10 Best Irish Republican Army Movies

Thursday, March 24 by Brenda Daverin

From the fight for Irish independence from Great Britain to today, the stories in the ten best Irish Republican Army movies are sure to entertain. And possibly spark some spirited discussions, so be careful with the whisky and Guinness while you watch them.  

  1. "The Crying Game." The movie everyone remembers for the "secret" of Dil's anatomy was far more than Jaye Davidson's ability to portray a transgender woman. Neil Jordan's tale of IRA operatives and shifting relationships is the best Irish Republican Army movie for modern times.
  2. "In the Name of the Father." Based on real-life events, this IRA movie shows what happened when innocent Irishmen were accused of the Guildford pub bombings. Seeing how Great Britain messed up handling their terrorists might make you wonder at how we handle ours.
  3. "Patriot Games." Just in case you're tired of the crazy bad guys being English, this movie gives you an Irish one. Sean Bean's quest for revenge on Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan makes this Irish Republican Army movie a rarity for the genre: a popcorn thriller.
  4. "Michael Collins." Neil Jordan strikes again, this time with a biographical piece on one of the leading voices in the Easter Rising. Collins survived the Rising and wound up on the pro-Anglo-Irish Treaty side of the Irish Civil War. A real discussion-starter of a movie if you love Irish history.
  5. "The Wind that Shakes the Barley." A common man's perspective on the war for Irish independence, this movie focuses on two brothers from Cork who join the IRA and face the same argument their leaders did over the Treaty. Widely considered the best Irish Republican Army movie that focuses on the war for independence.
  6. "Bloody Sunday." This docu-drama about the event most Americans think of as the start of the Troubles pulls no punches in depicting the massacre at Derry. The British government only recently owned up to its failures that day. This Irish Republican Army movie was part of why.
  7. "Hunger." This is the only Irish Republican Army movie in this list that doesn't show the IRA using guns to get their point across. That doesn't make it less harrowing. The struggle of Bobby Sands and the other Maze Prison hunger strikers to get the respect they desired was a pivot point in the Troubles.
  8. "A Fistful of Dynamite." A spaghetti Western by Sergio Leone may seem out of place in a list of IRA movies. But the tale of an IRA member who splits for Mexico and the bandit he befriends has echoes of the Irish struggle for independence and Mexico's own problems with Spain and France over time.
  9. "Shake Hands With the Devil." Another common-man take on the Irish Civil War, this James Cagney vehicle cast him as an Irishman so used to fighting he sees it as the end instead of the means. The emotional cost of war is highlighted at least as much as the body count here.
  10. "The Devil's Own." Harrison Ford keeps facing off against the IRA in his movies. In this one, he's a New York cop who unwittingly takes in a couple of operatives on the run and gets tangled in the darker side of American support of Irish Republican Army actions. Another popcorn thriller, albeit with a deeper angle.
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