Sitting down for a family movie night is always fun, and this pick of the best Irish movies would make great viewing! With lots of exciting folklore, humour and imagination, there’s plenty to choose from for all ages.
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From clever classics to Oscar-nominated animations, this line up of the best Irish movies is definitely one to work your way through. Plus, you can enjoy Hollywood stars at their finest, as the wealth of acting talent here includes John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Sean Connery, Gabriel Byrne, Gillian Anderson, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Adams and so many more!
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Best Irish Movies for Families
The Quiet Man
After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) leaves America and returns to his native Ireland, hoping buy his family’s homestead and live in peace.
In doing so, he runs afoul of Will Danaher, who long coveted the property. Spitefully, Will objects when his fiery sister, Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara), begins a romance with Sean, and refuses to hand over her dowry. Mary Kate refuses to consummate the marriage until Sean retrieves the money.
The Secret of Kells
In the remote Irish woods, Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) prepares a fortress for an impending attack by a Viking war party. Unbeknown to Cellach, his young nephew Brendan (Evan McGuire) — who has no taste for battle — works secretly as an apprentice in the scriptorium of the local monastery, learning the ancient art of calligraphy. As the Vikings approach, revered illuminator Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives at the monastery and recruits Brendan to complete a series of dangerous, magical tasks.
A bewitching animated fairytale is one of the best recent Irish movies for children and adults alike. This vibrant animation is a spirited retelling of the provenance of Ireland’s most cherished artefact, the Book of Kells.
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Song of the Sea
Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land.
Features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny.
In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack.
While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumoured to have the ability to transform into wolves by night.
As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the WolfWalkers and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
The Luck of the Irish
When Kyle loses his golden pot-of-gold charm, he discovers that he is actually part Leprechaun. He must find the thief who took the charm before he takes control of all the leprechauns. Along the way, Kyle discovers that he is capable of making his own luck.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
Just-fired Darby O’Gill does not want to tell his daughter Katie that his position has been taken by a dashing younger man (Sean Connery).
On his way home, Darby slips through a portal to the land of the little people. There he meets the leprechaun king Brian and winds up accidentally bringing the little monarch home with him. Darby then demands Brian grant him three wishes, but the request brings Darby bittersweet, and unexpected, results.
The Secret of Roan Inish
Fiona is a young Irish girl with an unusual family history, including a long-missing baby brother. When she goes to live with her grandparents on the west coast of Ireland, Fiona hears stories about her ancestors, tales that involve mythical creatures called selkies who can shift from seal to human form.
After Fiona ends up on the small island of Roan Inish, her family’s ancestral home, she believes she may have found her little brother living by the sea.
A Shine of Rainbows
A lonely orphan’s life is transformed by an extraordinary woman who teaches him to conquer grief and discover the magic in nature and himself.
Maire O’Donnell has a smile that can light up the darkest room. Joyful, warm and caring, she adopts a young orphan named Tomas and whisks him off to a new home on remote Corrie Island, off the coast of Ireland. Maire shares with Tomas the joys of her island home and introduces him to the whimsical local folklore, including the secret of the seals, and teaches him that everything you need is inside of you, if you really look.
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Best Irish Movies for Tweens and Teens
Into the West
Youngsters Ossie and Tito live with their widowed father (Gabriel Byrne), who drowns his grief in drink. Their grim existence is uplifted by the arrival of their itinerant grandfather (David Kelly), who has brought with him a magical horse from legend – Tir na nOg.
But when crooked cops discover the prized animal, they commandeer it, intending to sell it as a racing horse. Furious, the boys resolve to rescue the mythical creature.
The Mighty Celt
Donal is a 14-year-old boy who develops a passion for greyhound racing. He works in a kennel, which is owned by Good Joe. Good Joe promises Donal ownership of Donal’s favourite greyhound, The Mighty Celt, if the animal wins three races in a row.
Meanwhile, Donal’s mother Kate, must adjust her life when a man from her past returns. The political climate of Ireland serves as the backdrop of this story.
When yet another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Anna (Amy Adams) decides to take action. Aware of a Celtic tradition that allows women to pop the question on Feb. 29, she plans to follow her partner to Dublin and ask him to marry her.
Fate has other plans, however, and Anna winds up on the other side of the Emerald Isle with handsome, but surly, Declan – an Irishman who may just lead Anna down the road to true love.
Young Irish immigrant Eilis Lace (Saoirse Ronan) navigates her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City.
The initial homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her past disrupts her new vivacity, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
With the recession hitting people hard in Dublin during the 80s, Conor is moved from his private school to a tough inner-city alternative. As he tries to adjust to a new way of life, he decides to start his own band.
A vacuum repairman (Glen Hansard) moonlights as a street musician and hopes for his big break. One day a Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova), who earns a living selling flowers, approaches him with the news that she is also an aspiring singer-songwriter. The pair decide to collaborate, and the songs that they compose reflect the story of their blossoming love.
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Have your say! What do you think the best Irish movies are to watch as a family? What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!