The Ten Spot: Best Irish Movie Characters (Video Edition!)

With St. Patrick's Day coming up soon, I thought it would be appropriate to run through the long and colorful history of Irish characters on the big screen. There have been way more than ten of them in the hundred years of cinematic history, but these are the ten best. You are welcome to add your own to the list in the talkbacks below. For the rest of you, Sláinte!

#1 - Priest Vallon in GANGS OF NEW YORK

The world is full of badasses and priests, but when you get a badass priest, you better watch yourself. The only character with enough awesome sauce to combat Daniel Day-Lewis' Bill the Butcher was Priest Vallon who looks like he could kick ass for the lord and cut you down in an instant. It is a shame his character is limited to the introduction to the movie, but Leonardo DiCaprio's Amsterdam certainly does a good job of picking up his old man's arms and battling for Irish pride. Definitely the most kick ass Irish character of all time.


I hate THE BOONDOCK SAINTS with a passion, but I love Billy Connolly. Despite being Scottish, he plays the Irish father to the titular brothers, the hitman known as Il Duce. Connolly's thick accent clearly shows he is not Irish, but he is a kick as character who swoops in for the concluding bloodbath in this movie. I won't mention the garbage sequel to this movie, but will instead simply reference the clip above.

#3 - Mickey O'Neil in SNATCH

Ya got a deadly kick fer a fat focker. I need to have a shite. Fook, 'e's a big fella. Now look, she wants the Heki 2 roof lights, uh, the stylish ash frame furniture, and the scatter cushions with, uh, matching shag pile cover. Yeah. Right. And she's terrible partial to the periwinkle blue boss. Ya stay until the job is done. Nobody brings a fella the size o' him, 'less they're tryin' to say somethin' without talkin'. What do I want with a caravan that's got no fockin' wheels?!

#4 - Christy Brown in MY LEFT FOOT

Daniel Day-Lewis completely inhabits every character he has played and he has portrayed several significant Irish roles in movies like IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER andTHE BOXER, but it was his staggering performance as Christy Brown in MY LEFT FOOT that firmly put him on the map. Day-Lewis always goes method for his roles, but to play a cerebral palsy sufferer who can only control his left foot, he went above and beyond, even causing some physical harm to himself in the process. That is dedication to your craft and the result is an incredibly moving film.

#5 - Ken and Ray in IN BRUGES

Not enough can be said about this movie and how fantastic it is. I was going to say any movie with Brendan Gleeson should make this list, but this is my favorite performance from him. Combined with Colin Farrell delivering one of his best as well, IN BRUGES ranks very high on my list. It would be an understatement to say that this movie did not get the recognition it deserved when it was in theaters, but it has come alive on home video. You're an inanimate f*cking object!

#6 - Sean Miller in PATRIOT GAMES

This was the first movie I saw Sean Bean get killed in. As we all know, it was far from the last, but here he plays one of his more complex characters. Sean Miller is motivated purely by revenge, but you can see everything seething in his expressions. I probably shouldn't base my historical knowledge of the struggles of Northern Ireland on BLOWN AWAY and PATRIOT GAMES, but I do. So sue me. This is probably the best Tom Clancy adaptation of them all. Feel free to argue.

#7 - Ryan Gaerity in BLOWN AWAY

I always forget about this movie. BLOWN AWAY kicks all kinds of ass. Okay, I will admit the Irish accents are pretty awful, but Tommy Lee Jones playing a bad guy of this caliber of crazy is a sight to behold. It may be just me, but I can see elements of his portrayal of Two-Face germinating here in his bugnuts take on IRA bomber Ryan Gaerity. In the end, this movie works because the elaborate bombings are filmed so well. So, ignore the accents and watch this fun action movie.

#8 - Francie Brady in THE BUTCHER BOY

Neil Jordan's name on a movie is usually enough for me to check it out, but I have been burned before by bad movies like IN DREAMS. However, THE BUTCHER BOY quickly became one of my favorite movies and one I recommend to any movie buff. The movie tells the story of a young boy growing up in 1960's Ireland in an abusive houehold. He eventually succumbs to his schizophrenia and goes on a rampage through the town. While not quite school shooting territory, the effects are stunning. Young star Eamonn Owens is phenomenal and the supporting cast including Stephen Rea, Fiona Shaw, and Sinead O'Connor are top notch.


The other movie that ruined St. Patrick's Day for me was DARBY O'GILL. This is from the same time period where Disney didn't realize their movies were going to scar a generation of kids. The Banshee in this movie scared the piss out of me for years. Darby himself is a creepy looking old man and the leprechauns are creepy little f*cks. The movie is notable for the inclusion of a very young, pre-Bond Sean Connery who steals the show. Do not watch this with your kids.

#10 - The Leprechaun in LEPRECHAUN

The Leprechaun haunted my nightmares as a child if only because he is so damn ugly. The character, like Chucky from the CHILD'S PLAY movies, eventually became a spoof of himself. But, the movies are still a ridiculous amount of fun. The original movie is memorable for the great line "F*ck you, Lucky Charms!" But, for the most batshit crazy enjoyment, check out LEPRECHAUN IN SPACE and LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD. They are just so nuts that they deserve recognition.

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