5 Irish-Themed Movies that Can Make Guys Cry

DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

“Irish themed Movies”

Thursday marks St Patrick’s Day, or as America likes to call it “Green Beer Day.” True, the meaning of St Paddy’s Day has been somewhat boiled down to pouring green food coloring into the local river and then getting so drunk that you fall into said river, but the Irish culture is far more rich than that. Thanks to their practically building America from the ground up, we’ve all got a little Irish in us (Leprechaun pun not intended….or is it?). Film is no different, and there are thick veins of Irish pride in some of our most beloved cinema. Sometimes a character is Irish, sometimes the film’s setting is intrinsically Irish, and sometimes a Leprechaun tries to murder Rachel from Friends. Full disclosure, the Leprechaun series is not on the following list. Second full disclosure, my Irish wife helped me try to navigate this list without being racist:

1.The Boondock Saints

Proof that Daryl from The Walking Dead was always a badass, this 1999 indie resides on every single movie library shelf of a generation. Touching on several themes held dear by the Irish community such as Catholicism and devotion to family, this film would fit right in with modern realistic vigilante films such as Super and Kick-Ass. Two brothers kill a mobster in self-defense and when they realize not only won’t they get in trouble but the community regards them as heroes, they find their purpose in life. What ensues is two guys killing baddies while Willem Defoe chews every single inch of every single scene he’s in. It’s amazing, and with a budget of around $7 million, everything is lean and deliberate.

Much like in The Walking Dead, Daryl is going to make it out alive (for now). Unfortunately not the same can be said for his friend Rocco. It’s tough to realize you are a side character in someone else’s hero movie, but Rocco first loses his finger, gets the stump cauterized, and then gets killed. You think after losing his finger the film would allow him to survive, so when he dies it’s a shock, and when the other two say their family prayer for Rocco, it’s touching. Just don’t watch that sequel, it’s garbage.

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2. Waking Ned Devine

A film set in Ireland, this is one of those movies like The Full Monty that just makes you smile every time you watch it. A tiny Irish village bands together to fool a lottery inspector when it’s revealed the true winner died after purchasing the ticket. With few exceptions everyone’s on board with the ruse, and most of the comedy comes from trying to fool the inspector into thinking Ned Devine is still living. The landscapes are beautiful, filmed on the Island of Man, and the plot of a pig farmer wanting his share so he can marry his love is sweet. Plus an old naked man drives across an Irish village on a motorcycle so it’s all aces for this movie.

Really with a movie this sweet, you don’t have to be ashamed to tear up a bit. The ending where the pig farmer’s love interest reveals she could claim the entire fortune rightfully but would rather the pig farmer join her family is touching. Also old naked Irish man on a motorcycle!

3. Philomena

From sweet to sour (but still sweet), we have this movie. Steve Coogan, best known as the in-movie director of Tropic Thunder, is a writer that pairs up with an elderly woman to find her child. The child was taken away from her at a very young age by nuns at a convent she worked at, and the journey to find this child spans from Ireland to America and back again. Based on a true story, we learn about the unfortunate practice of the Catholic church in Ireland (back then) of selling babies to American couples. Heavy stuff for sure, but the film handles it with a light touch and grace that makes it highly watchable. I’d label it as a comedic roadtrip movie, but with subtext of what it means to be a good Christian.

The movie does a great job making you hate a particular group of nuns that basically stole a baby and then lied to that baby as an adult so he died without reconnecting with his mother. Despite all of that, Philomena forgives this nun and we, much like Coogan, are astonished at this feat of compassion. It’s a touching moment, but you definitely bristle for a few hours after the film is over.

4. Blown Away

I feel like this film just came out a few years ago, but according to the “facts” it was released in 1994. Boo to time passing. Anyways, in one corner you have an Irish terrorist Tommy Lee Jones, and in the other corner you have a bomb diffuser who used to be an Irish terrorist but changed his name and diffuses bombs to atone for the lives he’s taken. Tommy “Agent K” Lee Jones tries to blow up everything the ex-terrorist Jeff Bridges loves, because one of the lives Jeff took was Tommy’s girlfriend. A great thriller and suspenseful through the end, I highly recommend a watch.

Of all the deaths Tommy caused in this film, the only one he cries, prays, and feels remorse for is Jeff’s uncle Max. Tommy rigged Max up with a bomb and though Jeff got there in time, Max triggered the bomb early to avoid the chance that Jeff would fail and be taken down with him. Amongst religious music and symbolism, we see Tommy Lee Jones truly remorseful that he’s taken an innocent life for no reason. Shed a tear with Tommy, won’t you?

5. In the Name of the Father

How more Irish can you get than this movie? There’s a Sinead O’Connor song in the soundtrack for heaven’s sake! Daniel Day-Lewis plays a man who was sent to London to avoid the riots in Ireland, but then is wrongly convicted of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings. He tries to pursue justice while in prison along with several others also wrongly imprisoned, and eventually evidence hidden by the police is revealed leading to a dramatic court scene and his release. Unfortunately the lying police were acquitted of any wrongdoing, but this film makes sure they don’t get away unscathed.

The sad part is that Lewis’ father dies while in custody. The father who sent his son to London for safety, the father who then flew to London from Ireland to help defend his boy and was arrested in his home, the father who clearly did nothing wrong and was proven innocent at the end of the film, died while in custody. Sure, it was a catalyst moment that lead to the eventual triumph of the truth, but it was still heartbreaking.

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Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.