Eight films that explore Irish culture and history

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, here are eight films that celebrate Irish culture and history.

My Left Foot (1989) Dir. Jim Sheridan

Often regarded as “the beginning of Modern Irish Cinema,” this film stars Oscar heavyweight Daniel Day Lewis as Christy Brown, a man with cerebral palsy who learned how to paint with his only his left foot. Brown’s mother, played by Brenda Fricker, sees the brilliance in her son that everyone else overlooks. Critics hailed the film, based on a true story, as uplifting without being too sentimental and as playing a massive role in transforming Irish Cinema.

Hunger (2008) Dir. Steve McQueen

This film chronicles the grueling Northern Irish Hunger Strike of 1981. Michael Fassbender plays Bobby Sands, a member of the Irish Republican Army who leads the strike in Maze Prison. The story shows the desperation of other members of the Irish Republican Army, turmoils in finding morality and how much people were willing to sacrifice for the protest.

Sing Street (2016) Dir. John Carney

This coming-of-age film follows a boy named Conor who starts a band to impress a girl he likes. Pretty simple right? John Carney’s twist on this cliche becomes a sympathetic tale of trial and error, paired with a toe-tapping soundtrack, dynamic characters and the underlying subplot of a boy reconnecting with his brother. Dublin’s 80’s culture is ingrained throughout the film, making this critical hit an underrated hit.

The Secret of Kells (2009) Dir. Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey

After receiving a mysterious book filled with secrets and powers, this medieval period piece follows a young boy named Brendan and his quest for peace for his war-torn village through a magical forest. Moore and Twomey’s film tells the age-old message of finding courage through darkness while running into fairies and barbarians along the way. The story is told through masterfully hand-drawn animation.

Brooklyn (2015) Dir. John Crowley

Saoirse Ronan gives a favorable performance of an Irish immigrant’s experience in America and the conflicting emotions that arrive with her. On one hand, she wants to settle down and explore the city of Brooklyn. But on the other hand, she dearly misses her hometown in Ireland, which casts a shadow on her life. Both her story and her identity take shape by the end of the film.

The Departed (2006) Dir. Martin Scorsese

This film, based on the infamous dealings of the Irish mob in South Boston, follows Leonardo DiCaprio as a cop who is tasked to find a mole in the police department. Matt Damon plays the mole, and the mob boss tasks him to throw off the police. This gripping thriller and critical hit from Goodfellas director Scorsese garnered four Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

Bloody Sunday (2002) Dir. Paul Greengrass

This film is a painfully honest portrayal of the infamous Bloody Sunday Massacre in 1972 in Derry, Ireland, from the point of view of Irish Civil Rights Activist, Ivan Cooper. Greengrass explores the controversial historic event and relays the events as they unfolded in one day.

The Irish Pub (2013) Dir. Alex Fegan

This documentary interviews Pub owners all over Ireland and explains how the institution of the pub itself is a cornerstone of Irish culture. If you’re in the mood to watch heartwarming interactions between people or are even a bit curious about the effort patrons put into Irish hospitality, then this film is for you.

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