Anyone who's spent time near South Boston (Southie, as it's known) will tell you that there's no shortage of Irish guys who like to drink and fight. Maybe it's in their nature, going back to the old potato famine. There was no food, so you had to do something to keep your mind off your hunger, namely drink whiskey and club each other. In order to stand out as a true badass in this rough and tumble crowd, you need to be particularly tough. The guys on this list are six of the most badass Irish characters ever to appear on TV or film!
Priest Vallon, "Gangs of New York"
Priest is a man fuelled by the a quest to avenge his father. Mix that with his Irish heritage, and you have a white, gold, and green powderkeg waiting to explode. The target of his rage The murderous and jingoistic Bill the Butcher, played brilliantly by Daniel Day Lewis. After working to get close to Bill, Priest's hot-headedness gets the best of him and takes a beating from Bill, but Priest eventually gets his final showdown to try and get some vengeance.
Michael Collins, "Michael Collins"
Liam Neeson, who appears in quite a number of Irish roles, takes up the lead in "Michael Collins," the story of the Irish Patriot who was murdered in 1922. Collins battled against the British and put his life on the line numerous times in order to try and earn Irish freedom, and he was also responsible in large part for the rise of the Irish Republic Army (the IRA). The movie takes a decidedly one-sided look at the conflict, but the movie is powerful nonetheless, and Collins in vicious and fearless in his pursuit of freedom.
Frank Costello, "The Departed"
Costello is a ruthless man. Based in part on Whitey Bulger, infamous head of Boston's Irish Mob, Frank Costello will do just about anything to keep himself living the life to which he has become accustomed. He earned all of his success, although he did so through nefarious means. Frank's brutal interrogation of a young William Costigan who's looking to join his enterprise is a scene that's jaw-dropping in its savagery.
Danny Flynn, "The Boxer"
You don't spend fourteen years in prison without becoming a true badass. Granite-hard from his years behind bars and his boxing career before that, Danny "Scrapper" Flynn is caught between his loyalty to his old IRA friends and his desire to leave all of that violence behind. He remains a sympathetic figure despite his troubled past, but even with that sympathy, few people would be foolish enough to think that Danny was anything less than the ultimate Irish badass.
Connor and Murphy McManus, "Boondock Saints"
Two avenging angels from South Boston take center stage in "Boondock Saints." The movie became a cult hit based primarily on the charismatic Irish McManus brothers (of course, Willem Dafoe didn't hurt things). Tough beyond all comprehension, the brothers lay waste to the insidious elements who are trying to destroy the Irish purity of their old neighborhoods, and they do so with stylish beatdowns.
James "Jem" Coughlin, "The Town"
Jem is a real Charlestown, MA psychopath. He's got a fierce sense of loyalty, but at the same time his own desire to stay out of prison makes him a dangerous person. He seems to have no problem using violence to get his way. Jeremy Renner did a fabulous job in this role, so good in fact that he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award in a movie that wasn't exactly flush with great acting or a great script.