March 15, 2023
More than 1 million Irish Americans live in the Philadelphia metro area, making it the second-most "Irish" city in the U.S., after New York. This Friday, some of those Irish Americans will descend on bars and homes across the city to drink pints and swap shamrock necklaces.
But Ireland is naturally much more than leprechaun lore. If you're Irish and want to dig into your roots — or someone who just wishes to learn a little more about the Emerald Isle — these four documentaries are a good place to start. They cover everything from IRA protests to drag queens, pop stars to the true star of the country: pubs.
Ireland is famous for its drinking culture, and this cozy 2013 documentary makes the case for the pub as the center of community — a place where neighbors share their troubles, local musicians perform and marriages once were brokered between families. The movie visits multiple centuries-old pubs across the country, interviewing the proprietors about their odd hours, favorite patrons and side hustles as grocers and undertakers.
Runtime: 74 minutes Available on: Prime, Peacock, Pluto TV
Sinead O'Connor was once one of Ireland's most famous exports, ruling the Billboard Hot 100 for a month in 1990 with "Nothing Compares 2 U." But that all came crashing down after a controversial 1992 performance on "Saturday Night Live," during which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II in protest of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. This 2022 film follows her life and career prior to and through that point, touching on her difficult teen years in a Magdalene Laundry. Irish families sent their troublesome or pregnant daughters to these notorious institutions — where they washed clothes, unpaid, under the eyes of nuns — up until 1996, when the last one closed for good.
Runtime: 97 minutes Available on: Showtime