A JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY IRISH & IRISH AMERICAN AFFAIRS 
Summer 2020 / VOL. 20 ISSUE 3

Nearly all of us are still staying at home as much as possible, and even though some places are agitating to get back outside, it still seems the most sensible idea is to stay where you are, keep washing your hands, and be sure you – and everyone around you – is safe.

 

To help you while you wait it out, we have compiled a guide to Irish movies and shows that you can stream online. A couple of warnings though: remember that despite what you might think not everything is available online (far from it) and be aware that subscribing to all these services can quickly add up.

 

Nevertheless, grab a treat or two, make yourself a cup of something hot (or pour an adult beverage) and let the worries of the world drift away for a while.

 

We start with Netflix, which is pretty much the biggest kid in the playground. Subscriptions come in three levels – Basic, Standard and Premium – and the cost ranges from $9-$16 per month.

 

Derry Girls

We really need a laugh these days, so check out “Derry Girls” (2 seasons). Shot almost entirely in the North of Ireland and written by Lisa McGee, these six-part comedy/drama series take a look into the life of 16-year-old Erin Quinn (Saoirse-Monica Jackson).

 

She lives with her difficult mother (Tara Lynne O’Neill) and long-suffering father (Tommy Tiernan), and seeks solace for all her teen troubles with cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) and her Catholic school friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), and Michelle's English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn).

 

Set in the second largest city in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles” in the early 1990s, it has been an unexpectedly huge hit and even inspiring a walking tour in Derry! A third season is due this year. 

 

Peaky Blinders

For some real binge-watching Netflix has five seasons of the extremely historical gangster drama “Peaky Blinders”.

 

Set in Birmingham, England, the epic story starts in 1919 and centers on the eponymous (and very well-dressed) “Peaky Blinders” gang led by Tommy Shelby (Cork-born Cillian Murphy) and his nemesis Chester Campbell (Armagh-born Sam Neill), a DCI in the Royal Irish Constabulary who has been sent to put a halt to their many scams and crimes.

 

Over the ensuing years (and series) we see the Peaky Blinders expand their operations – including gun smuggling – but not all goes to plan, of course. As for what a “peaky blinder” is? You’ll have to watch to find out!

 

Puffin Rock

Many readers will have their kids at home too – so many schools are closed – so check out the highly enjoyable two seasons of “Puffin Rock”, an animated pre-school series narrated by Chris O’Dowd and produced in Derry in the North of Ireland.

 

As you might imagine, the series is about a family of lovable puffins (Oona, her younger brother Baba, and their parents) who live on a wild Irish island. It’s a very special island too, as it’s also home to a pygmy shrew, a fox, and owl, and lots of other cute creatures that the little ones will love. A feature-length movie is in development.

 

Amazon Prime

At 12.99/month or $119 a year (the first 30 days of the annual subscription are free), this service has plenty of Irish movies of all kinds to watch.

 

Period classics like Liam Neeson in Michael Collins, the award-winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley, comedies Waking Ned Devine and The Guard, Daniel Day-Lewis in dark drama In The Name of the Father, live action/documentary Framing John DeLorean starring Alec Baldwin, and old classics The Quiet Man with Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne, and even Sean Connery (believe it or not!) in Disney’s 1959 effort Darby O’Gill and the Little People are all here – but they don’t come for free (or not quite).

 

The truth is, many people sign up for Amazon Prime because they get free delivery on purchases, and so rental costs tend to be $1.99 - $3.99 per movie. 

 

There are some free steals with your membership though: check out “Troubles” movie Nothing Personal, Pierce Brosnan’s 2002 family drama weepie Evelyn, and, in a quirk of programming (presumably because lead actress Saoirse Ronan in Irish – well, Irish-American) you can see her Oscar-nominated performance in 2017 teenage coming-of-age drama Lady Bird.

 

Highly-acclaimed serial killer drama “The Fall”, which was set in Belfast and starred Gillian Anderson and Co. Down native Jamie Dornan has all three series here for zip, and certain to please everyone is a classic 1990s comedy that was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

Set on the fictional Craggy Island, a remote location off Ireland's west coast, it followed the crazy adventures of Fathers Ted, Dougal and Jack – and their tea-obsessed housekeeper Mrs. Doyle. You will, you will, you will: “Father Ted” is guaranteed to make everyone laugh.

 

If you want something to make everyone laugh and sing, then shell out just 99c: that’s the cost to stream ever-popular rollicking musical comedy The Commitments.

 

Amazon Prime is a bit of a portal too, which means you can also access content from other cable and streaming companies – they’re usually on offer to try and get you hooked.

 

So, free to watch (but only with a trial) are many programs from Acorn TV, which you can subscribe to individually for $5.99 per month or $59.99 a year. You’ll find Ballymena-born James Nesbitt in five seasons of cop drama “Murphy’s Law,” and Enniskillen’s Adrian Dunbar in “Blood”,” a gripping drama about a doctor in a small Irish town. 

 

That should be plenty to keep you going for now!

Which Irish Shows to Watch

While You're at Home

 

By: James Bartlett

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