The 25 Best Movies About Ireland That You Need to Watch

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Movies About Ireland

There are so many movies about Ireland because it’s such a fascinating place in the world. When writers and directors feature Ireland in movies, you know that there’s going to be a captivating story behind it all. I traveled to Ireland for three weeks, and I feel like I’ve just scraped the surface of this beautiful country. I can’t wait to return to Ireland in the future. For now, I’m watching some of the best Irish movies to tide me over until my eventual return.

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Movies About Ireland: The Top 25

While there are so many more movies about Ireland than just 25, I thought that I’d give you a list of the best Irish movies to start. At the bottom of this blog post, I’ll make some more recommendations for additional movies that take place in Ireland. And if you have even more recommendations for me? Please share your favorite movies filmed in Ireland in the comments section. Without further ado, here are the top movies set in Ireland and the most famous Irish movies that you need to see.

Angela’s Ashes (1999)

Movies About Ireland - Angela's Ashes
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Angela’s Ashes is based on an autobiography by Irish-American author, Frank McCourt. It focuses mostly on his childhood experiences and his family life in Limerick. His family is impoverished and his father battles both unemployment and alcoholism. Frankie’s mother, Angela, becomes stricken with loss and depression as The Great Depression hits Ireland hard.

This is one of the best movies about Ireland that interweaves personal history with a collective one, and demonstrates the hardships that most people of Ireland faced at the time. You can stream Angela’s Ashes on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Set in Limerick, partially filmed in Cork

Bloody Sunday (2002)

Bloody Sunday (2002) - Best Irish movies

Bloody Sunday is a historic drama based on the events of the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” shootings in Derry, Northern Ireland. We witness the day as seen through the eyes of Ivan Cooper, civil rights activist and central organizer of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association demonstration march. The march ends in tragedy when British troops open fire on the protesters, killing 13 demonstrators and 14 bystanders in the crowd.

You can find the full length film of Bloody Sunday to watch on YouTube. This is one of the best Irish movies based on recent historical events that helps you to understand Ireland and Northern Ireland’s violent past.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The film is set in Derry, Northern Ireland. However, most of the film was shot in Ballymun, North Dublin.

Brooklyn (2015)

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Another one of the best Ireland movies is Brooklyn, a romantic historical drama set in the 1950s. A young woman from a small town in southeast Ireland decides to move to Brooklyn in search of bigger and better opportunities. Despite the fact that she’s homesick, she eventually meets her love interest in the film in Brooklyn. After learning about her sister’s untimely death, she returns to Ireland and falls back into the makings of a regular life there. The protagonist must choose between her life in Ireland and her life in the United States.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Enniscorthy, County Wexford. The Irish portions of the film were shot in Enniscorthy, Wexford, and Dublin.

The Butcher Boy (1997)

The Butcher Boy

The Butcher Boy is one of the top movies that takes place in Ireland and that’s also filmed in the town where it takes place. Set in the early 60s, The Butcher Boy tells the story of a 12 year old boy and his place within his dysfunctional family. As the conflicts and tragedies escalate in the boy’s life, he begins to spiral out of control. You can rent this movie on YouTube or Google Play for a small fee.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The Butcher Boy is set in the small town of Clones. It was also filmed in Clones, as well as Dublin, Monaghan, and Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland.

Calvary (2014)

Calvary (2014) - Movies set in Ireland

Calvary tells the story of Father James, a priest in a small Irish town. During a Sunday Catholic confessional, an anonymous man threatens to kill him the following Sunday. As Father James only has a week to sort his affairs and decide what to do, he’s faced with a series of challenges that face everyone he knows and loves. This is one of the movies filmed in Ireland that shows the beautiful landscapes of the country as a backdrop to a thrilling story.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Calvary was filmed in stunning Sligo, including Streedagh Beach, Lissadell, Benbulben Mountain, Strandhill, and more.

Circle of Friends (1995)

Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends is one of the great movies about Ireland based on a group of friends in the 1950s. It’s a coming of age story about three girls who come from a small Irish town. The film focuses on their lives as they become university students in Dublin, as well as their romances. Circle of Friends stars Minnie Driver in one of her first feature films, as well as Chris O’Donnell.

Places That Inspired the Movie: While the film is set in the fictitious Irish town of Knockglen, it was set in the small town of Inistioge in County Kilkenny. Circle of Friends also takes place in Dublin.

The Commitments (1991)

The Commitments (1991)

The Commitments is a musical comedy that’s one of the best movies set in Dublin. It follows the turbulent story of a band called The Commitments, which starts when the main character holds band auditions at his parents’ house. He winds up bringing together friends and acquaintances to form the band. This is one of the top movies about Ireland that follows interpersonal relationships between the characters as they’re united by music and torn apart.

