10 Movies About the IRA

Many of today’s most iconic movies take place in the IRA, an organization that harbors the best terrorists money can buy. In order to stop these mayhem-makers, which have a tendency to blow up a city block, it would seem like adopting any and every method is necessary.

Movies About The IRA

1. The Departed

Based on the Hong Kong police drama Infernal World, The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon as Irish-American mobsters in South Boston. One of the last movies directed by Martin Scorsese, who has a long history with mafia films, it won four Oscars including Best Picture.

2. Patriot Games

Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst/officer in this second installment based on Tom Clancy’s series of novels about CIA agent Jack Ryan. When terrorists kidnap his family and take them to London, he must race against time to stop them before they can execute their plans for revenge against him and America. Making his third appearance on the list, Harrison Ford returns.

3. The Jackal

Robert Redford stars as a hitman hired by Saddam Hussein to kill some of his rivals. Robert de Niro plays a French criminal who takes part in the assassination. The controversial film had been thought to be overly violent, but numerous critics have praised it for its realistic portrayal of violence and manipulation. It’s one of the more recent movies on this list and does not include any James Bond films due to their being no specific James Bond movies about IRA that fit this list’s criteria.

4. Ronin

A retired ex-CIA agent is hired to act as security for a man being targeted by the IRA. The would-be assassins are not doing a very good job of keeping their identities secret, however, and soon they and the retired agent’s team are fighting one another while trying to keep the man alive.

The film was originally meant to be directed by John Frankenheimer, who had previously directed “Seconds” (1966), the French film that inspired it, but his death in July 1996 meant that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was given the reins instead. It won a number of film awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

5. Breakfast on Pluto

This whimsical tale tells the story of a boy who grows up gay in Ireland in the 1970s. He then becomes an indentured sex worker in England before emigrating to America, where he is trained to become an operative within the IRA who attempts to hunt down and kill his father’s killer. It is loosely based on the novel by Patrick McCabe. The film was directed by Neil Jordan and is one of 2 films on this list that was made outside Great Britain.

6. Veronica Guerin

Actress Cate Blanchett got an Oscar-nomination for her portrayal of the Irish investigative journalist for “The Sunday Independent” who had a reputation for being an aggressive reporter. Her interest in exposing drugs gangs led to her murder by drug dealers in 1996 and the film deals with both her life and work. It was directed by Joel Schumacher, whose other movies have included “Batman Forever” (1995), “Falling Down” (1993), and “8mm” (1999).

7. Five Minutes of Heaven

This drama based on a true story is set in 1971 when IRA members shoot a man they suspect of being a British informant. The IRA takes the man’s wife and young son hostage, holding them for a few days, demanding that a British Army officer named Larkin (Sean Bean) come to the remote countryside estate where they are being held. When Larkin does appear, he is told that if he releases the hostages, his family will not be harmed. He does so, but when it’s time for him to leave and his family is still in danger, he becomes determined to save them himself.

8. Fifty Dead Men Walking

This adaptation of John le Carré’s novel is set during a period of time when there was increased tension between Britain and Ireland due to allegations of espionage on both sides. It tells the story of Martin McGartland, a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who becomes an informant for MI5 in the 1980s. The movie is based on McGartland’s book and was directed by Kari Skogland, who has previously directed “Jindabyne” (2006).

9. Mother of the Bride

Set in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1970, this movie is a comedy about two sisters and their mother (Brenda Blethyn). The eldest sister has just become engaged to be married, and things don’t go very well when her fiance’s family visits to meet the family. The mother of the bride ends up doing some unexpected cleaning to get the house ready and they decide to throw a party, which results in an unexpected turn of events.

10. I See a Dark Stranger

Made in 1946, this romantic comedy drama is set in Dublin and features two stars from “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), James Stewart and Donna Reed. Stewart plays an American with Irish ancestors who travels to Ireland looking for adventure when he takes his father’s place as the landlord of an inn. There he meets and falls in love with a mysterious woman (Reed) who is believed to be a witch. When local court officials become suspicious of her, Stewart finds himself involved in her trials as danger and romance threaten to change their lives.


Those reading this list of movies about IRA should be aware that some people may find certain films too violent for them and question the value of showing movie violence to those watching on the screen. Yet, if it can help people better understand a situation, it might be worth including on such a list. Some films, however, may not even deal with Irish terrorism but rather religious conflicts or other types of terrorism.

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