Irish films – what to watch to learn about Ireland’s history

Ireland is not just a country of beautiful nature and friendly people. It is a land with an incredibly deep history, interesting mythology and traditions. For those planning to connect with the Emerald Isle, or who are already here, it’s worth taking a deep dive into the local culture. One of the best ways to do this is to watch films about Ireland. We’ve compiled our list of the best films about the country to help you understand what Ireland is all about.

Michael Collins (1996)

A feature film called Michael Collins is the 1996 work of Irish director Neil Jordan. The film is set in early 20th century Ireland. This historical drama tells the story of the life of an aide to the leader of the Irish independence movement.  The protagonist of the film is Michael Collins. This man fought hard for the independence of his country. The main hero lived only 32 years, but managed to make a huge contribution to the history of his country. At the age of 26 he was already the leader of the Easter Rising and after Ireland gained independence he became Minister of Finance and Prime Minister.

Michael Collins

71 (2014)

This film describes the events of Northern Ireland in 1971. At this time, military conflict reaches the point where civil war is about to break out. A young British soldier, Gary Hook, is sent with his unit to Belfast, where there are constant clashes between Protestants and Catholics. Both sides have fierce fighters and during each skirmish people die and no one is able to pacify the crowd. Due to circumstances, Gary loses his weapon and is left alone with the mob. Gary is beaten and abandoned by his fellow soldiers in enemy territory.


“The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (2006)

At the beginning of the 20th century Ireland was gripped by unrest. Peasants and workers are fighting British units (who are supposed to quell the rebellion in Ireland) for independence. Damien, a doctor who has decided to leave his career, along with his brother Teddy, decide to join the battle for independence. In the end, the kinsmen, united by the same idea, turn out to be adversaries. 

tThe wind that Shakes

Philomena (2013)

The film is named after the protagonist, who gave birth to a child at an early age, for which she was condemned by those around her and sent to a convent. The child was given to an American foster family. Filomena, on the other hand, is constantly humiliated while in a nunnery. One day she succeeds in escaping from her own “prison” and begins a free life. During her life the woman has managed to achieve a lot, but she never managed to find her child. And a journalist, interested in Philomena’s story, tries to get to the bottom of how the church can influence people’s lives and their destinies.


Bloody Sunday (2002)

The film tells the story of the events of 30 January 1972 in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland. It was then that British soldiers opened fire on Irish rights activists. Thirteen demonstrators were killed and 14 others were wounded. “Bloody Sunday” marked the beginning of a brutal and bloody civil war that lasted 25 years. 

Bloody Sunday

Hunger (2008)

Prisoners (members of the Irish Republican Army) try to achieve political status for themselves. It all starts with their refusal to obey prison rules, but this approach fails. The rights activists ar protesting about being physically abused and forced to obey. Eventually one of the prisoners, Bobby Sands, decides to go on a hunger strike. 


Ryan’s Daughter (1970)

The events of the film unfold in an Irish village during the First World War. A married woman, Rosie Ryan, has an affair with a British officer who is investigating links between the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and German troops. 

Ryans Daughter

Some mother’s son (1996)

The film is based on events involving Irish republicans in 1981 – a prisoner hunger strike. Two friends, Gerard and Frank, are on the run from the law. The mother of one of them is totally supportive of her son and the mother of the other friend has to make a choice between a relationship with her son and obeying the law. The film will have you experiencing a wide range of emotions. 

Some mothers son

In the name of the father (1993)

The film “In the name of the father” is based on the true events unfolding around the Guildford Four. In the south of England in the town of Guildford in 1975, two pubs were bombed. Unfair accusations of organising the bombing fell on four Irishmen who were sent to long prison terms. One of those convicted was a father and son who were brutally tortured and tormented in prison. The long years spent imprisoned will change the lives of the heroes.

In the name of the fther

The secret of Roan Irish (1994)

After the end of the Second World War and the death of her mother, ten-year-old Fiona goes to Ireland to stay with her grandparents. They tell the girl the legend that there are seals whose skin becomes human flesh as soon as they step out of the water. According to their story, Fiona’s mother was like this seal. Eventually the girl discovers that her little brother had drowned in the sea some years before. It is not long before she sees a boy on an island nearby…

The secret of roan Irish

My left foot (1989)

The story centres on a man overcoming adversity for the sake of his dreams. Irishman Christy Brown is ill and confined to a wheelchair, seemingly forever. People didn’t see him as a full-fledged human being, and they didn’t really pay any attention to him. However, with the support of his family, he has managed to integrate into society and has been incredibly successful in his creative work.

My left foot

Sing Street (2016)

A 15-year-old boy lives a life typical of his age. Suddenly, his parents transfer Conor to a new school. From then on, the boy’s life changes. Due to the country’s falling economy and the financial crisis of the 1980s, Conor’s family has to send him to study at a free Christian school, where he feels like the “black sheep”. However, Conor not only makes new friends there, he also starts his own music band. Conor has no idea where his love of music will take him.


Kateryna Mazovetska
Kateryna Mazovetska

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