14 Irish Movies That Will Put You in the St. Patrick's Day Spirit Year-Round

Ireland's contributions to the entertainment world go beyond top tier acting talent like Saoirse Ronan and Liam Neeson. Here are some of the best Irish movies of all time.

Green, Face, Tree, Eye, Animated cartoon, Grass, Photography, Illustration, Plant, Smile,
(Image credit: StudioCanal / Fox Searchlight)

Ireland exports more than just redheads and amazing accents. In addition to gifting the entertainment world with verifiable treasures like Saoirse Ronan and Liam Neeson, the Emerald Isle is also behind some of the greatest foreign films of the last 30+ years—including a few you might not have even realized were Irish productions at all.

Here, for your binging pleasure, are some of the best Irish movies of all time.

'The Quiet Man'

Release date: August 21, 1952

Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, and Victor McLaglen.

The Duke stars as an Irish-born American boxer who returns home and falls for a fiery local girl, played by Maureen O'Hara.

'Darby O'Gill and the Little People'

Release date: June 26, 1959

Starring: Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery, and Jimmy O'Dea.

It's a live-action Disney movie about an Irishman forced to battle wits with leprechauns.

'My Left Foot'

Release date: February 24, 1989

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ray McAnally, Brenda Fricker, Cyril Cusack, Fiona Shaw, Hugh O'Conor, Adrian Dunbar, Ruth McCabe, and Alison Whelan.

Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for his performance as Christy Brown an Irishman with cerebral palsy who could control only his left foot, but overcame his limitations to become a writer and artist. 

'The Commitments'

Release date: August 14, 1991

Starring: Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, and Dave Finnegan.

Based on the Roddy Doyle novel of the same name, The Commitments follows a a self-proclaimed promoter who decides to put together an R&B group to bring R&B to his hometown, Dublin. Sadly, his options are limited and the band he puts together is full of musicians with zero R&B experience. 

'The Crying Game'

Release date: October 30, 1992.

Starring: Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson, and Forest Whitaker.

The Crying Game follows an Irish Republican Army member who bonds with the kidnapped British soldier he's charged with watching and ends up promising to protect said Brit's girlfriend. Action and intrigue follow. 

'In the Name of the Father'

Release date: December 29, 1993

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, and Emma Thompson.

Day-Lewis snagged one of his many Oscars for this one, in which he plays an Irish man who was falsely convicted of playing a role in a 1974 IRA bombing in Guildford, England.

'Circle of Friends'

Release date: March 17, 1995

Starring: Chris O'Donnell, Colin Firth, Minnie Driver, Geraldine O'Rawe, and Saffron Burrows.

Chris O'Donnell, Colin Firth, and Minnie Driver playing college kids getting into romantic entanglements in post-WWII Dublin—how could it not be amazing?

'The Boxer'

Release date: December 31, 1997

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Watson, Brian Cox, Ken Stott, Gerard McSorley, and Kenneth Cranham.

Another amazing Daniel Day-Lewis entry into Irish cinema history. In this one, he plays a former IRA activist who has to adjust to life in his hometown after serving a 14-year prison sentence.

Angela's Ashes

Release date: December 25, 1999

Starring: Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle.

Based on Frank McCourt's memoir of the same name, Angela's Ashes tells the story of an Irish family in Brooklyn who are forced to move back home due to struggles with money and his father's alcoholism. 


Release date: March 23, 2007

Starring: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

This romantic musical stars Glen Hansard of The Frames and Markéta Irglová as struggling street musicians in Dublin who use music to find love. 


Release date: May 15, 2008

Starring: Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham.

This historical drama tells the gripping story of the 1981 Irish hunger strike, the culminating event in the five-year-long protest efforts of Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The real-life strike ended in the deaths (by starvation) of 10 prisoners.

'The Secret of Kells'

Release date: March 3, 2009

Starring:Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson, Christen Mooney, Mick Lally, Michael McGrath, Liam Hourican, Paul Tylak, and Paul Young.

Vikings, fairies, magic books—this animated film is a delight (and might have won an Academy Award if it hadn't come out the same year as Up)

'The Guard'

Release date: July 7, 2011

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, and Fionnula Flanagan.

An Irish cop and an American FBI agent have to team up to expose corruption in the Irish police department. Oh, and add a little Odd Couple vibes to the mix, because the Irish cop (played by Brendan Gleeson) is the Oscar and the FBI agent (played by the always-amazing Don Cheadle) is the Felix. 


Release date: January 26, 2015

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters.

Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film, as an Irish immigrant who moves to (you guessed it) Brooklyn in the 1950s who falls in love with an American and then has to choose between her two countries.

Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.