There are some movies about the Irish Famine everyone should watch if they wish to understand the true horror of what occurred during Ireland’s darkest hour.
The Great Famine, also commonly known as the Irish Potato Famine, occurred from 1845 to 1852 and was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland.
This horrendous time had devasting consequences which forever changed the country’s political, demographic, and cultural landscape.
It is still widely remembered in the Irish psyche to this day. In this article, we will list what we believe to be the top five movies about the Irish Famine everyone should watch.
5. An Ranger (2008) – discovering the horror of the Famine
An Ranger is an Irish language short film set in Connemara in 1854, two years after the Irish Famine had come to an end.
The film tells the story of an Irishman who returns home after years abroad in service of the British Army.
What he discovers is his country in utter devastation as it still reels from the effects of the Famine. He also finds that his family have all tragically died.
It is one of the best Irish movies to outline the history and does an excellent job of depicting the horror of the Famine and the devastation of its aftermath.
This film was warmly received and was later developed into the full-fledged film titled Black 47, which was released in 2018.
4. The Great Irish Famine (1996) – a documentary looking at the devastation of the Famine
The Great Irish Famine documentary looks at the devastation of the Irish Famine and focuses on several things; how it occurred, the impact it had on Ireland, and also the impact it had on the world.
In particular, the impact on the United States due to the mass migration that occurred there from Ireland.
While the documentary is somewhat dated by today’s standards, it’s still worth a watch as it covers a variety of interesting and important topics.
3. Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora (2015) – exploring the factors that led to the Famine
Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora is the second documentary film on our list and is one that explores the historical and socio-political circumstances that led to the Famine and the devastation and death that followed it.
The documentary is narrated by acclaimed Irish actor Gabriel Byrne and includes contributions from famine scholars, descendants of famine survivors, and emigrants.
2. Arracht (2019) – the story of a broken man in a broken time
Arracht, which means ‘Monster’ in English, is a film that is set in 1845 in Ireland as the Famine begins.
The film tells the story of fisherman Colmán Sharkey whose potato crops are ravaged by the Famine. He goes on to be wrongly blamed for the murder of a cruel local landlord and is forced to go on the run.
While living in a cave on a remote rocky island on the West Coast of Ireland as he evades capture, Colmán grieves for his wife and child who died in his absence.
Eventually, Colmán takes a sickly young girl under his wing, and life gets better until the real murderer, now a bounty hunter, reappears.
1. Black ’47 (2018) – a western set during the Irish Famine
In first place on our list of movies about the Irish Famine everyone should watch is Black ’47. It can be best described as a classic western set against the backdrop of the Irish Famine.
Black ’47 is the full reimagined feature film of the short film An Ranger, which was number five on our list. It tells the story of the Connaught Ranger Martin Feeney returning to his homeland in more detail.
It is revealed that he has deserted his post in Calcutta, and a British Officer is assigned to apprehend him.
The 2018 adaptation of the older film depicts the brutality of the Famine and doesn’t shy away from showing how badly innocent people suffered.
That concludes our article on what we believe to be the top five movies about the Irish Famine everyone should watch at least once. Have you seen any of them?
Other notable mentions
The Hunger: The Story of The Irish Famine: This is a TV series about the Famine narrated by Liam Neeson. It cleverly combines old images and modern-day Ireland to tell the sordid tale of the Famine.
The Famine House: This was a 2019 docudrama about the Strokestown House, whose grounds now hold the Famine Museum. The drama spans 400 years and includes the dark times of the Famine to modern-day.
FAQs about the Irish Famine
When was the Famine in Ireland?
The terrible starvation that was the Famine occurred between 1845 and 1852.
What caused the Irish Famine?
The Great Famine was caused by a failure of the potato crop, which many people relied on for most of their nutrition.
How many people died during the Famine?
As a result of the Famine, over 1 million people lost their lives.