After having your little ones search for leprechauns around the house and then eat a delicious plate of corned beef and cabbage, you’ll probably want to sit back and relax with one of the many Irish movies to watch with your family on St. Patrick’s Day. Between the music, parades, food, and stories, there are loads of ways to celebrate Irish culture. But if you’re looking for a relaxing option, these movies have got you covered.
You could flip on
Leap Year, a super cute romantic comedy starring Amy Adams whose character travels all the way to Ireland just to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day. Or the 2021 Golden Globe nominated animated film Wolfwalkers, which combines Irish history and folklore to tell a fantastical story about a young girl in 1650s Ireland . Or travel back to your youth and watch the Disney Channel’s The Luck of the Irish and introduce your kids to Kyle Johnson as he tracks down the evil leprechaun controlling his family.
No matter if they're set in Ireland or tell stories of Irish folklore, these movies have Irish ties that will be perfect to watch on St. Patrick's Day.
Darby O'Gill and the Little People
old storyteller named Darby O'Gill goes on an adventure to find a pot of gold in this Disney film from 1959. O’Gill just got fired in this film and is on his way home when he just happens to slip through a portal to the land of the little people. He meets the leprechaun king and accidentally brings him home with him, asks him for three wishes, and finds out that the leprechaun king is a bit of a mischief maker. This movie also stars a dashing young Sean Connery, who happened to take over O’Gill’s job and got the whole thing going in the first place. Watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People, rated 6+ on Disney+. Angela's Christmas
Set in Ireland in the 1910s,
Angela's Christmas is a heartwarming story about the power of family at Christmastime. The movie is based on the Frank McCourt children’s book , and just like his book Angela’s Ashes, McCourt recounts an event that happened to his mother. When she was just a little girl in Limerick, Ireland, it seems Angela worried about the baby Jesus being left in his cradle and decided she needed to help protect him. The movie is sweet and kind and full of Irish charm, exactly what you want to watch for the holidays. Angela and the Baby Jesus Watch Angela's Christmas, rated ALL, on Netflix. Angela's Christmas Wish
With Angela's father working in Australia during the holidays, she comes up with a plan to reunite her family in this
follow-up film to Angela's Christma s. This time around, Angela and her brother are trying to raise money by singing in the local pub to get the family back together for Christmas. They don’t even want expensive gifts or anything, which is one of the enduring themes of McCourt’s work; how little value material goods actually have in comparison to family. Plus the whole setting of the movie, Ireland at the turn of the century, who doesn’t want to lose themselves in that time period? Watch Angela's Christmas Wish, rated ALL, on Netflix. Finians' Rainbow
Fred Astaire stars in this 1969 movie musical about an Irish man who moves to a small town with a stolen pot of gold with him. Now let’s get real here; Fred Astaire is not, in fact, a native Irish man. So when you sit down to watch
Finian’s Rainbow be prepared for some questionable accents and, of course, it’s important to remember the movie was made in a different time. That being said, this movie is charming and full of good humor if you suspend your disbelief a little. Francis Ford Coppola did direct this movie, after all. And Roger Ebert called it “enchanting,” so that’s something. Watch Finian's Rainbow, rated G, on YouTube Movies for $1.99. Forest Fairies
A young girl stumbles across a hidden village of fairies that help her stop an evil land developer from taking over her family's country inn. If you love horses you will
especially love , since it’s Amanda’s horse Tanner who leads her to the hidden village of fairies. The big job at hand is getting Amanda’s mom to believe in love and laughter and yes, even fairies. Apparently she’s had a bit of a time of it and she’s feeling disheartened, so why not bring in some magical fairies to help her believe in all of the best parts of life again? Forest Fairies Watch Forest Fairies, rated ALL, on Amazon Prime Video. The Isle of Man: From The Air
Learn about the beautiful island, the Isle of Man, which sits in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland in this stunning documentary. If you really want to feel like you’re visiting Ireland without all of that air fare and saving up money and hotels and such, this is a great way for you and the family to feel like you’re really there.