Places That Inspired the MovieDublin

The Field (1990)

The Field (1990)
Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

An Irish farmer, “Bull” McCabe, is deeply attached to a rented field that his family has farmed for generations. The widow who owns the field decides to sell it at a public auction, and McCabe wants to purchase the land. While no one in town dares to bid against him, a wealthy American (with ancestors in the region) swoops in to purchase the land in order to build a highway. It’s one of the most riveting movies that take place in Ireland.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The Connemara village of Leenane, including the pub “Gaynors“, one of three pubs in town (now referred to as “The Field Bar”).

Grabbers (2012)

Grabbers is a monster film that takes place on a small island off the west coast of Ireland. Out of all the movies set in Ireland, this one has an offbeat concept. There’s an invasion of sea-dwelling aliens to the island, and there’s only one thing that can save the residents…having a high blood alcohol level.

The monsters can’t stomach alcohol, so the Irish people living on the island must keep drinking to survive! You can currently watch Grabbers streaming on Hulu, and also with a subscription to IFC Unlimited on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: While the movie was set on the fictitious Erin Island, scenes were shot in Rathlin and Donegal.

The Guard (2011)

The Guard (2011) - Best Irish movies

The Guard is one of the best Irish films in the genres of comedy and buddy cop flicks. It’s written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, who also wrote and directed the film, Calvary. The movie stars Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

A confrontational Irish cop who plays by his own rules is paired with an uptight FBI agent. The two must work together to uncover an international drug smuggling ring. In some countries, The Guard is available to stream on Netflix.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Scenes from The Guard feature places in County Galway like Lettermore, Connemara, and Lettermullen.

Hunger (2008)

Hunger (2008)

Hunger is director Steve McQueen’s first feature film, and it stars Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham. It’s a historical drama about the Irish hunger strike in 1981. It’s a compelling and detailed look at prison life during the hunger strike, led by Bobby Sands.

Hunger is one of the best movies about Ireland as it portrays this important part of recent Irish history. One of the most memorable parts of the film is the unbroken 17-minute shot when a priest tries to talk Bobby Sands out of participating in the protest.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The movie takes place in the H-block of Belfast’s Maze Prison.

In the Name of the Father (1993)

In the Name of the Father (1993)

In the Name of the Father is a biographical court room drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson. It’s one of the best Irish movies because it’s based on a powerful true story. The Guildford Four are the four people falsely convicted of the 1974 Guildford Pub bombings. Four off-duty British soldiers and a fifth person died in the blast.

Places That Inspired the MovieBelfast, though much of the film was shot in Dublin.

Into the West (1992)

Into the West (1992) - Best Irish films

Into the Wild is one of the top movies set in Ireland. It takes place in the 1990s, and the characters are Irish Travellers. The film tells a story about two boys whose father is “King of Irish Travellers”. The boys and their father made a permanent home in Ballymun in Dublin. The boys’ grandfather gifts them a horse that he found, and they keep it in their apartment. They dream of someday becoming cowboys.

The horse is taken away from the boys by the police, and the horse winds up in the hands of a dubious horse breeder. The boys set out to retrieve the horse and escape on his back.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Into the West features several locations in Ireland: Portarlington, Connemara, County Mayo, Ballymun, and the Wicklow Mountains.

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

The Magdalene Sisters is one of the top movies about Ireland that’s based on a true story. It follows the story of three girls who are “fallen” and sent to the Magdalene Asylums, maintained by the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland. The women are imprisoned there and forced into hard labor, harsh punishments, and both physical and psychological abuse. The girls form a bond and attempt to find ways to escape.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Although set in Ireland, the film was mostly shot in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

Michael Collins (1996)

Michael Collins - Best movies about Ireland

Michael Collins is one of the most famous Irish movies about the notorious Irish patriot who died in the Irish Civil War. Liam Neeson plays the starring role of Michael Collins, the “Lion of Ireland”. This biographical drama portrays how the controversial Michael Collins led a war against the British and helped to found the Irish Free State in 1922.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains

My Left Foot (1989)

My Left Foot (1989)
Photo Credit: Miramax Films

My Left Foot is a biographical comedy/drama starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown, an Irish man born with cerebral palsy. His only controllable limb is his left foot, so he learns to write and paint with it. Though he is unable to talk or walk, he becomes famous for his art and eventually writes his own autobiography. It’s a wonderful portray of Ireland in movies through a remarkable personal story.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Dublin

Once (2007)

Once is one of the best musical movies filmed in Ireland. It tells the love story between an immigrant and a busker who are united through their love of music. They rehearse and record songs together as they discover their love for one another, but will they end up together in the end?

