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Watch Me, I’m Irish: 10 Movies For Your St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

Watch Me, I'm Irish: 10 Movies For Your St. Patrick's Day Weekend

While clearly St. Patrick’s Day is more about pints of Guinness than it is about movies, here’s a list of 10 films that, in one way or another, celebrate the Emerald Isle. Perfect for those fed up with Irish-fueled debauchery — or who need material to invent drinking games for at-home celebrations. 

Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass, 2002)
If you’re having a rough post-St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, let Paul Greengrass put things in perspective with his vivid, compelling “Bloody Sunday.” Taking on the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” shootings in Derry, the film uses the citizens’ version of the events to tell story in a pseudo-documentary style. Winner of the audience award at Sundance and the Golden Bear in Berlin, this powerful film provides an Irish history lesson to match your Irish hangover.

The Commitments (Alan Parker, 1991)
Voted the best Irish film of all time by a 2005 poll sponsored by none other than Jameson Irish Whiskey, the film adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s beloved novel — and its soundtrack — were cultural sensations back in the early 1990s. And with good reason. The story of a group of unemployed Dubliners who form a soul band, “The Committments” is a charming, joyous ode to the power of music. Featuring a cast of then-unknown actors and musicians, it also launched the careers of none other than Colm Meaney, Glen Hansard and The Corrs.

The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)
By now you probably know the big twist (or have already seen the film), which admittedly takes a bit away from the “Crying Game” experience. But even with that knowledge, “The Crying Game” is an exceptional psychological thriller worth revisiting. Starring Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Forest Whitaker and Jaye Davidson, the film follows a IRA member who becomes romantically intertwined with the girlfriend of one of his prisoners. One of Harvey Weinstein’s earliest Oscar triumphs, the old Miramax turned this into a sleeper hit and best picture nominee via a very clever campaign revolving around the film’s big reveal.

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
The film that introduced many of us to both Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender, the duo’s pre-“Shame” collaboration is the newest entry on this list. Continuing the trend of filmmaking influenced by The Troubles, “Hunger” takes place during the 1981 Irish hunger strike. It follows Bobby Sands (Fassbender), the imprisoned IRA volunteer who led the second IRA hunger strike. Not exactly an easy film to stomach (especially in its final act), it might be the least-hangover friendly film on this list.

Intermission (John Crowley, 2003)
What would an Irish-themed film list be without something starring Colin Farrell? Alongside Cillian Murphy, Kelly MacDonald, Shirley Henderson and the aforementioned Colm Meaney, Farrell leads an exceptional ensemble in this dark comic gem. Set in Dublin, it follows the lives of a group of mostly nasty people whose lives interwine via both romance and crime. Seen by few in its limited 2003 release, its wicked tone is perfectly suited to compliment some St. Patrick’s Day weekend debauchery.

Once (John Carney, 2007)
Starring Glen Hansard as a Dublin busker and Marketa Irglova as the young Czech immigrant flower seller he falls in love with, “Once” features some of the most affectionate original songs (one of which, “Falling Slowly,” won an Academy Award) ever heard in an indie film — Irish or otherwise. So if you’d like to give your St. Patrick’s Day a boost of uplifting Irish musical romance, look no further. Endlessly charming, “Once” has already become a genuine Irish classic.

The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, 2002)
A fictionalized account of “the Magdalene Laundries,” Peter Mullan’s harrowing film shows where women who were labelled “fallen” by their families or society (for flirting with boys, getting pregnant out of wedlock or even being raped) were sent in 1960s Ireland. Exploring institutional cruelty placed on women via the Catholic Church of Ireland, this winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival gives us yet another glimpse into Ireland’s dark history.

My Left Foot (Jim Sheridan, 1989)
The debut film from veteran Irish director Jim Sheridan (whose “In The Name of the Father,” “The Boxer” and “In America” are surely strong runners up to this list), “My Left Foot” was recently brought back into mainstream conversations thanks to clips of actress Gabourey Sidibe proclaiming her love for it during this year’s Academy Awards. And it’s clear to see where the enthusiasm is coming from. Itself an Oscar winner for best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and best supporting actres (Brenda Fricker), this true story of an Irishman born with cerebral palsy is a powerful, riveting biopic deserving of both Sidibe’s praise and your St. Patty’s Day time.

