Photo by: RTE

Top Irish TV shows and movies to watch on Netflix


Photo by: RTE

Here are our top 10 Irish views streaming on Netflix:

1. Love/Hate (2010 - Present)

The winner of nine Irish Film & Television awards in its first season and 10 during its second, this RTÉ crime drama is without a doubt the biggest thing to happen to Irish television in recent years. With three seasons now streaming on Netflix, it’s about time to see what all the hype - and the controversy - is about.

Love/Hate takes viewers deep into the Dublin criminal underworld. The series’ start sees ex-gangster Darren Treacy (played by Robert Sheehan) return to the way of life he fled in the wake of his brother’s murder, while John Boy (Aidan Gillen) and Nidge Delaney (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) compete for control of Dublin’s drug trade. "Love/Hate" has received some criticism for its more violent plot twists, but has also garnered widespread praise for its translation of themes from U.S. series such as "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" into a distinctly Irish mode of operating.

2. The Secret of Kells (2009)

This stunning Oscar-nominated feature will enchant viewers young and old. The work of Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon, "The Secret of Kells" draws upon The Book of Kells, Ireland’s venerable and most famous illuminated manuscript, for both its unique animation style and its plot. Set in the eighth century in the Abbey of Kells, it centers on a boy named Brendan whose uncle, the Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) watches over Kells with a well-intentioned but stern eye, intent upon building a wall high enough to keep out the Viking invaders. Having narrowly escaped a Viking attack on Iona, Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) and his cat Pangur Bán arrive in Kells, seeking a safe place to complete the Book of Iona illuminated manuscript. Against Abbot Cellach’s wishes, Brother Aidan soon enlists Brendan’s help, which results in him venturing into the forest outside of Kells’ walls, where he meets a spirit named Aisling. Danger of the snake-like pagan deity and the Viking variety ensues as Brendan must choose between obeying his uncle and protecting the book.The animation is simply breath-taking - unlike anything else before this film, or since.

3. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

Be advised that "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" should only be watched on a day when ample time can be set aside for some tears and deep contemplation of Irish history. Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney star as brothers from Co. Cork who fight alongside each other in their local IRA brigade during the War of Independence (1919-22) and then against each other in the Irish Civil War (1922-23). It is a wrenching and deeply personal examination of war and allegiance. Directed by British filmmaker Ken Loach and featuring an almost entirely Irish cast, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" set the record for the highest-grossing independent film released in Ireland and won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

4. My Left Foot (1989)

Esteemed Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s directorial debut, "My Left Foot" is the movie that made Daniel Day-Lewis and earned him his first Oscar. Here he takes on the role of real-life figure Christy Brown, an Irishman severely disabled by cerebral palsy, who came to write and paint using the only limb he could move - his left foot. The movie may not be quite as immediately gripping as "The Boxer" or politically charged as "In The Name of the Father" (both also directed by Jim Sheridan and both currently streaming on Netflix), but Day-Lewis gives an astounding performance, and contemporary film history has it that "My Left Foot" was the first movie for which he tried the total immersion form of method acting he’s now famous for. Day-Lewis insisted upon staying in character between takes, with the crew aiding him, and broke two ribs from spending so much time hunched over. Brenda Fricker, Cyril Cusack and Fiona Shaw top off the extraordinary cast.

5. The Field (1990)

For his second turn in the director’s chair, Jim Sheridan looked to John B. Keane’s 1965 play "The Field," seminal for its exploration of the importance of land to the Irish. Limerick-born Richard Harris stars at Bull McCabe, a farmer who has given everything to better the three acres, one rood and 32 perches plot of land his family has rented for generations. When its owner, the Widow Quinn, decides to put the field up for public auction, Bull’s claim to the land and his authority within the village are challenged by a wealthy American (played by Tom Berenger) whose ancestors emigrated from the area and who plans to build a hydroelectric dam. Brenda Fricker plays Bull’s wife, whom he hasn’t spoken to in 18 years; Sean Bean (most famous now for Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones) his overlooked son; and John Hurt his eccentric ally. The role revitalized Harris’s later career, earning him Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

