Belfast and other must-see films celebrating Ireland


As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, pull out the garish green hats, grab an ice-cold Bailey’s or Guinness and settle in to watch these classic Irish movies. If you haven’t seen these gems yet, you need to catch up! From story to music and comedy to drama, these eight must-see Irish movies have all the bases covered for you. And since the most recent Belfast to 1993 Daniel Day Lewis featuring In the name of the Fatherthis selection features big names and lesser known films, all adorned with a beautiful Irish accent, as it should be!

8 In the Name of the Father (1993)

In the name of the Father

This moving and traumatic account of Ireland’s infamous ‘Troubles’ shows a young Daniel Day-Lewis truly pouring himself into the turbulent backdrop of his heritage. His Belfast accent is impeccable, from rhythm to enunciation. He gives a very emotionally tortured performance, but still retains that Irish charm and sense of humor. In effect, In the name of the Father is a political film and is unafraid to expose the corruptions of authority figures and shine a light on real-life injustices. Based on the life and wrongful incarceration of Gerry Conlon of ‘The Guilford Four’, this film shows those who are abused rising up and claiming their voice. However, more than anything else, this movie is about a son who wants to do right by his father and fight for what he believes is right.


7 The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

The wind that shakes the barley

by Ken Loach historical drama stars Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney like the O’Donovan brothers, caught up in the Irish War of Independence, followed by the Irish Civil War, both of which took place in the early 1900s. Similar to In the name of the Father, the central family bond is the heart of the film, coupled with the backdrop of war and Irish politics. Both Murphy and Delaney deliver very moving and heartbreaking performances, as we are reminded of how many young men have been drawn into the weaknesses of war, throughout history. Set in the stunning landscapes of County Cork, the film’s typography really helps transport us back in time and place us right on the battlefields.

6 Belfast (2021)


This coming-of-age movie from a movie veteran Kenneth Branagh is a love letter to his childhood and upbringing. Of course, the city of Belfast can rarely be discussed without mentioning the British Army and the IRA, and, indeed, these two tribes play a major role in the film. However, Belfast offers the novelty of seeing this through the eyes of a child: the struggle does not become The Troubles, but tries to have a childhood among them. Like Channel 4 Derry Girlsthe need for things like sweets, friends, music, crushes and games becomes so vital and necessary. Belfast offers a form of innocence and nostalgia in an otherwise tumultuous environment.

5 Disco Pigs (2001)

Disco Pigs

This twisted teenage love story features another great performance from Cillian Murphy. The contrast but appeal of this entry, compared to the others so far, is that it doesn’t depend on politics or history to make it an “Irish” film. Indeed, the subjects and themes of the other entries are of great importance (and certainly not lacking in Irish flair), but the charm of Disco Pigs is that it’s not a story about Ireland. It’s a fascinating and universal story that happens to be told by Irish people.

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4 Once (2007)


A lighter love story this time, Once makes you want to move and move, because his music is as powerful and infectious as his characters and his performances. Following a struggling young musical couple in Dublin, this story is not just about their love for each other, but their love of music. The original songs from the soundtrack are gorgeous, and – as opposed to just a background – are, in fact, the backbone of the film. They feed the events of the film, the emotions of the characters and the fascinating process of musical creation.

3 Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

Breakfast on Pluto

Once again, Cillian Murphy graces our screens in this wonderful adaptation of Pat McCabe’s novel of the same name. Murphy plays a transgender woman, Kitten, abandoned and estranged from her family, in search of her mother and love. A comedy at heart Breakfast on Pluto is not afraid to explore difficult topics, such as transphobia, violence, prostitution and bigotry. The Troubles is present but more of a tragic backdrop to Kitten’s journey of self-discovery. Giving a subtle and graceful performance, Murphy quietly reveals Kitten’s pain behind her poised beauty. Overall, this melancholic yet empowering film delivers the laughs but also the uncomfortable but important reminders of the prejudices in the world and the never-ending battle for acceptance.

2 Black 47 (2018)

Black 47

Another historical drama, this dark but gripping experience is set during one of Ireland’s most devastating atrocities, the Great Famine. We follow an Irish soldier, named Hannah, and his journey not just to reunite with his family, but his discovery of who he really should be fighting for. It ignores violence, poverty and incredible suffering. Hannah, played by Hugo Weaving, witnesses so much pain and anguish, but encounters equally strong characters along the way. The dedication to setting and atmosphere is apparent, with lean, starving bodies, vast, empty lands, and skeletal, sad structures meant to be dwellings. However, amid the disaster and sadness, there is a theme of hope and justice that keeps us hooked. Plus, it’s just as action-packed!

1 Adam and Paul (2004)

Adam and Paul

What could be called “Ireland’s answer to Trainspotting”, this brutal comedy follows the (sometimes literal) ups and downs of two friends, the eponymous Adam (Mark O’Halloran) and Paul (Tom Murphy). These two heroin addicts will seemingly stoop to any level for their next fix, often finding themselves in goofy and compromising situations. With realistic yet witty writing, their banter and sense of being the “dynamic duo” are infectious. However, beneath this jovial and wacky surface hides a heartfelt tone: humanizing drug addicts. There are beautiful and tender moments that remind us, beneath the horrors of poverty and drug addiction, that people have good hearts.

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