As the old Irish saying goes, “There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were.” Are there any movies that make you wish you could celebrate St. Patrick’s Day back in the homeland? From rural castles to bustling Dublin street scenes, we’ve compiled our favorite movies about Ireland. (Note: we’re not including movies about Irish immigrants in America, though you can certainly watch In America and Brooklyn when you’re finished!)
Set in Dublin, Ireland, Once is a romantic film that follows two struggling musicians who fall in love. The movie won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film, and its original song “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It’s not surprising that Once has also spawned a Tony Award-winning musical! Many of the film’s scenes were shot in the streets of Dublin, such as the famous Grafton Street — and filmmakers were on such a tight budget they didn’t get permits. As a result, some pedestrians never even knew a film was being made, so Once is as authentically Dublin as you can get.
Sing Street (2016)
Another one of our favorite musical movies about Ireland is Sing Street, which was also directed by Once helmer John Carney. It tells the story of Conor, a Dublin teenager who decides to start a band to impress the girl he’s in love with. Filmed in the city of Dublin, St. Catherine’s Park, and Dalkey Island, it features that classic Irish ponder-life-while-you-stand-on-a-cliff-beside-the-sea moment. The movie, which earned a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, is currently streaming on Netflix.
Waking Ned Devine (1998)
One of our favorite movies about Ireland is Waking Ned Devine, a comedy that follows two elderly best friends who discover that someone in their tiny (and fictional) Irish town has won the National Lottery. Ironically, the film wasn’t shot in Ireland: it was filmed on the Isle of Man, a tiny island that lies between Britain and Ireland in the Irish Sea. Called “delightful” by critics, the movie involves both pig farming and a person getting thrown off a cliff while still in a phone booth. We won’t spoil any more!
Leap Year (2010)
The Amy Adams romantic comedy Leap Year may not have gotten stellar reviews, but it’s a beautiful tourism campaign for Ireland. It follows the story of Anna, who travels to Ireland because an old tradition says that if a woman proposes to a man during a leap year, he must accept it. Once there, her plans get complicated when she meets a surly-yet-sexy man named Declan (played by Matthew Goode). Leap Year was filmed in Dublin as well as County Mayo, County Galway, the Aran Islands, Connemara, Temple Bar, Georgian Dublin, Wicklow National Park, and Olaf Street, Waterford. Writes reviewer Claudia Puig in USA Today: “What saves it from being completely dismissible drivel are the gorgeous Irish locations and the charm of its stars, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.” It’s currently streaming on Netflix.
The darkly comic Calvary follows a small-town Irish priest who gets some surprising news during confession: a man wants him dead. One of the most underrated movies of 2014, Calvary earned an impressive 90% on Rotten Tomatoes! It’s set in the town of Easkey in County Sligo, where much of the movie was actually filmed. You can also catch some shots of Streedagh beach, Ardgillian Castle, and Dublin.
The Young Offenders (2016)
Also streaming on Netflix, action-adventure comedy The Young Offenders tells the story of two Irish teens who steal bikes and set out to find 7 million Euro worth of cocaine that’s gone missing after a ship capsized off the coast of West Cork. The movie is inspired by the true story of Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure, which took place in 2007. Unlike so many movies about Ireland that are filmed in Dublin, The Young Offenders gives us a glimpse of County Cork, in the country’s Southwest corner.
Are you inspired to journey to that special green place across the sea? Which of these movies about Ireland is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!