The Snapper (Stephen Frears, 1993)
The second adaptation from Roddy Doyle’s “Barrytown Trilogy” novels on this list (the other being “The Commitments”), and the third to star Colm Meaney, Stephen Frears’ “The Snapper” follows a young woman (Tina Kellegher) who gets pregnant but refuses to tell anyone in her family who the father is. Her family comes to accept it anyway, and what results is a delightful, funny ode to an Irish family.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Ken Loach’s war drama is set during the Irish War of Independence, and stars Cillian Murphy and Padriac Delaney as two brothers who join the IRA to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom. Gripping and thought-provoking, it’s one of Loach’s best films and one of the more challenging options on this list — and not exactly Irish hangover material. Unless nothing says waking up after 10 pints of Guinness like “winner of the Palme d’Or.”

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Think KATHY needs to chill out and have a pint of stout, (Colm, County Tyrone)


Surely "I Went Down" should be on here. It's early Gleeson at his finest. Still not on DVD, which is a damn shame.




should keep us busy for a while, eh!


State Of Grace!, a must!


BOONDOCK SAINTS!!!! Not a great list here.


don't forget the excellent The Guard


Thanks for including Intermission. Treat it as the most ever coolest Irish film. Colin Ferrel is a pretty good actor by all means. And there are bunch of actors I like a lot are Irish, such as Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers.


FYI, St Patrick's Day is not an excuse to get drunk. St. Paddy's Day is one of the oldest ethnic pride festivals in America. It gave hope to an oppressed people. Our heritage as the underdog has given many of us a burning desire to quash the status quo. People of Irish descent have been involved in virtually every social justice movement, from labor rights to women's rights to civil rights to environmental justice to gay/lesbian rights.


There's a problem with your list. Only two of the ten films have female leads. All the others are male-centric. Ireland, just like the rest of the world, needs to respect the creative leadership of half of its citizens. We need great Irish films with female leads NOW. No excuses.


Hello — The Butcher Boy? And, as you have the other two of Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy on your list why not the hilarious The Van?


State of Grace.


The Field, In the Name of the Father,


ha hah add them to the list! xox


The Guard has to be added to this list.


Sarandon. Sorry for the typo.


And don't forget the soulful Emmy Award winning documentary HOME about the Irish in NYC with Liam Neeson, Mike Myers, Susan Sarancon, The McCourts and Pete Hamill.

Wieland Schulz-Keil

I like your choices, but I feel John Huston´s The Dead merits a place on your list. (I am not saying this because I produced it.)

James Rutenbeck

& where is Peter Ormrod's Eat the Peach?

Maggie Taylor

You forgot my fave Irish film – Mike Newell's Into the West – and the wonderful scene of an Irish pony getting into a lift in a rundown housing estate. Brilliant tone and charming and about to be remade – though maybe best still seen in the original with Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Birkin.

Also what about the wonderful Brendan Gleeson starrer – the recent The Guard????

peter knegt

This list is by no means definitive… Waking Ned Devine, The Secret of Roan Inish, The Guard, In Bruges (though I did feel the fact it isn't set in Ireland made it reasonable to leave off) all definitely warrant attention. Four Weddings and Funeral, though, is definitely not Irish.


Waking Ned Devine. duh

Rory-Owen Delaney

Take off the fightin' movies?! What an uniquely TERRIBLE idea. It's a decent list but y'all forgot a bunch of goodies including The Guard and In Bruges by the McDonagh Brothers. Also what happened to The Departed? A great movie to watch drunk would be 1959's Darby O'Gill and the Little People.


where's 'four weddings & a funeral'!??

Kirk Harris

A lost charmer "Da" woulda made a great addition too.

James Bryson

How about you take the fightin' Irish movies off, and add "The Secret of Roan Inish"? It's a 7.3 at IMDB and good for a family.

Barbara McGovern

Great recommendations. You can see the John Ford classic film "The Quiet Man" at the Boston Irish Film Festival on Sunday March 25 at 2pm, Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA. Stephen Rea, actor in The Crying Game is appearing at the US opening of his new film "Stella Days" too. Slainte!

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