With verdant hills, wind-swept cliffs, intriguing folklore, and a not-too-distant history of tragic famine and war, the country of Ireland makes for a fertile cinematic backdrop. From comedies, dramas, and romance to action, adventure, and fantasy, dozens of award-winning and critically acclaimed films have been set on the Emerald Isle. (Can you solve these real “Jeopardy!” clues about Irish culture?)
To determine the best films set in Ireland, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of August 2022, weighting all ratings equally. Only movies set fully or partially in Ireland or Northern Ireland were considered. (Though Northern Ireland is a separate country, and part of the United Kingdom, the term “Ireland” refers to the entire island.)
The Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) set the stage for many of the films, with various factions of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) playing central roles. “The Troubles,” a 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland that occurred from the late ‘60s to the late ‘90s is also a common thematic element.
A few films, including “Angela’s Ashes,” are based on autobiographies or memoirs. Three films were directed by the Irish playwright and Academy Award-nominated director Jim Sheridan, while three others were directed by award-winning Irish writer and director Neil Jordan. Many star famous Irish actors including Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, and Gabriel Byrne. (Have some Irish heritage? Check out the 35 most Irish cities in America.)
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