvarna Co-Clare, during the month of September. Garofalo has trouble finding any would-be relatives for the senator, but makes a romantic connection with an Irish writer who has a day job as bartender. The movie plays on contrasts in lifestyle between the easy-going Irish and fast-paced Boston-America.

Favorite Waking Ned Devine

Ned Devine is the winner of the national lottery who dies from the shock when he discovers he’s hit the jackpot. His friends, Jackie and Michael cook up a scheme to impersonate the dead man and collect his prize money. But to pull it off, they need to persuade the rest of the village to cooperate. This film has typical west coast scenery, and portrays authentic Irish characters. Title refers to the wake or final send-off for Ned. The final scene, when all loose ends are taken care of  – is just amazing visual cinema – but I can’t give it away and ruin the movie!

Favorite: The Commitments

There are a number of wonderful Riverdance DVDs when you crave some traditional Irish music and dance. However, the my two favorite movies deal with different music styles. In The Commitments, the main character, Jimmy Rabbitte brings together a group of working class Dublin misfits and inspires them to create an American-style soul band. Though accents are tough to understand at times, the music and vocals are amazing. The plot centers on whether the band can survive personality conflicts and economic setbacks long enough to make it to the big time. Warning: there is strong language, with “effing’ this and ‘effing’ that” but you find yourself really caring about these 20-somethings who dare to dream big.

Favorite: An Everlasting Piece

Four of the other 5 movies in this category are set in Northern Ireland – Michael Collins is the exception. So the accent is very different, with more of a Scottish lilt. In An Everlasting Piece (note the spelling) two entrepreneurs, Colm and George try to set up a toupee business. Colm is a Catholic and George is a Protestant. So they are from different sides of the political fence and have to step thru the minefield of northern Irish politics. There are numerous scenes where you’re expecting the worst as they get in trouble with one cultural faction or the other.


So these are my recommendations. Hopefully, there’s one or two that appeal to you from the list – whether you want to anticipate or remember – or just watch a good movie. I invite you to try something else besides John Wayne and The Quiet Man next St Paddy’s Day!


You can, as long as you include this information with it:

Marian Joyce helps adventurous types to plan an authentic – yet affordable – Irish travel experience. Get your FREE copy of the special report ‘No More Jet Lag’ plus other travel tips, www.YanksGuideIRL.com.