I come from a proud family of Cleveland Irish Catholics, and of course St. Patrick’s Day is always a time of celebration. Ever since I was a kid, one of our favorite traditions has been to come together to enjoy a good, Irish-themed film on March 17th. We enjoy a nice corned beef and cabbage dinner (not traditional Irish fare, but that’s a story for another time!) and then settle down with a good movie. The titles on this list are all ones that we enjoy picking up again and again every March, and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People was one of my favorite films as a child. I remember watching this Disney classic every year and thinking it was simply the best that live-action cinema had to offer. I’m older now, but I still find myself coming back to this one again and again. It’s a little corny at times, but it just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without this fun family tradition. Darby is an aging groundskeeper who spends more and more of his time chasing leprechauns (specifically their leader, King Brian) and bragging about his exploits at the pub than he does doing actual work. When his employer hires in a young man to replace him, Darby asks for both of them to keep this a secret from his daughter, Katie, and then turns to his old nemesis, King Brian, for help. This is a really charming film for viewers of all ages, plus it features a rather young Sean Connery!
Only the Lonely is the story of Danny Muldoon, who is thirty-eight years old and still single. Despite being well-liked by the community, this Chicago cop has a hard time finding love, thanks to his domineering Irish mother. One night at a bar, Danny meets Theresa Luna, a shy but sweet Italian American girl, and daughter to the local funeral director. Theresa and Danny fall in love, but things are made increasingly complicated when Danny’s friends (and especially his mother) voice their loud opinions against a good Irishman falling in love with an Italian. To make matters worse, the big-hearted Danny spends so much of his time worrying about his mother, he’s not even sure that he could be a good boyfriend to Theresa, even without the opposition of his friends. Will true love prevail or will this relationship be doomed to fail?
I talked briefly about The Quiet Man in my blog post about John Wayne Films, but this classic is so good, we’ll have to talk about it twice! Sean Thornton was a boxer in America who retires to his hometown in Ireland where he buys a piece of property and resolves to live a quiet life. But, in purchasing the property, he incites the ire of his neighbor “Red” Will Danaher, who had his eyes on that land as well. Meanwhile, Sean falls in love with Danaher’s fiery sister, Mary Kate. However, it looks like the love might be over before it started, as Sean needs Danaher’s permission in order to court his sister. A culture clash between Sean’s modern sensibilities and Mary Kate’s traditional ones, plus a secret from Sean’s past coming to light, also threaten the budding romance. But, the people of the rural village have come to love Sean and will do whatever they have to do in order to help him win the girl.
After the events of WWII, young Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in their small fishing village in Donegal. While adjusting to her new life, she learns much of the local customs and legends, including tales of the Selkie, seals that can turn into humans by discarding their skin. According to the locals, the story goes that one of Fiona’s ancestors had married a Selkie, and that there is something special in the family’s blood. Fiona begins to suspect that the legend of the Selkie might have something to do with the tragic loss of her baby brother, whose cradle was swept out to sea years ago. When Fiona catches sight of a little boy running around on the abandoned island of Roan Inish, she becomes fixated on proving that the boy is her brother, who is being raised by the seals that inhabit the island. The Secret of Roan Inish is a beautiful film for the whole family.
In order to win his reelection campaign, Senator John McGlory realizes that the best way to secure extra votes in his heavily Irish-American district is to plan a publicity photo-shoot with some relatives back in Ireland. The only problem is that Senator McGlory has no idea about his background or his family connections. So, he sends his assistant, Marcy Tizard to Ireland to track down the remaining McGlories that are still living in Ireland. Marcy is not happy about the assignment, and only becomes more embittered when she realizes that the small Irish town she’s been sent to is also the site of the annual matchmaking festival. Being young, attractive, and most importantly, single, her new Irish connections keep trying to rope Marcy into joining the fun, but she wants nothing to do with it. But, the more she protests, the more attention she gains, and soon catches the eye of quite a few eligible bachelors around the area. Dermot, the head matchmaker, thinks that Marcy would make a perfect pairing with Sean, a former journalist who has taken a shine to her, and plots to find a way to bring these reluctant lovebirds together, whether Marcy likes it or not. The Matchmaker is a big-hearted romantic comedy and quite a lot of fun.