What is the best St. Patrick’s Day movie?

Key Takeaways:

  • Irish cinema offers a diverse range of genres from comedies to dramas, horror, musicals, and sci-fi.
  • Recent acclaimed Irish films include award-winners like The Banshees of Inisherin, Belfast, and Wolfwalkers.
  • Classic crowd-pleasers such as Once, The Guard, Sing Street, and Brooklyn are must-watches.
  • Many Irish films explore the country’s rich history, folklore, and cultural identity.
  • Iconic Irish directors and actors like John Carney, Kenneth Branagh, and Brendan Gleeson have crafted celebrated works.

On St. Patrick’s Day, after enjoying all the fun festivities and traditional Irish meals, why not cozy up and watch a great Irish movie? With Ireland’s impressive cinematic tradition, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the perfect flick to cap off your celebrations.

Recent Award-Winning Irish Films

Let’s start with some of the latest and greatest Irish films that have been racking up major awards and critical acclaim.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

This darkly comedic drama scored a whopping 8 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two longtime pals whose friendship takes an unexpected turn on a remote Irish island. The stellar performances and sharp writing made it one of last year’s must-see films.

Belfast (2021)

BELFAST - Official Trailer - Only In Theaters November 12

Writer-director Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical tale set in 1960s Northern Ireland during the Protestant-Catholic conflicts earned him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The black-and-white film provides a poignant look at tumultuous times through the eyes of a young boy and his working-class family.

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Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)

WILD MOUNTAIN THYME I Official Trailer I Bleecker Street

Based on an acclaimed play, this romantic drama stars Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt as lifelong neighbors in rural Ireland. As their aging parents’ long-standing land feud rages on, the pair contemplate their own feelings and futures. With its lush Irish setting, it’s the perfect scenic escape.

Wolfwalkers (2020)

Wolfwalkers — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

From the renowned animation studio Cartoon Saloon, this breathtaking fantasy adventure delves into Irish folklore. When a young hunter arrives in Ireland to wipe out the last wolf pack, his rebellious daughter befriends a native girl who may be linked to the mysterious “wolfwalkers.”

Classic Crowd-Pleasing Irish Movies

If you’re looking for guaranteed crowd-pleasers, you can’t go wrong with these beloved Irish film favorites from recent decades.

Once (2007)

Once (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

This unassuming yet utterly charming musical romance made stars out of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the real-life musicians playing struggling artists who connect through their collaboration. With its naturalistic performances and sublime original songs, it won the hearts of audiences worldwide.

The Guard (2011)

The Guard | Official Trailer HD (2011)

For a wildly entertaining buddy cop comedy, look no further than this cult hit starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. When an FBI agent gets caught up in a murder case in Ireland, he’s forced to team with an eccentric policeman – cue the hilarious culture clash and shenanigans.

Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street Official Trailer #1 (2016) - Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy Movie HD

From Once director John Carney comes this infectiously joyful 1980s-set gem about working-class kids in Dublin who start a rock band in pursuit of girls, dreams, and escape. With a stellar soundtrack and killer cast of young talent, it’s an absolute delight from start to finish.

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Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson Movie HD

In this deeply moving drama, a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan in an Oscar-nominated role) emigrates to 1950s Brooklyn, finding work and new possibilities – as well as an unexpected love. But her loyalties become torn when she returns home for a family crisis.

Exploring Ireland’s History and Folklore

Many great Irish films provide a window into the nation’s complex history, cultural identity, and rich mythology. Here are some standouts on that front:

Black ’47 (2018)

Black 47 - Official Trailer I HD I IFC Films

For an intense, unflinching look at the hardships of the Great Irish Famine, this gritty revenge thriller set in 1847 pulls no punches. Following a hardened ranger seeking justice, it has been described as an Irish Western of sorts.

The Secret of Kells (2009)

The Secret of Kells (2009) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

This dazzling, award-winning animated film from Cartoon Saloon immerses viewers in Celtic folklore and artwork. A young boy from the Abbey of Kells must venture into a magical forest inhabited by wolf-people and fae folk to help complete a legendary religious tome.

Other notable films exploring Irish heritage include Philomena, Calvary, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley, examining everything from institutional injustices to the 1920s Irish revolutionary period.

Notable Irish Directors and Actors

Of course, a big reason for Ireland’s cinematic excellence lies in the incredible talents working both behind and in front of the camera. Here are a few major forces in Irish film:

John Carney

Best known for Once and Sing Street, writer-director Carney has a gift for infusing warmth, humor and glorious music into tales of struggling artists and dreamers.

Kenneth Branagh

The acclaimed actor/filmmaker drew from his own Belfast childhood for his Oscar-winning semi-autobiographical 2021 drama. His diverse filmography also includes literary adaptations, superhero epics, and Shakespeare.

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Brendan Gleeson

A true acting titan, Gleeson shines in dramas (The Guard, Calvary, The Banshees of Inisherin), comedies, and even the Harry Potter franchise. His intense presence and gallows humor make him utterly riveting.

Variety of Genres

Whatever mood you’re in on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find an Irish film to match thanks to the sheer variety of genres on display:

Comedies: In addition to hilarious crowd-pleasers like The Guard, other recent Irish comedy hits include Derry Girls, The Young Offenders, and Chris O’Dowd vehicles like The Parting Glass.

Dramas: From heartrending character studies like Ondine to sweeping historical epics like Michael Collins, Irish cinema excels at dramas both intimate and grand in scope.

Horror/Thrillers: For a frightening fix, check out creepy flicks like Grabbers, The Hole in the Ground, and Nocebo mixing supernatural terrors with psychological unease.

Musicals: Along with Once and Sing Street, other recent musicals like Sunshine on Leith celebrated Ireland’s rich musical traditions.

Sci-Fi: You may be surprised to learn quirky sci-fi flicks like Last Passenger and Sea Fever sprang from the Emerald Isle!

Award Recognition

As you can see, Irish filmmakers and talent aren’t short on accolades and hardware. Along with multiple Oscar wins and nominations for Best Picture contenders like Belfast and Philomena, other major awards include:

  • Saoirse Ronan’s Oscar nod for Brooklyn
  • Wolfwalkers’ Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature
  • Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson’s dual Golden Globe acting wins for The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin) winning Best Screenplay at Cannes

With such consistently excellent films, it’s no wonder Ireland’s cinematic output draws such widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike.


What are some good family-friendly Irish movies?

Great options for all-ages viewing include the magical animated tales Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells, and Wolfwalkers from Cartoon Saloon. The musical crowdpleasers Once, Sing Street, and Heartsong are also relatively family-safe bets. And young audiences will probably get a kick out of the comedy Derry Girls about rambunctious teens.

Are there any classic older Irish films I should check out?

While this article focuses more on recent releases, cinema buffs shouldn’t miss seminal works like The Quiet Man, Ryan’s Daughter, The Commitments, In the Name of the Father, and The Crying Game representing earlier eras of Irish filmmaking excellence.

Where can I stream all these great Irish movies?

Most of the major recent and classic Irish films highlighted here are available to stream on popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. Some may also be available for rental or purchase through video-on-demand services.


As you can see, Ireland has contributed a stunning array of cinematic gems to the world over the decades – hilarious comedies, sweeping dramas, spine-tinglers, musicals, and mind-benders. On St. Patrick’s Day, any of these flicks representing the breadth of Irish talent

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