Places That Inspired the Movie: Dublin

Ondine (2009)

Ondine - Movies about Ireland

Ondine is a romantic Irish drama and one of the best Irish movies, starring Colin Farrell. He plays the role of Syracuse, a divorced fisherman who finds a young woman in his fishing net. Syracuse resuscitates the woman who calls herself Ondine. Syracuse’s daughter, Annie, believes that Ondine is a mythological selkie, a seal that turns into a human on land.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Castletownbere, County Cork

P.S. I Love You (2007)

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You stars Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler as Holly and Gerry, a married couple living in Manhattan. When Gerry dies suddenly of a brain tumor, Holly realizes how insignificant those arguments were and how much Gerry means to her.

Before he died, Gerry wrote a series of 10 letters to Holly that all end with the phrase, “P.S. I Love You.” She receives the letters in surprising ways. These letters help Holly on a personal journey of rediscovery, and one that takes her to his homeland of Ireland. You can stream P.S. I Love You on Netflix.

Places That Inspired the Movie: County Wicklow: Blessington Lakes, Lacken, Wicklow Mountains and The Sally Gap. Also, Whelan’s Pub in Dublin.

The Quiet Man (1952)

The Quiet Man - Movies about Ireland

The Quiet Man is one of the most acclaimed movies about Ireland. Sean Thornton, played by John Wayne, is an Irish-American boxer from Pittsburgh who returns to the village where he was born in Ireland. He falls for a beautiful red-haired woman whose brother vows to keep them apart.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Cong, a village on the border of County Mayo and County Galway.

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

In the film, The Secret of Roan Inish, a young girl goes to live with her grandparents in a small Irish village. She learns that a distant ancestor of hers married a selkie, a seal that turns into a human when it ventures onto the land. She also discovers that her brother drifted out to sea and might be still alive out there, raised by selkies. The young girl seeks to uncover the mysteries of Roan Inish (“seal island”).

Places That Inspired the Movie: County Donegal

Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street (2016)

Set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street is a coming of age musical about a teenager who transfers to a tough public school. He starts a rock band to win over the affections of a girl he likes. In doing so, he escapes his tumultuous family life and attempts to gain her affections.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Dublin

The Snapper (1993)

The Snapper (1993)

If you’re looking for more movies set in Ireland, here’s one based in Dublin. A 20 year old girl named Sharon lives at home with her parents and many siblings. After a wild night at the pub, she becomes pregnant but refuses to reveal the identity of the father.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Dublin

Waking Ned Divine (1998)

Waking Ned Divine - Best Irish Movies

Ned Divine is one of the best Irish movies and you’ll surely adore this comedic film. When the reclusive Ned Divine wins the national lottery, he dies from the shock of it all. While he has no family to claim the ticket, his friends and the local townsfolk conspire to keep the prize winnings.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The fictitious Irish village of Tullymore (actually shot on the Isle of Man)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a war drama set in rural Ireland during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923). It tells a fictitious story of two brothers from County Cork who join the IRA to fight against the United Kingdom for Irish independence. You can stream The Wind That Shakes the Barley with a subscription to IFC Unlimited through Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: County Cork, including Bandon, Ballyvourney and Timoleague

Ireland in Movies: Honorable Mentions

There’s only room for 25 movies on this list, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t anymore famous Irish movies. If you’ve seen the ones above and you’re looking for more, here are even more movies about Ireland you’ll surely love.

  • Song for a Raggy Boy
  • The Siege of Jadotville
  • War of the Buttons
  • Leap Year
  • Intermission
  • Nothing Personal
  • The Young Offenders
  • Flight of the Doves
  • Dancing at Lughnasa
  • The Van
  • The Boxer
  • Ryan’s Daughter
  • Black 47
  • ’71

More Movies From Around the World

Interested to view more movies featuring countries and cultures from around the world? Please take a look at the following movie guides:

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What do you think are the best Irish movies?

5 Responses

  1. Sydney
    | Reply

    I will start watching your list of 25… not sure how they beat out Leap Year. Hope not to be disappointed!

  2. Marisa Morgan
    | Reply

    How can you have this list without The Matchmaker???

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      I’ll have to check it out, thanks!

  3. Alina Jack
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing the movies. I didn’t watch any of them but i will see it soon.

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks, Alina! Happy movie watching!

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