It may be hard to tell the story of Ireland in 10 movies. Still, our list of films below will give you some of the best depictions of Irish history, culture, and beauty.
Ireland in ten movies is no easy feat. Ireland is a nation teeming with historical tales and tragedies, a bustling and unique culture. It is blessed with unrequited and unrestricted beauty in each of its 32 counties and four provinces.
One of the best ways to present all of this for the popular eye is in films, from Hollywood blockbusters right down to local favourites, all of which showcase the natural features of the Emerald Isle.
Here is the story of Ireland in ten movies.
10. The Secret of Kells (2009) – an animated phenomenon
Described as a “phenomenon” by The Irish Times, The Secret of Kells is a fantasy cartoon set in 9th-century Ireland, during the Viking era and in the prelude to the creation of the ancient Book of Kells, which now rests in Trinity College, Dublin.
The film by Tomm Moore is an Academy-Award-winner, and its mythological tales are emblematic of that very Irish tradition steeped in its culture.
9. The Quiet Man (1952) – an Irish love story
The story of Ireland is the theme running throughout this article of Irish movies, but one of the very best is the 1952 classic, The Quiet Man, starring legendary actor, John Wayne.
Wayne stars as an Irish-American boxer from Pittsburgh who returns to his ancestral home of Innisfree where he falls in love with Mary Kate Danaher, played by the iconic Maureen O’Hara.
8. In the Name of the Father (1994) – the story of the Guildford Four
Director Jim Sheridan depicts one of the most moving and tragic events of recent Irish history and beyond with this stirring movie.
It is based on the experiences of the ‘Guildford Four’, who were falsely convicted of the Guildford Bombings in 1974 and were later vindicated.
7. The Magdalene Sisters (2003) – exposing the Magdalene Laundries
Ranked five-stars by The Guardian, this is a movie that recounts the tragic experiences of young women in the Magdalene Laundries overseen by the Irish Catholic Church.
Much of Irish history in the 20th century can be told through the lens of the Catholic Church, and this is a powerful movie that exposes the ordeals that some felt at its hands.
6. The Butcher Boy (1997) – part of telling the story of Ireland in 10 movies
Based on the famous novel written by Patrick McCabe in 1992, the protagonist is a young, 12-year-old boy named Francie Brady.
It is an incredibly moving movie which recounts the demise of the young boy following the death of his mother, exposing abuse within the Catholic Church. It is also a visceral viewing of working-class culture in Ireland.
5. Michael Collins (1996) – a biopic of Ireland’s greatest figure
Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson as Collins, this is one of the all-time great Irish movies about an all-time great Irish figure.
As it is a drama, some events are sensationalised. Still, the storyline is accurate, and it depicts ‘The Big Fellow’s’ journey from the 1916 Easter Rising to Chairman of the Free State Government and his untimely death in 1922.
4. My Left Foot (1990) – the power of Daniel Day-Lewis
A winner of two Oscars, My Left Foot is one of the best Irish movies made, and it would be a travesty if it was omitted from the list that tells the story of Ireland in 10 movies.
It tells the story of Christy Brown (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) who had severe cerebral palsy. Unable to walk or talk, he becomes a writer and overcomes numerous personal tragedies, displaying grit, determination, and strength of character inherent in Irish culture.
3. Hunger (2008) – the story of Bobby Sands
The Hunger Strike of 1981 is one of the seminal moments in Irish history, and this movie is told through the eyes of a poet, revolutionary, and elected, MP Bobby Sands.
Michael Fassbender is superb in his role as Sands, who died on 5th May 1981. Sands is revered around the globe, and this is a much-watch for his and his comrades’ stories.
2. Brooklyn (2015) – looking for a home in New York City
Brooklyn is a romantic historical drama starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. It is based on the successful novel of the same name by author Colm Tóibín.
The film is set in 1951 with a young Offaly woman named Eilis Lacey (Ronan) seeking employment in New York City. This story has permeated Irish history and culture since the Famine.
1. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) – the tragedy of the Treaty split
Ken Loach’s outstanding The Wind that Shakes the Barley, starring Cillian Murphy, ranks number one on our list as it incorporates one of the most contentious times in Irish history. It champions Irish culture and displays the beauty of the Emerald Isle’s countryside.
It recounts the story of two brothers who fight for Irish independence but are ultimately torn apart by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, emblematic of the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 when former comrades took up arms against each other.