Top 40 Irish Movies to Watch Before you Visit
This is a personal list of my favourite Irish and filmed in Ireland movies. It is not meant to be definitive by any stretch of the imagination but I have seen all of these and although some are not brilliant pieces of cinematic art they are great fun, tragic, educational and above all will allow you to see Ireland in all its glory, good and bad.
There’s lots more information to be had on this site if you love Ireland like I do. Learn my Dublin Don’ts and Dublin Do’s before you go and check out the neighbourhoods in Dublin or where to dine. I have also got loads of information on touring various parts of Ireland from Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way to all kinds of day trips from Dublin such as Newgrange, Avoca Mills, Powerscourt. You could spend an eternity visiting and touring the sights in Ireland.
So before you visit here are some films to watch – 40 of my top Irish movies picks including:
The Quiet Man
A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love. If you can like the Facebook page for The Quiet Man – they are working to save the cottage used in the film which was abandoned and left to rot for several years.
The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin. The TV series Mrs Brown’s Boys was based on this movie, written by Brendan O’Carroll who now stars as Mrs Brown in the wildly popular TV show.
Anna Brady plans to travel to Dublin, Ireland to propose marriage to her boyfriend Jeremy on Leap Day, because, according to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on a leap day must accept it. The film was shot in County Wicklow, Dublin, County Mayo and County Galway, with filming taking place in and around the Aran Islands, Connemara, Temple Bar, Georgian Dublin, Wicklow National Park and Olaf Street, Waterford.
PS I LOVE YOU
A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life. Ignore Gerard’s lousy Irish accent. County Wicklow locations include Blessington Lakes, Lacken, Wicklow Mountains and The Sally Gap.
Waking Ned Devine
When a lottery winner dies of shock, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money. Not actually filmed in Ireland but a great Irish movie nevertheless.
American Women or The Closer you Get
Irish lads send an ad to the Miami Herald inviting fit and enticing women, between the ages of 20 and 21, to live in their isolated Donegal village. Filmed in Kincasslagh which is were the famous Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell hails from.
The Boys & Girl from County Clare
In 1965, Jimmy McMahon and his group of Liverpudlians plot to win the annual céilí music competition in Ireland. Sadly most of this was filmed on the Isle of Man.
1953. Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children
Circle of Friends
‘Circle Of Friends’ is set in 1950’s Ireland. The movie focuses on Benny Hogan and her best friend, Eve Malone. The story centers around Benny and Eve as they enter student life at Trinity Uni.
Into the West
Grandpa Ward gives a horse he found to his grandchildren, who keep it in their tower-block flat in Dublin. The horse is stolen from them, and the two young boys set out to find it and flee on it. Filming locations included: Wicklow Mountains, Ballymun, Dublin, the beaches of Mayo and Connemara.
A young woman, Tara Maguire (Robin Wright) scandalizes her provincial Irish village in the 1950s by having a baby out of wedlock, and refusing to name the father. This was filmed in the writer’s home village of Redhills, County Cavan.
Dancing at Lughnasa
Five unmarried sisters make the most of their simple existence in rural Ireland in the 1930s. Dancing was filmed in the Wicklow Mountains and is part of the Irish Movie Tour in the area.
Rory O’Shea: Inside I’m Dancing
When the kinetic Rory moves into his room in the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled, his effect on the home is immediate. Most telling is his friendship with Michael, a young man with cerebral palsy and nearly unintelligible speech. Somehow, Rory understands Michael, and encourages him to experience life outside the confines of home.
5 Minutes of Heaven
The story of former UVF member Alistair Little. Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen’s brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two.
When Peter Plunkett’s Irish castle turned hotel is about to be re-possesed, he decides to spice up the attraction a bit for the ‘Yanks’ by having his staff pretend to haunt the castle. Dromore Castle, County Limerick, stood in for Castle Plunkett in the film.
An Everlasting Piece
Colm is a Catholic and George is a poetry-loving Protestant. In Belfast in the 1980s, they could have been enemies…
Breakfast on Pluto
In the 1970s, a young trans woman, Patrick “Kitten” Braden, comes of age by leaving her Irish town for London, in part to look for her mother and in part because her gender identity is beyond the town’s understanding.
A New York playwright is summoned to Ireland to bury his father (his “Da”). Filmed in Dalkey and Bray county Dublin.
Fifty Dead Men Walking
Based on Martin McGartland’s shocking real life story.
A chronicle of Terri Hooley’s life, a record-store owner instrumental in developing Belfast’s punk-rock scene.
In the Name of the Father
A man’s coerced confession to an IRA bombing he did not commit results in the imprisonment of his father as well. An English lawyer fights to free them.
Neil Jordan’s historical biopic of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, the man who led a guerrilla war against the UK, helped negotiate the creation of the Irish Free State, and led the National Army during the Irish Civil War. Try to ignore the absolutely horrendous accent of Julia Roberts.
