Movie Mom

Movie Mom

St. Patrick’s Day Movies: Eireann go Brea!

posted by Nell Minow

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here are five great movies from or set in Ireland to enjoy:

1. The Quiet Man John Wayne plays American Sean Thornton (John Wayne), who returns to in Innisfree, the small, beautiful Irish village where he was born, to buy his family’s old home. He meets fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), courts her, marries, her, and then really has to win her as both must learn some lessons about intimacy, pride, and trust. Yes, there are some moments that seem sexist but the underlying story is as glorious as the spectacular landscape and as touching as the endearing characters.


2. The Secret of Roan Inish A little Irish girl named Fiona goes to stay with her grandparents and becomes convinced that her baby brother, whose cradle was carried off to sea years before, is alive and being cared for by Selkies, seals who can transform themselves into humans. This is a quiet film, filled with lovely images that convey the magic surrounding anyone who believes in it. It explores themes of loyalty and commitment to family and following your heart.


3. The Commitments A group of hardscrabble Irish musicians come together to firm an American-style soul band and perform songs like “Mustang Sally” and “Try a Little Tenderness.” Look for future Frames and Once performer Glen Hansard in the group. (Mature material)


4. Once The best song Oscar went to this bittersweet film about an Irish musician (Glen Hansard) who meets a pianist and singer (Markéta Irglová) from the Czech Republic.


5. Millions The Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire,” Danny Boyle, also shows his gift for working with children in “Millions,” the story of a young boy who finds a bag of money.


  • jestrfyl

    O, and you left out “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” – or James Bond & the Leprechauns. I’m sure this was simply an oversight.

  • qube

    What more great movies you can suggest from or set in Ireland to enjoy? Thanks!

  • Mary Keeley

    Thanks for reminding me of “The Secret of Roan Inish”!!!
    One of my all-time favorite Irish films. Love “The Committments” have the sound track on my Ipod as well as the tunes from “Once.”
    Really terrific films. “Millions” is delightful as well. Not a big fan of “The Duke”, but the scenery in “The Quiet Man” is great. How could it be otherwise?? It’s Ireland! These are all lovely, charming films. There are also some other films shot in Ireland that are very good, but they have to do with “The Troubles”, so if you want to have a cheerful St. Pat’s day, the ones you listed are better. But sometime, you folks out there,
    get a film called “The Wind That Shakes The Barley.” You WILL weep, but the performances are amazing and the history lesson is very good–one we should not forget.
    ‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!–

  • Nell Minow

    Jestrfyl, “Darby O’Gill” scared the heck out of me when I was a kid — oh, that banshee! — but it is a treat to see a young and very handsome Sean Connery, especially when he sings! Mary, I thought I’d leave out “Troubles” films on this list but of course you are right and there are many fine ones. Qube, other Irish films to recommend would be “The Snapper,” “In the Name of the Father,” “Bloody Sunday,” “The General,” and “My Left Foot.” Enjoy!

  • Christian Toto

    What sold me permanently on director Danny Boyle was “Millions” — what a terrific movie, one perfect for the whole family … and one that doesn’t pander and fall clumsily into the “kid picture” category.
    And any excuse to salute “Once” is fine by me.

  • Wendy

    One of my favorites: Into the West (Mike Newell 1992).

  • Alicia

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Nell. “The Quiet Man” is my favorite John Wayne movie, and “Once” and “The Secret of Roan Inish” are charming movies. I would also highly recommend “The Snapper” and “My Left Foot.”

  • Dave

    Nell — So cool that you listed The Quiet Man first on your list of St. Patty’s movies. I’m like Alicia, it’s my personal favorite John Wayne movie, he and Maureen O’Hara play off each other so well, not to mention the dynamic with Victor McLaughlin. That movie is a St. Patty’s viewing tradition for me.

  • Nell Minow

    Alicia and Dave — it’s my favorite John Wayne movie, too. My husband and I grew up in Chicago, where WGN showed it every year on St. Patrick’s Day and so it is a tradition for us, too. I love it more every time.

  • Alicia

    Thanks for all the recommendations – I’ve added “Millions” and “Into the West” to my Netflix queue.
    I love “The Quiet Man,” Nell and Dave. It’s a movie that I find has unexpected depths, and I never tire of it.

  • Nell Minow

    I agree, Alicia, and I am so glad we agree on “The Quiet Man.” It bugs me when people object to it for superficial reasons. I think it is very wise.

