From the rolling green hills to the quaint, cobblestone streets, the landscapes of Ireland have been a captivating backdrop for so many of our favorite films. Though, it’s not just the picturesque environment that makes movies set in Ireland noteworthy. It’s also the rich history, unique culture, and wonderfully constructed narratives that are deeply rooted in Irish society.
We’ve compiled a list of nine must-see movies set in Ireland, each one capturing different facets of the Emerald Isle’s charm and character. From Sing Street to Belfast to The Banshees of Inisherin and so many more, check out the full list below.
Must-See Movies Set in Ireland
Belfast takes place in the Northern Irish city and is described as a very personal project for actor/director Kenneth Branagh, who helmed the film. The film follows a young boy named Buddy, who comes from a working-class Ulster Protestant family during the tumultuous period in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. The coming-of-age story also depicted Protestant families’ oppression in predominantly Catholic parts of the region.
The black-and-white feature received multiple Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Belfast won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The award-winning film stars Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, and Ciaran Hinds.
Sing Street (2016)
There have been a lot of musical films set in Ireland over the years. This list cites a few of those.
Sing Street takes place in Dublin in the 1980s. The movie follows Conor, who transfers from a private school to an inner-city institution. During his period of adjustment to his new school, Conor decides to start a band. The formation of the band was partly to impress a girl named Raphina, but with his brother’s encouragement, Conor is inspired to actively pursue music.
It’s another coming-of-age story paired with an amazing soundtrack that movie buffs, especially fans of the 1980s, would appreciate.
Sing Street stars Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna, and Aidan Gillen.
The Commitments (1991)
Another musically-inclined story set in Ireland, The Commitments is based on Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel of the same name. It is also the first in The Barrytown film trilogy. The movie takes place in the Northside of Dublin and follows a man named Jimmy Rabbitte, who forms a soul band called The Commitments. Jimmy assembles a group of working-class people as its members in an effort to revive the 1960s sound.
The two other movies in the trilogy are The Snapper and The Van, which were released in 1193 and 1996 respectively. The Commitments stars Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle, Dave Finnegan, Bronagh Gallagher, Felim Gormley, Glen Hansard, Dick Massey, Johnny Murphy, Kenneth McCluskey, and Andrew Strong.
Perhaps one of the most popular movies in recent decades, with a soundtrack that is hard to forget. Oh, and it’s also another musical film set in Ireland. It’s also another film directed by John Carney, who also helmed Sing Street.
The musical romantic drama that is Once follows a vacuum repairman who also busks on the street. His performance moves a Czech flower seller and she tells him she’s a musician too. Throughout the course of the film, they collaborate, with songs that reflect the romance developing between them.
Once produced one of the most popular movie songs, “Falling Slowly,” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 2008 Oscars. The movie is also one of the most critically acclaimed Irish movies ever made.
Once stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
The award-winning The Banshees of Inisherin is also a must-see film that is set in Ireland. Directed by Martin McDonagh, the movie takes place at the end of the Irish Civil War in 1923. It follows two longtime friends, Colm and Padraic. They find themselves at a crossroads when Colm decides to end their friendship. Colm thinks Padraic is too dull of a friend and wants to spend the rest of his life composing music and doing things he can be remembered for.
However, Padraic refuses to put their friendship to an end. This only strengthens Colm’s resolve, and he continues to resist attempts to make amends. Eventually, Colm presents Padraic with an ultimatum: Whenever Padraic comes to meet with him, Colm will cut off one of his own fingers.
The movie received multiple award nominations since its premiere. The Banshees of Inisherin held the most Golden Globe nominations since Cold Mountain in 2004, winning three awards out of its eight nominations. It also received nine Academy Award nominations and 10 nominations at the BAFTAs, which it won four.
The Banshees of Inisherin stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan.
The Quiet Man (1952)
One of the oldest films set in Ireland, The Quiet Man follows boxer Sean Thornton, who leaves the US to return to Ireland. After arriving, Sean meets a woman named Mary Kate Danaher, the sister of Squire “Red” Will Danaher. Will is interested in buying the old Thornton property, something that Sean was set to do upon returning to Ireland. But when the property’s current owner accepts Sean’s bid to purchase the old farm, Sean retaliates by refusing to consent for Sean to marry Mary Kate.
The Quiet Man ended up winning two Academy Awards, including John Ford for Best Director. It stars John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Mildred Netwick, and Francis Ford.
The Guard (2011)
A buddy cop film set in Ireland, Sergeant Gerry Boyle teams up with FBI agent Wendell Everett to investigate a drug trafficking case. The case takes a turn when one of Boyle’s subordinates, Aidan McBride goes missing.
The Guard stars Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham, and Fionnula Flanagan.
Calvary is a dark film with Ireland serving as the backdrop of the whole story. Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, whose life is suddenly in danger when a man tells him of his plans to kill him. Being given only a week to arrange his affairs, Father James seeks to reconcile with his daughter.
Calvary stars Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Gillen, Kelly Reilly, Dylan Moran, Isaach de Bankole, M. Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josee Croze, and Domhnall Gleeson.
In the Name of the Father (1993)
Set in Northern Ireland, In the Name of the Father follows the men wrongly convicted for the Guildford Pub bombings. In particular, the movie focuses on Gerry Conlon and his experiences in prison before ultimately being exonerated.
In the Name of the Father received seven Academy Award nominations. This included Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, and Pete Postlethwaite.
Did your favorite movies set in Ireland make the list? Let us know in the comment section below!