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown
Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, learns to paint and write with his only controllable limb – his left foot.
An Irish fisherman discovers a woman in his fishing net whom his precocious daughter believes to be a selkie. Filmed in the gorgeous area of County Cork, Bere Island, Dursey Island and Puleen were some of the locations.
A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.
A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.
Some Mother’s Son
Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison, in which IRA prisoner Bobby Sands. This was filmed in Skerries, Fingal and around County Dublin.
A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.
Young Danny Flynn is released from prison after 14 years after “taking the rap” for the IRA and tries to rebuild his life in his old Belfast neighborhood.
When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.
“Bull” McCabe’s family has farmed a field for generations, sacrificing endlessly for the sake of the land. The ambush scene was filmed at.Aasleagh Falls just north of Leenane village. The Falls are actually in Mayo, and are part of the estuary of the River Erriff, which flows past Leenane and into Killary Harbour, home of Ireland’s only Fjord, where much of the film was made
An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is partnered with an up-tight F.B.I. agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. This was filmed dominantly in Lettermore, Galway. Filming took place over a six-week period in Connemara, Leitir Móir, Leitir Mealláin (Lettermullen), An Spidéal, and Bearna with some scenes for filming in Wicklow and Dublin.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces. Filmed mainly in West Cork around the town of Brandon.
The Crying Game
A British soldier is kidnapped by IRA terrorists. He befriends one of his captors, who is drawn into the soldier’s world.
Marcy is an assistant to Senator John McGlory, who is having problems with a re-election campaign. Desperate for Irish votes. The Matchmaker was filmed in: Inishmore, Aran Islands,County Galway. Roundstone, County Galway.
The Secret of Roan Inish
10-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Donegal, Ireland. The Secret of Roan Inish was filmed on the rugged coastline of Donegal, near Portnoo and Rossbeg, in northwestern Ireland.
A Belfast housewife takes up the peace cause which causes her family trouble with IRA sympathizers.
An Irish journalist writes a series of stories about drug dealers.
The third installment of Irish author Roddy Doyle’s ‘Barrytown Trilogy’, following ‘The Commitments’ and ‘The Snapper’.
Set in Ireland, Sharon Curley is a 20 year old living with her parents and many brothers and sisters.
MOVIES & TV FILMED IN IRELAND BUT NOT necessarily IRISH
Most tourist who flocked to Scotland after seeing Braveheart were unaware that the majority of the battle scenese were filmed in Ireland. All scenes depicting London were shot at Bective Abbey, County Meath. The Battle of Stirling Bridge was filmed on the Curragh Plains, County Kildare and the scenes set in York were actually filmed at Trim Castle, County Meath.
Saving Private Ryan
The famous opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, which is set on D-Day on Omaha beach, were actually filmed in County Wexford. Filming lasted for two months and took place on Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand. The Irish Defense Forces supplied 2,500 men to act as extras.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In a dramatic scene Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore are battling with evil. The Cliff scenes are filmed at the Cliffs of Moher and when we see the two of them poised on a rock that is Lemon Rock in County Kerry.
The Princess Bride
This 1987 fairy tale tells the story of heroes whose goal is to rescue a beautiful princess, Buttercup. They are followed by a masked man in black across the sea and up the Cliffs of Insanity which are really the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
The Italian Job
In this 1969 classic, starring Michael Caine, all of the jail scenes were actually filmed in Kilmainham Jail, in Dublin.
The legendary tale of King Arthur and round table was mostly filmed in Ireland. Britain’s beautiful old buildings and structures were in fact mostly filmed in Ardmore Studios, County Wicklow. What might have seemed to be Hadrian’s Wall was in fact Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare and the Luggala and Powerscourt Estates in County Wicklow were also used.
A 1975 Stanley Kubrick classic tells the story of an Irish rogue who goes off and joins the British Army. The Germany Military encampment scenes were filmed at Cahir Castle, County Tipperary, and the British Redcoat scenes were filmed in Kells, County Meath.
The Jonathan Rhys Meyers, TV series, The Tudors was shot in Ireland.Locations they’ve used include Ardmore Studios and Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow and Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Jail and the People’s Gardens in Dublin.
Game of Thrones
An entire industry has been built in Northern Ireland around the Game of Thrones saga. From Castle Ward in Co. Down to the Caves of Cunshendall and the Harbour at Ballintoy.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
From Skelling Michael in Co. Kerry to Malin Head and the Inishowen Peninsula in the far north of Donegal Star Wars has made an impact on the West coast of Ireland.
In Ireland’s Ancient East, the beautiful Co Wicklow settings of Luggala and the Poulaphouca Reservoir have featured in Irish-Canadian historical drama Vikings.
Read more of these gorgeous Irish locations here
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