The Isle of Man: From The Air documentary gives a breathtaking view of the island via drone footage and really gives a sense of the scope of what life looks like there. The cliffs, the windmills, the towns, all of it. Watch The Isle of Man: From The Air, rated 7+, on Amazon Prime Video. Leap Year
Amy Adams stars in this romantic comedy about a woman who goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day. Adam Scott plays Adams’ boyfriend in
Leap Year from 2010, a romantic comedy Common Sense Media refers to as “tame but unimaginative.” Some might argue that Amy Adams meeting up with local inn owner played by Matthew Goode is quite charming. Especially as she continuously finds herself stuck on the backroads of gorgeous Ireland trying to get to her boyfriend so she can propose. Problematic, outdated ideals of romance? Absolutely. Fun and distracting in a mindless sort of way? Definitely. Watch Leap Year, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Video. The Legend of Longwood
In this 2014 film, a young girl moves from New York to Ireland, where she finds she has a link to a mysterious creature. And those mysterious creatures are actually horses. This is the dream for every kid, or at least every horse-loving kid. Although you might want to watch this one with older kids since it’s a bit dark and spooky, particularly with that mysterious black knight who is wandering around the countryside and generally being a nuisance for 300 years or so. But it’s a fun, escapist adventure for kids who really understand make-believe and love a good horse adventure.
Watch The Legend of Longwood, rated PG, on YouTube Movies. Living the Journey: An Enchanting Journey into Old Irish Airs
Learn about Irish music from the people who play it in this 2017 documentary.
Living the Journey: An Enchanting Journey into Old Irish Airs really taps into that good old Irish love of music. This documentary sees cello player and composer Ilse de Ziah travel around the country in an effort to seek out Irish musicians, scholars, and some interesting locals to discuss and discover the importance of Irish music. While kids might like this documentary for a few moments, this is really meant for people who want to immerse themselves in classical music and Irish culture. So probably not for your toddler then. Watch Living the Journey: An Enchanting Journey into Old Irish Airs, rated ALL, on Amazon Prime. The Luck of the Irish
When a young man loses his lucky charm, he learns that he is actually part leprechaun in this Disney Channel Original Film from 2001. Again, this is one of those movies with
“problematic stereotypes” per Common Sense Media, so be aware when you’re watching with your kids that you might need to explain a thing or two. Things like super over-the-top accents, a lot of presumptions about Irish culture that do not really hold up, and of course the whole message of being culturally diverse rather gets lost in the fact that Luck Of The Irish is a movie full of white people. Still, it’s a bit of good fun for the family and mostly means well. Watch Luck of the Irish, rated 6+, on Disney+. The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns
A burnt out businessman spends his holiday in Ireland, where he is introduced to the magical world of faeries and leprechauns in this two part TV mini-series from 1999.
is truly in a class all its own; a Hallmark two-part miniseries about a stressed out businessman who needs to kick back and relax with leprechauns and fairies? This is a very specific kind of movie that probably won’t be a re-watch, but admit it; doesn’t the concept intrigue you? A rainy Sunday afternoon, nothing to do, and this is exactly the kind of thing you’re going to want to watch. Also please note that both Randy Quaid and Whoopi Goldberg are in this gem. The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Watch The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns, not rated , on Tubi TV. Once
Two kindred spirits and struggling musicians find each other on the streets of Dublin in this 2007 romantic musical drama. It's important to note that this film is
rated R due to explicit language, but according to Common Sense Media, the positive messages about love and emotional connection outweigh any iffiness. The music in this film is like nothing else you’ll have heard; in fact, the original song “Falling Slowly” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year. For anyone who has ever wanted to visit Ireland Rent Once, rated R, for $3.99 on YouTube Movies. The Secret of Kells
Celtic mythology comes to life in this animated film from 2010.
