We know that viewers here in Ireland are hungry to see Irish stories on screen – and the fact that Netflix have been buying up Irish films and television from our native land shows that they appeal to an international audience too. Here are five of the best Irish dramas and comedies on Netflix.
David Tynan's adaptation of Emmet Kirwan’s award-winning stage play was a big hometown hit when it was released last year. Kirwan stars as Jason, a good-natured pill-popping part-time DJ whose hedonistic path collides with that of his brother Daniel, whose own casual drug use turned serious when he became a heroin addict and disappeared. Now Daniel is clean, but he’s worried his brother’s commitment to being a 24-hour party person is getting out of control.
Set in a Dublin that’s attempting to return to normal after the outbreak and containment of a zombie-like plague, writer-director David Freyne’s scarily compelling debut film is the story of Senan (Sam Keeley), who was infected with the virus but is now one of "the cured". Released from a quarantine facility that bears a strong resemblance to Ireland’s real-life direct provision centres, Senan moves in with his sister in law Abbey, played by Ellen Page, but is haunted by the memories of the terrible things he did under the influence of the virus. His new friend Conor (a brilliantly menacing Tom Vaughn-Lawlor), however, feels like the infected have suffered enough.
By the time the second episode of Derry Girls aired back in 2018, it had already been renewed by Channel 4 for a second series. Lisa McGee’s hilarious depiction of teenage life in 1990s Derry was not only an original and insightful look at what it was like to grow up in the six counties pre-Good Friday Agreement, but one of the funniest sitcoms in years, with a fantastic cast and some truly inspired comic moments (no one who’s seen it will forget the blackboard devoted to the differences between Catholics and Protestants). Series 1 is now available on Neflix, with Season 2 due in August.
It’s perhaps surprising that there haven’t been more films and television shows set during the famine, but Lance Daly’s Black ’47 makes good use of the horrific history. Australian actor James Frecheville plays Martin Feeney, an Irish soldier in the British army who returns to his native Connemara to find his family starving and dispossessed. What follows is, in some ways, a classic revenge drama, as Feeney attempts to avenge his family and brings down the wrath of the British forces, including his former comrade Hannah, played by fellow antipodean actor Hugo Weaving. Barry Keoghan and Jim Broadbent also star.
The 1983 escape of 38 Republican prisoners from the infamous Maze prison remains the biggest prison break in Europe since World War II. Stephen Burke's thoughtful dramatization of the event has been compared to The Great Escape. It stars Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Larry Marley, a former hunger striker and the (real-life) mastermind of the escape. Barry Ward plays Gordon Close, the prison guard Marley befriends in order to gain information vital to the breakout