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Be inspired every day with Living North
Patrick Metzdorf Unsplash
Staying in
March 2021
Reading time 5 minutes
Escape to the Emerald Isle this St Patrick’s Day.
Sing Street

Sing Street (2016)

What do you do if you’re a teenage boy in 1980s Dublin, desperate for escape from your difficult home life and equally keen to impress a girl at your new school? You start a band, of course. A feelgood film with a big heart.


Brooklyn (2015)

Fabulous acting, even more fabulous scenery and a believable love triangle where it’s hard to know who should end up with who – what more could you want from a film? Saoirse Ronan giving a masterclass in understated acting? You got it. The story of a young woman’s choice between two very different lives, torn between New York and Wexford in the 1950s, this film is about the joy and sadness that comes with not belonging, and of finding your place in the world.

The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man (1950)

Look, we’ll take any excuse for a bit of John Wayne, and this was filmed in Mayo and Galway, so it totally counts! Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irish-American boxer who heads back to his ancestral homeland and falls for Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara), the sister of the local squire. Confusion about a dowry and local custom comes between them, and there’s a hugely enjoyable (and very long) fight between Wayne and Victor McLaglen (who plays O’Hara’s brother) too.

The Commitments

The Commitments (1991)

When a group of working class Dubliners get together to form a soul band, good things happen. This funny and fast-paced film is packed with authentic performances, memorable lines (‘Betcha U2 are sh*ttin’ themselves’) and, most importantly, it’s got soul.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2007)

Often named among the greatest Irish films of all time, Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley is set against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, and follows two brothers as they join the guerrilla war against the British. Cillian Murphy (in his pre-Shelby days) and Pádraic Delaney star as the brothers in this epic tale of loyalty, betrayal and loss.

The Guard

The Guard (2011)

The highest-grossing independent film in Irish history largely flew under the radar on this side of the Irish Sea, but we’d recommend giving this off-beat buddy cop comedy a chance. Brendan Gleeson is a confrontational Garda officer in Connemara (not averse to drinking or taking drugs on duty) who teams up with Don Cheadle’s strait-laced FBI officer to investigate an international drug ring. Pleasantly eccentric.

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You (2007)

Yes this film is mostly Hilary Swank and she is from Nebraska, and the film is largely set in New York, but as grieving widow Holly travels around Ireland, following the instructions of her late husband, we see some of the best of the Emerald Isle. While overly sweet for some, this is a touching film.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins (1996)

Liam Neeson plays the revolutionary, soldier and politician Michael Collins during the struggle for independence, beginning with the Easter Rising in 1916 and following the fights, elections and executions which came after it. While it’s not a totally accurate picture historically, the film does a good job of showcasing the intricate, intertwined relationships and events which shaped this crucial period of Irish history.

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