6. Waking Ned Devine (1998)

This heart-warming madcap comedy is set in the Irish town of Tulaigh Mhór (though it was actually filmed on location in the Isle of Man) and features a number of Irish screen stars, including Fionnula Flanagan, Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Paul Vaughan, Susan Lynch and James Nesbitt. Word comes to Tulaigh Mhór that someone in the town has won the National Lottery. Eventually, they narrow it down to the reclusive Ned Devine, only to discover that he died from the shock of realizing his good fortune. After deciding that Ned would want them them to take the money, Jackie O’Shea (Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (Kelly) develop a scheme in which Michael will pretend to be Ned and claim the jackpot. The townspeople agree to cooperate for a share of the winnings, but can they convince the slightly skeptical lotto inspector?

7. In Bruges (2008)

If you’re a fan of humor so dark it toes the line between hilarious and truly uncomfortable, this first feature-length film by playwright Martin McDonagh is for you. "In Bruges" stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hit men, ordered by their boss (Ralph Feinnes) to take a “holiday” in Bruges after Farrell’s character Ray botches a job. Expect violent chases through the incongruously quaint Flemish city, doomed romance, an intimidating dwarf played by Jordan Prentice, rotund American tourists, bell towers, vengeance, and figures from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights come deliriously to life.

8. The Crying Game (1992)

A psycho-sexual thriller set against the backdrop of The Troubles, "The Crying Game" elicited controversy when it was released in the UK in 1992 - particularly for its sympathetic portrayal of an IRA operative (played by Stephen Rea). However, it went on to be huge hit in the U.S., receiving six Oscar nominations and winning Best Original Screenplay for Neil Jordan, who was also the film’s director. Today, some call it underrated, while others count the final plot twist among the most surprising endings in film history. Either way, "The Crying Game" has earned its spot as a cult classic.

9. The Dead (1987)

If you’ve grown weary of the more treacly holiday entertainment fare, take 83 minutes to watch "The Dead." The last and arguably most sensitive work of legendary director John Huston, which he directed from a wheelchair at 80 years of age, "The Dead" quietly triumphs at what many thought to be the impossible task of translating James Joyce’s landmark short story into film. It unfolds over the course of Epiphany night (January 6) in Dublin in 1904 - first roving from character to character at the Morkan sisters’ annual dinner and dance, and then settling on its protagonists Gabriel Conroy and his wife, Gretta. Anjelica Huston (it would be her last time working with her father), Donal McCann and the all-Irish cast, many of whom were actors from the Abbey Theatre, are marvelous.

10. The Fall (2013)

This BBC miniseries thriller has been a game-changer in terms of how Northern Ireland’s capital is portrayed in popular culture. Corruption, local politics and sectarian violence still lurk in the background, but the series’ main focus is a hunt for a serial killer that could take place in almost any city in the world. Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) stars as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, who is brought over from London to investigate a murderer (played by a terrifying and at times uncomfortably sympathetic Jamie Dornan) who is targeting young professional women around Belfast.The series is smart, challenging and tricky, with just the right melding of sub-plots and red herrings to keep viewers constantly guessing. "The Fall" is also one of your last chances to see Belfast-born-and-raised Dornan in action before he becomes famous for playing the rich, dominant and frequently naked Christian Grey in the "50 Shades of Grey" film.

Also check out: "The Boy in Striped Pajamas" (2008) based on the award-winning novel by Irish author John Boyne; "Stella Days" (2011), starring Martin Sheen as an Irish priest who brings a cinema to his parish; "The General" (1998) - Brendan Gleeson’s major breakout role as notorious crime boss Martin Cahill; and "In the Name of the Father" (1993) and "The Boxer" (1997), Jim Sheridan’s masterful further collaborations with Daniel Day-Lewis.


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