I’m Alexandra. An American girl living in Dublin, Ireland. I honestly document my adventures in travel, food, beauty, and expat life on a budget.

10 Movies to Watch Before Your Trip to Ireland

10 Movies to Watch Before Your Trip to Ireland

So, you’re coming on a trip to Ireland? YAY!! I am so excited for you! To get you ready for your trip I have complied the top 10 Irish movies you should watch on a few topics to exhibit different ways of life in Ireland in different eras. Please keep in mind that I am not in any way, shape, or form a film critic; I just wanted to share some movies that take place in Ireland, are about Ireland, or about Irish history in general.

My Left Foot –My Left Foot isn’t all the way accurate in terms of Christy Brown’s life, but it is a good representation of life in 1950s Dublin. I begged my mom to watch this with me last time I was home, and she didn’t…. until after I left! Once she did, she texted me how good it was. This is one of the many Jim Sheridan films you’ll see pop up on this list.


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The Snapper – I don’t think it should come as a surprise that there won’t be a lot of comedies on this list since most of these films are based on true stories or are historical fiction. The Snapper is from the early 90s, so it looks a bit dated but it is still so good. I think it does a great job of showing a shift in the Irish approach to unwed mothers/men’s role in pregnancy all while keeping you laughing.


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The Commitments – This is an Irish classic.  It has comedy, drama, and a bit of music. What more could you want? This movie is fun, but it also shows working-class Dubliners attempting to forge a better life than what they currently have.


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The Magdalene Sisters – If you watch any movies on the Magdalene Laundries, this should be it. I have done a huge amount of research (like, an actual entire thesis) on the Magdalene Laundries and I think this movie does an excellent job of showcasing reasons women were sent to them and demonstrating how unjustifiably horrible the Catholic Church was to these women and children.  


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In the Name of the Father – Another Daniel Day- Lewis movie! Based on the true story of the Guildford Four, Jim Sheridan once again does an excellent job telling the story of those involved. If you like stories about people being falsely accused of crimes and their struggle to prove their innocence, then this one is for you. The film, not 100% historically accurate, does do a decent job of not veering off too far from the truth.


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Into the West – If you cry easily like I do make sure you have the tissues ready when you watch this. This film is about two traveller brothers, their white stallion, and their journey in discovering their family history. It has quite a few funny parts between the two brothers while respectfully presenting traveller culture.


The Field – This is a heavy one, for a few reasons. The movie follows Bull McCabe and the many struggles he faces; some brought on himself and some brought on by others. When a rich American comes to town things really take a turn for the worst. There is a lot going on but it will keep you hooked from beginning to end.


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Intermission – Absolute essential viewing if you are interested in Dublin or will be visiting Dublin because you will see so much of town in the film! This has just about every Irish actor in it. This is one of those movies that has multiple storylines, but they all end up connecting in a way. I love movies like that so if you do too, this is one to add to your list.


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The Guard – This is a thriller that still has a few laughs along the way. Brendan Gleeson is an Irish cop working with a much more uptight American FBI agent played by Don Cheadle. The unlikely pair come together to uncover corruption while keeping you on the edge of your seat.



Calvary – This is another heavy movie, but it is so so good. Brendan Gleeson plays a priest in a small village who receives a death threat from an unknown parishioner. This film also touches on a lot of issues from Ireland’s past (clerical sex abuse) as well as problems such as depression, loss, and alcoholism. The storyline  is moving and the scenery of the coast of the west of Ireland is seriously breath-taking.


Honourable Mentions:


P.S. I Love You – This is not an Irish movie in my opinion. Gerard Butler is Scottish, and the movie takes place in America. The book however is very Irish! Did you know that it was written by the former Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern’s daughter, Cecelia? I would recommend reading the book over watching the movie because they are very different. The movie isn’t bad but often, the book is better and that is true in this case. That said, I really feel like this scene is how it sounds when P and I fight, haha!


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Gang of New York – Like P.S. I Love You, this isn’t really an Irish movie. But, it is a movie about Irish immigrants and the anti-immigrant attitudes they were met with in America in the 1860s. Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz do the most laughable Irish accents you’ll ever hear (besides mine) while Daniel Day-Lewis does an extremely believable American accent. Hey, you don’t get 3 Best Actor Academy Awards for doing mediocre accents.

 Let me know if you check any of these out! If you’re coming to Ireland or thinking of coming (maybe these movies will make you book that flight!) and have any questions feel free to reach out.

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