  • Grainne

    Firstly, as an Irish person, I feel I should correct your phonetic spelling, its actually Eireann go brea. Secondly, the best films to give a vaguely accurate depiction of Irish life and in insight into Irish humour & sensebilities would be the film versions of Roddy Doyles’ Barrytown trilogy (that is The Commitments, The Snapper & The Van). Also Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa which features a usually impressive turn from Meryl Streep who actually manages to do a decent Irish accent. Intermission is hilarious and features a great emsemble cast including Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy & Colm Meany. The true story film Veronica Guerin starring Cate Blanchet & Brenda Fricker. Bloody Sunday gives a heart wrenching insight into the troubles in Northern Ireland, as do Some Mothers Son (starring Helen Mirren & Fionnuala Flanagan), In the Name of the Father and Omagh. 32A starring Aidan Quinn, Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson & Julia Roberts, The Magdalene Laundries, Mickey bo & Me, The Boys & girl from County Clare and The Matchmaker are all well worth a look too.
    ones to avoid are Ordinary Decent Criminal starring Kevin Spacey(dreadful acting & accents and wholey innacurate and Hollywood-ised version of a true story); instead opt for The General starring Brendan Gleeson & Jon Voight which is based on the same events, but has far more integrety as a piece of Irish Cinema. Evelyn starring Pierce Brosnan & Julianna Margulies – ham acting all the way, try Song for a Raggy Boy starring Aidan Quinn instead. Avoid at all costs Far & Away starring Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman, Cruise’s performances is widely regarded as the worst portrayal of an Irish person ever – utterly dreadful.
    And anything with unknown American actors as leprechauns with scottish accents – pure drivel!!

  • Grainne

    Sorry, I left out a really good one – Agnes Brown starring Angelica Houston. Its set in innercity Dublin in the 1960’s it gives serious & potentially depressing topics such as poverty, hardship & death the typical Irish humour treatment – really good craic & well worth watching.

  • Nell Minow

    These are great comments, Grainne! I love the Roddy Doyle movies, especially “The Commitments.” And I endorse all of your recommendations (and your criticism of “Far and Away”).

  • declan

    The Quiet Man is sexist? But thats they way the people were and some still are. There was no such thing as political correctness in those days. good list of films and clips and comments.

  • Donna Cregg

    Awesome list! I’m really excited to see White Irish Drinkers. It’s coming out next month and it looks so good. Its about an Irish family in Brooklyn and got great reviews so far.

  • Robert Murphy

    Most of the Irish and Irish-American movies that I’ve seen leave “something to be desired,” as my grandparents would say.
    The movies are often filled with old prejudices and stereotypes, or, much too easily, they slip past some difficult issues that need a bit more attention…. I’ll accept most of the movies that have already been noted above…. For some insight into the politics of 1919-23, try “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” For more recent difficulties, try “In the Name of the Father.” It’s a wonderful movie, with some hard moments, but, yes, there’s a happy ending.
    “Dancing at Lughnasa” has some happy moments and, then, suddenly there’s a hard reality to confront at the end. I’ve shown the movie to young people who are shocked, but I have to say, “Well, that’s the way that it was, for a lot of families, until very recently.”

  • MP Hopkins

    Dancing at Lugnasa is so poignant. If ya want a good laugh, don’t miss “Waking Ned Devine”. I’ve watched it with my girls and brought their friends to hear the marvelous wit.

  • Wally

    One I remember as a kid…still one of my favorite movies, even a 100 years later….Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People!

  • J. Cullen

    How can you leave out the great musical…Finian’s Rainbow? Great story and wonderfull songs & music. Fred Astaire & Petula Clark give it a magical substance. See it one day and enjoy.

  • Nell Minow

    Excellent suggestions, everyone, thanks!

  • Brian

    While “In America” was not “in Ireland” its depiction of an Irish immigrant family in NYC and their relationship with an African immigrant was entertaining, touching but awful sad at the end.
    I thought “Darby O’Gill was a documentary?
    “Veronica Guerin” was a great film that was more than entertaiment.Its timing, during the periods when Russian journalists were being murdered, was it coincidental?
    No one nominated “Leprechaun”?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Scott Coffield

    How is it that everyone overlooked an epic movie called “Ryan’s Daughter”, which was filmed on the western coast of Ireland, and is a fictional story with a background based on real Irish history.

    • Nell Minow

      Excellent addition, Mr. Coffield! Many thanks.

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