The Secret Of Kells was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film the year it came out, and no wonder. This is one of those movies that won’t remind you of anything else. It is heavily steeped in genuine Irish folklore so beware of some darker themes for young kids. There are barbarians pillaging towns and terrorizing people, even killing them with axes as they go. But this movie is a real, genuine lesson in traditional Irish folklore that might be hard to come by otherwise. What with all of the stories of silly leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow being so popular in movies. Rent The Secret of Kells on Amazon Prime, rated ALL, for $2.99. The Secret of Roan Inish
A young girl named Fiona unravels the mysterious
secrets of her small fishing village in this film from 1994 based on the 1957 novel Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry. The entire story revolves around selkies, seal-like creatures in Irish and Orcadian folklore who can shed their skin at will. In The Secret of Roan Inish, Fiona believes she has discovered a secret; that her long-missing baby brother is actually alive and living by the sea. This movie is full of a sort of foggy, green mysticism that really dives into the old magic of Irish culture that makes us want to move to the island ourselves. Watch The Secret of Roan Inish, rated PG, on YouTube Movies. Sing Street
Conor is moved from his private school to a tough, inner-city alternative in Dublin, he decides to start a band as a way to adjust to his new life. Sing Street takes place in the ‘80s, when Ireland was hit hard by the recession and lives were changed all over the country. Perhaps especially Dublin. Conor is dealing with his parents’ stress and unhappiness, bullying by the headmaster at his school, and the difficult lives most of his friends in his new life are living. But through his band, he finds a way to channel his energy into something good. Music and hardship and Dublin. You don’t get much more Irish than that. Watch Sing Street, rated 14+, on Tubi TV. Song of the Sea
A young girl escapes from home to free mythical creatures trapped in the modern world in the 2014 animated film
, nominated for an Academy Award. Selkies appear again in this movie, where a 10-year-old boy named Ben discovers his sister Saoirse is a selkie. She cannot speak, and she must find her voice if she wants to free those mythical creatures from the horrible powers of a Celtic goddess. This is another Irish movie where spirits and mythical creatures take center stage, but really this movie is about a young girl finding her voice. So it manages to tick the feminist box and the Irish box at the same time. Song of the Sea Rent Song of the Sea, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99. Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village
Learn about a small Irish village and its residents who believe in miracles in this 2016 documentary. The village of Knock is the setting for the documentary
, where the villagers claim they once saw an “apparition” or a holy event and now the Archdiocese of New York has decided to make the village a particular pilgrimage for its parishioners. And the people of Knock are preparing to welcome true believers with open arms in their own distinctly Irish way. The documentary is full of sweet, small town charm and manages to be funny without poking fun at anyone, a rare Irish gift. Strange Occurrences in a small Irish Village Watch Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village, rated PG, on Amazon Prime. Waking Ned Divine (PG) Waking Ned Devine sees the lives of the people living in an Irish town are transformed when a dead man wins a lottery ticket. Ned Devine wins the lottery one night in the small Irish village of Tullymore, he sadly also meets his end that very same night. Which leaves best friends Jackie O’Shea and Michael O’Sullivan in a bind; they visited Devine hoping he might feel like sharing the wealth when they find him dead. The two decide to split the winnings, but one of them has to pretend to be Ned to win. Another charming movie, and not to give you any spoilers but it has a genuinely satisfying ending for the whole village. Well except for Ned Devine himself. Watch Waking Ned Divine, rated PG, on Hulu. War of the Buttons
Two warring factions of children set to fighting over each other’s buttons in the bizarrely fascinating movie
There are two children’s gangs, if you can believe it, from the towns of Ballydowse and Carrickdowse. And over the course of about a dozen skirmishes, where they fight with literal sticks and stones, they figure out who will be the winners and who will be the losers. What sets them apart? Winners get to brag about taking the other gangs’ buttons, which they snip off of their clothes and send them home looking a bit foolish. It’s a bit weird because sometimes there are 30 naked boys fighting, but charming in its own way. War of the Buttons. Watch War of the Buttons, rated PG, on YouTube Movies. Wolfwalkers
A young apprentice and her father journey to Ireland where they befriend a free-spirited girl from a
mysterious tribe in Wolfwalkers , an animated film nominated for a 2021 Golden Globe. Wolfwalkers takes place in a time when Ireland is ruled by superstition and magic. Wolves are considered evil, and nature in general is not to be trusted. So when a young apprentice hunter named Robyn heads to the forest with her father to wipe out the last of the wolves, she sees herself as a hero. Until she meets a wild girl who introduces her to the life of the Wolfwalkers and suddenly, she finds herself transformed into a wolf even as her father continues to hunt for animals just like her. Watch Wolfwalkers, rated PG , on Apple TV+. What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
This article was originally published on
March 10, 2021