Movies that make Irish eyes smile

By Kate MacDonald

MCT

Almost every year, St. Patrick’s Day falls during the week of Spring Break. While some Irish-Americans are watching out for leprechauns and eating corned beef and cabbage, many college kids are stumbling around on beautiful foreign beaches.

If you’re among the fortunate ones that spent their St. Patty’s Day in a tropical paradise, you probably missed out on some classic Irish flicks. Fret not, there’s still a way to indulge in Irish heritage during the month of March. Just check out these timeless movies having to do with Ireland.

“The Commitments”- While many Irish films are full of setbacks and tragedies, “The Commitments” is about the formation of Jimmy Rabitte’s great band and bringing soul music to Ireland. A funny movie with a great soundtrack, “The Commitments” is a must-see.

“The Devil’s Own”- In one of his earlier films, Brad Pitt stars as Frankie McGuire, an IRA who adopts a false identity to go to America to buy missiles for a terrorist attack. He ends up rooming with a cop (Harrison Ford) and his family. As Frankie’s story starts to unravel, the cop must protect thousands of innocent people from Frankie’s potential attack. Though it takes place in the U.S., the story begins on the Emerald Isle and chronicles the IRA struggle in Northern Ireland.

“Far and Away”- Starring then-married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, the young Irish couple aspires to come to America to become wealthy landowners. As is the classic Irish way, they face hardships in the Irish city of Boston (her family, his temporary career) but try to persevere and keep the dream alive. It’s a good portrayal of the Irish struggle in America.

“The Snapper”- “The Snapper” is truly a good example of actual Irish life. Not preoccupied with telling a historical tale, the very funny film is about an Irish Catholic girl who finds herself pregnant (she then refers to the fetus as “the snapper”). Not the best situation for a girl from a large Catholic family living in a Catholic town. A good representation of Irish society, “The Snapper” is entertaining and witty.

“In the Name of the Father”- Ireland is infamous for its troubles in the North and this film brings it to light. Based on a true story, after a 1974 pub bombing, four men were coerced into falsely confessing. They find an unlikely ally in a British lawyer who must, against many obstacles, fight for their freedom. Emma Thompson and Daniel Day-Lewis give award worthy performances.

“Michael Collins”- Michael Collins is a legendary Irish war hero who fought and died in the Irish Revolution. His fiancée (played by Julia Roberts) wants to hear stories of the patriot (Liam Neeson) after his death. The film is necessary for those who want to learn about the most pertinent aspects of the successful Irish Revolution against the British, still a huge aspect of Irish culture.

“Waking Ned Devine”- Reminiscent of “Weekend at Bernie’s,” a small Irish village must band together to pretend its oldest resident is still alive. Ned died of shock after winning the lottery, and the townsfolk must put aside their own family troubles to fool government inspectors so they can all share the millions. Hilarity ensues.

“Angela’s Ashes”- Based on Frank McCourt’s book, the movie is about the immigration of the McCourt family back to Limerick. It’s a deep and tragic film chronicling the troubles of many Irish families.

“The Luck of the Irish”- This classic Disney made-for-TV movie resounds in the memories of teens and twenty-somethings all over the nation. Kyle Johnson (Ryan Merriman), a high schooler who doesn’t care about his ethnicity, discovers that he descends from a long line of leprechauns when the evil Seamus McTiernan steals his family’s luck.

“The Quiet Man”- “The Quiet Man” is a must-have on any list of great Irish movies. A 1952 classic starring huge celebrities John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, the film is about an Irish-American boxer who returns to Ireland and falls for his enemy’s sister. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including “Best Picture,” the film took home two.

Honorable mentions include “The Crying Game,” “In America,” “Dancing at Lughnasa” and “Gangs of New York.”

While most great Irish movies feature thick brogues and actors that are fairly unknown in the United States, the movies on this list are certainly nothing to scoff at. And while there’s an extremely large Irish-American contingent in the U.S., these films, thanks to intense action scenes, romance, comedy and sweeping vista shots of the gorgeous Irish countryside, would most certainly appeal to just about everyone.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]