5 Great Films to Help You Master an Irish Accent

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Photo Source: “Belfast” Credit: Rob Youngson/Focus Features

You could spend St. Patrick’s Day watching local politicians and kiddie leprechauns march in your local parade. But envision Liam Neeson whispering in your ear, “That’s not going to help you learn the very particular set of skills needed to nail a believable Irish accent!” 

The more educational—not to mention inspiring, soulful, amusing, and blessedly less crowded—option is to stay on the couch and watch a beloved Irish movie. Not only will it be a good time, but if you’re an actor, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the difficult-to-mimic Irish brogue. The Emerald Isle’s film industry has turned out some of the greatest pieces of cinema in history. 

Here are five beloved Irish movies featuring fan-favorite actors for you to check out, as well as quotes from each that are particularly dialect- and slang-heavy. To make the most of your pronunciation practice, we’d advise saving that celebratory pint of Guinness until after your binge watch.

“My Left Foot” (1989)

Daniel Day-Lewis gives a master class in this biopic from Jim Sheridan and Shane Connaughton—a performance that earned the actor his first Oscar. He stars as Christy Brown, an Irishman who was born with cerebral palsy in 1932. Despite overwhelming physical and financial obstacles, Brown teaches himself how to paint and write poetry using the only limb he can control.

Try saying: “You’re very bloody nosy, Christy Brown!” 

Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

“Waking Ned Devine” (1998)

Kirk Jones’ delightful fable follows elderly friends Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelly), as they set out to uncover who in their tiny village of 52 people has won the Irish National Lottery. When the townspeople discover that the lucky man, the titular Ned (Jim Keogh), died of shock when he heard the good news, they band together to trick the claim inspector into believing that he’s alive and kicking so that they can collect his prize money. It’s like Weekend at Bernie’s, minus the goofy corpse.

Try saying: “Annie, bring me me apple tart, will you? The lotto’s startin’. Oh, yes! There she goes—number 19. Annie, come in. Bring me me tart. We got the first one. Japers, Annie! Can you believe it? I got the second!”

Where to watch: Available to rent on Prime Video

“Once” (2007)

John Carney’s movie musical is a great watch for anyone in need of a creative jolt. After a lonely Dublin busker (Glen Hansard, who was also great in 1991’s “The Commitments”) meets a Czech flower seller (Markéta Irglová), they set out to write and record an album together. But despite their obvious chemistry and their musical connection (the film’s signature ballad, “Falling Slowly,” won best original song at the Academy Awards), the two keep things platonic. Carney went on to make similarly endearing Irish films like “Sing Street” (2016) and “Flora and Son” (2023).

Try saying: “That’s it. Perfect. Brilliant. So, do you want to give it a spin?”

Where to watch: Available to rent on Prime Video

“Brooklyn” (2015)

Based on Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel, John Crowley and Nick Hornby’s 1950s-set romance (a co-production with Canada and the U.K.) focuses on demure Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) as she struggles to choose between two men (Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson) and the lives they offer her on two separate continents. During her most homesick moment, a Brooklyn waiter tells her, “I hope that when I go through the pearly gates, the first sound I hear is you asking me for the bill in that lovely Irish brogue.” But amid all the drama, Eilis stays true to herself.

Try saying: “Try to remember that sometimes it’s nice to talk to people who don’t know your auntie. Just every now and again.”

Where to watch: Streaming on Max

“Belfast” (2021)

Writer-director Kenneth Branagh based this Oscar-winning coming-of-age film on his own upbringing in Northern Ireland. Against the backdrop of conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in the late 1960s, movie-obsessed 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill) begins to open his eyes to the larger world around him. While he receives comfort from his starry-eyed grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench), his parents (Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan) give him a dose of reality.

Try saying: “But, them curries. I tried it once—I had to wear a nappy for a week.” 

Where to watch: Amazon Freevee