For years film-makers and directors have flocked to Ireland to use its beautiful scenery as a backdrop for some of its productions. All you have to do is watch the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise and you’ll catch a glimpse of the impressive Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And there has been a long tradition of the Irish in Hollywood, with talent such as Maureen O’ Hara, Liam Neeson, Saoirse Ronan and Cillian Murphy to name but a few. But Ireland has also produced some of its own cinematic gems that have influenced many to visit this fair isle and some that are just a must see.
The Secret Of Kells (2009)
I love animated film. Some lend themselves so well to the story that’s being portrayed and The Secret Of Kells is one such film. You’re transported back to the Land of Saints and Scholars to the fictional story of how the Book of Kells came to be. This film is beautifully animated and reflects an important aspect of our Irish heritage. The Book of Kells is an important manuscript containing the Four Gospels, dating back to the 9th century. It’s celebrated for its intricate artwork and is on public display at Trinity College, Dublin.
The Snapper (1993)
Based on the novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle and starring Colm Meaney, Brendan Gleeson and Tina Kellegher, The Snapper tells the story of the Curley family and their domestic adventures. Young Sharon Curley falls pregnant and she’s the talk of the town. While the town suspects her best friend’s father, Sharon goes around telling tall tales that it was a Spanish sailor who got her pregnant. This film will have you in stitches laughing at the Irish wit and humour, if you can understand the Dublin accent.
Written and directed by John Carney and starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Once tells the story of two struggling musicians to the backdrop of Dublin City. ‘Falling Slowly’ won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The film has since been adapted for stage as a musical, first opening in New York and has won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2012.
Breakfast On Pluto (2005)
Breakfast On Pluto is directed by Neil Jordan and is adapted from Patrick McCabe’s novel of the same name. It’s a dark-comedy starring Cillian Murphy as ‘Kitten’ Braden, a transgender foundling. Having been abandoned as a baby on the doorsteps of the local parochial hall, she goes in search of her long lost mother in small town Ireland and London.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Well I couldn’t leave out this classic as I work in The Quiet Man Museum and I’ve grown to love this charming film. It always tops the list of best loved Irish films. It was directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne and Maureen O’ Hara. Set in 1920s Ireland, The Quiet Man tells the tale of Sean Thornton (Wayne) who returns home to the fictional village of Inisfree to escape his past, falls in love with the feisty Mary-Kate Danaher (O’ Hara) and ends up having a fight with her brother. Filled with Irish wit and charm, Ford gives a romantic view of Ireland and portrays the beautiful scenery of Ireland as another character in the film. It’s a popular film with many Americans of Irish ancestry. It’s a testament to Ford’s vision how it remains a cult classic, with people still visiting the picturesque village of Cong and the region of Connemara to see the film locations 60+ years later. Many visitors have told me how they fell in love with Ireland thanks to The Quiet Man.
Have you seen any of these films? Are there any other Irish films you would add to the list?