Whether it’s the lush green landscapes or the brogue that gets you, there’s something about films featuring Ireland and its people that gets me every time. These 10 movies made my top ten list because they carry me across the water every time I watch them to the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, natural beauty and sometimes sadness.
Irish Movie # 10: Finian’s Rainbow – 1968 – This musical is probably on the list because I had a chorus part in a stage production of this as a teenager. Still, it is a fun story of an Irish family who immigrates to America after finding and taking a leprechaun’s pot of gold. The leprechaun is in hot pursuit and all manner of mayhem breaks loose. It’s not really set in Ireland but is brings with it all the charm and tradition of the old country.
Irish Movie # 9: Darby O’Gill and the Little People – 1959 – A Disney film has made my list, saints preserve us! Darby O’Gill is a story teller and when he’s not working, spends his time in telling tales of leprechauns and banshees. A turn of events brings the Leprechaun King himself into Darby’s life and two begin a battle of wits with comical repercussions. The story has fantasy, action, romance, in short, a little of everything. While some footage was shot in Ireland, most of it was actually shot on a set; still the movie has an authentic feel and is good family fun.
Irish Movie # 8: Angela’s Ashes – 1999 – Based on the best-selling memoir by Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes traces the life of McCourt and his family beginning in Brooklyn. They are unable to survive their and return to Limerick, Ireland hoping to fare better but discover the poverty there is even worse. Set in the 1930’2 and 1940’s, the life McCourt is forced to lead is unimaginable by our standards today. It is raw, painful and a testament to what a man can endure and overcome.
Irish Movie #7: Michael Collins – 1996 – Liam Neeson gives life to the title character and with great passion. His life spent fighting for an Irish Republic; this is the story of his efforts and those of his comrades. Explosive, action-filled and inspiring, Michael Collins is a life worth examining.
Irish Movie # 6: P.S. I Love You – 2007 – Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler are Holly and Gerry, a young couple who’ve been together for 10 years and who argue constantly. When Gerry dies, Holly is devastated and unable to function. A series of messages begin arriving on her 30th birthday – from Gerry. He had prearranged this to help her through the grieving process which takes her on two trips to his birthplace, Ireland. It is a story of love, loss and rebirth and very touching.
Irish Movie # 5: The Matchmaker – 1997 – Janeane Garafolo and David O’Hara star in this romantic comedy. Marcy works for Senator McGLory who is struggling with his plans for re-election. He sends Marcy to Ireland to trace his family roots n hopes of stirring up some Irish votes. She arrives as the coastal town of Ballinagra is preparing for the annual Matchmaking Festival. Young and available, she becomes sought after. The story is funny, quirky and beautifully shot, making it one of my favorites.
Irish Movie # 4: The Devil’s Own – 1997 – With Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, how can you go wrong? Frankie McGuire (Pitt) sees his father gunned down as a boy and grows up to become part of the Provisional IRA. A tense shootout in the streets of Belfast leaves Frankie on the run. He is taken to a safe house and given a mission to procure surface-to-air missiles from America. Once there, he is put up with policeman Tom O’Meara (Ford) who knows nothing of Frankie’s past. Each struggles with his own duties and life while forming a tentative bond until the climax of the movie where all the beans are spilled. Excellent cat and mouse and plenty of action make this movie above average in my book.
Irish Movie # 3: Circle of Friends – 1995 – Circle of Friends is set in 1950s Ireland as three girlfriends are about to enter the university in Dublin. Bernadette, “Benny” to her friends, meets and falls in love with Jack Foley. Her friend, Nan, becomes pregnant but is dumped. Finding Jack drunk one night, Nan gets him to go home and have sex with her, then convincing him he is the father of her baby. He proposes out of obligation and Benny is crushed. Eve, the third friend figures it all out and set the wheels in motion to correct the mess. A heartrending story set in a beautiful place puts this film on my list. Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell star.
Irish Movie # 2: The Quiet Man – 1952 – John Wayne, in my favorite role, is Sean Thornton, an American boxer who has come to his birthplace, Inisfree, Ireland after killing a man accidently during a match. He is looking for a new, quieter life when he meets Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), a feisty, red-headed spinster with a spiteful lout of a brother. Thornton has hung up his gloves but it may take a fight to win the girl of his dreams. Lots of gorgeous countryside, 1 or 2 Irish songs in the background and a romance to remember – what more could you ask for?
Irish Movie # 1: Far and Away – 1992 – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are Irish-born; though he is of lesser class than she as her father owns the land which he and his family farm. When his father is killed, Joseph Donelly blames the landowner and sets out to find and kill him, bringing him in contact with Shannon Christie who desperately wants to avoid break free of the life her parents have planned for her by sailing to America to participate in a land grab. She enlists Joseph’s help and the two cross the ocean and ultimately America. They can’t stand each other at first but are dependent upon each other to survive. This movie is equal parts action and romance as the two fight each other and everyone else on their way to capture the American dream.
Source: Personal Viewing, IMDB