From semtex to shamrocks to talking spuds, the Emerald Isle has always been well represented on the big screen, though maybe not best served when it comes to our (apparently) tricky accents. To be sure, to be sure if there is one thing da stars can’t seem to get right it’s the 'aul Irish brogue.
As we head towards St Patricks Day, we take a look back at the worst and best of Oirish accents on the silver screen. Begosh and, indeed, begorrah!
The Worst . . .
Tom Cruise in Far and Away
Sweet holy Jaysus. Just just . . . this tale of two Irish immigrants seeking their fortune in 1890s America was a pile-up at Oirish cliché central. In fact, it might have been created by those cute hoors in Bord Failte to coax dewy-eyed yanks over to the Emerald Isle with their lovely crinkly green backs. Tom was always going to be cruising for a bruising as local lad done good in the New World but boy, that accent was as broad as the Shannon ("You're a corker etc...) but in no way as majestic. And no Tom, we don’t like your feckin' hat.
Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill and The Little People
“The name is McBride, Michael McBride . . . “ cue fiddles, bodhrans and leaping Leprechauns. Way back in 1958, former coffin polisher and future secret agent Sean Connery tried his hand at playing the Gael in this Disney romp. He’s Scottish, right? A fellow Celt should have at least have been pretty handy at the Irish burr? But no, Sean’s got a licence to ill treat the old Irish accent here.
Gerard Butler in PS I Love You
Kiss me arse indeed! Just when you thought this slice of sentimentality from the maven of make believe Cecelia Ahern couldn’t get any cheesier, Gerard Butler rears his potato head to purée our proud Irish bark. Strange, really as Gerard is another Scot who might have been expected to have a decently burnished brogue? To be fair, he later apologised for mangling our murmur.
Kevin Spacey In Ordinary Decent Criminal
Kevin Spacey - He is President Frank Underwood, he was Verbal in The Usual Suspects, he re-energised the Old Vic in London, they even gave him two Oscars. . . yup, the man is a pretty amazing actor but nailing the accent of a Dublin criminal escaped him in Thaddeus O'Sullivan’s wayward Ordinary Decent Criminal. Spacey seems to take a 32-county tour of our dear old isle but still manages to go full blown American every few minutes.
Brad Pitt in The Devil’s Own
Brad goes rogue with a brogue as an IRA bomber in this thriller. He plays Francis “Frankie” McGuire - he's an IRA man on the lam who actually finds shelter in the home of New York city cop Tom O’Meara (Harrison Ford). The movie plays fast and loose with the facts of the Northern Irish conflict and while our Brad in't quite the pits (geddit!!!?) when it comes to playing a bold Belfast boy, does he lay it on thack, sorry, thick. If anything his 'pikey' accent in Snatch was waaaaaaay more understandable.
Matt Damon in The Great Wall
What's going on here? Anyone? A recent addition to the charts, Damon's role in this big-budget flop left Irish people scratching their heads after his character William seemed to sound Irish. Then again he also sounded Scottish. Or in the midst of a stroke. The nationality is never disclosed so maybe Damon could blame his lame attempt on the script. But seriously, he grew up outside Boston - he should surely be able to pull off an Irish brogue. Thankfully few people saw the movie, so at least that's something.
. . . and The Best
Alan Rickman in Michael Collins
One of the most beloved actors of his generation, he sadly passed away last year. For Irish audiences he will best be remembered for his turn as Dev in Neil Jordan’s historically wonky but hugely enjoyable drama about Ireland’s Greatest Hero. Rickman’s every weary word as Dev sounded like a withered wreath and he also turned in an excellent performance as the cartoon villain of the piece (fine by us). We reckon Julia Roberts as Mick’s girl Kitty Kiernan was looking on taking notes (the less said about her 'accent' the better).
Cate Blanchett in Veronica Guerin
Well, it is Cate Blanchett, one of the finest actors working today. Her portrayal of crusading crime journalist Veronica Guerin is nothing short of enthralling and her northside Dublin accent has the stamp of verite and authority. Bualadh bos!
Kate Hudson in About Adam
We journey to the other side of the river Liffey for Kate Hudson’s role as Lucy Owen, a thoroughbred suburbanite on the hunt for Mr Right in Gerard Stembridge's enjoyable romantic comedy. Kate cuts it in a movie largely made up of native Dubs and it makes her portrayal all the more impressive.
Will Poulter in Glassland
The award winning Glassland not only proved that 23-year-old Londoner Will Poulter is not only one of the most promising young actors in the world (step forward his turn in The Revenant) but he can also `do' accents including an uncanny Dublin brogue. If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to check it out. Honourable mention also goes to the divine Toni Collette who stars as a Dublin mother struggling with addiction.
Julie Walters in Brooklyn
Hats off to Julie Walters for her turn as the no-nonsense Irish boarding-house keeper, Mrs Keogh in the Oscar nominated Brooklyn. Sure isn't her Mammy only from Mayo and it definitely shows. Her accent was absolutely spot on. Rumour has it that a TV spin-off featuring Julie's character is being considered. We're just full of giddiness at the thoughts (apologies Mrs Keogh).
Judi Dench in Philomena
Another fine English actress who captured an Irish accent to perfection in this heart-breaking but incredibly warm movie. Once again there's an Irish Mammy to thank (Judi's Mam was born in Dublin) but the Oscar winner did an incomparable job bringing the real-life Philomena Lee to the big screen and perfectly captured her stoicism and determination. As the kids say, her accent is well dench!
Alan Corr/John O'Driscoll