The best of Irish TV and Movies in Canada

Happy St. Patrick’s Day’s day everyone! I wish I was celebrating with all of you in a pub somewhere drinking Guinness.

Like many Canadians, I can say that I have Irish ancestry. My maternal grandmother’s family is Irish. I grew up with my mom and her family telling us that we were Irish – that our Corkery roots were there. However, this might be a bit of a stretch. We’ve been in Canada for generations. When I went first went over to Ireland to visit in 2014 I went looking for a family crest for my mom (it’s all she’s ever wanted) and was told by the store clerk (in a store dedicated to family crests) that Corkery was not Irish. It explains why when my Grandmother went to Ireland and tried to bring back a family crest for my mom in the 70s, she brought her back an ‘O’Toole’ crest. So when I went back in 2017, you can imagine how excited I was when I found a Corkery crest in a little store in Adare in Co. Limerick. It was a huge deal to the family and my mom is very proud of it. So while a stretch, I feel a tie to the country and the people.

I found my own Irish community by volunteering at Barretstown. It was the reason for my first trip in 2014, and the reason I went back to volunteer in 2017 and in 2019. I love the people I meet at camp, the location of the camp, and I always feel like my ‘camp battery’ gets recharged by doing camp a little bit differently. It’s a fantastic organization and I’m always dreaming about my next trip over. I’m hoping to one day do a full summer week there rather than just doing the family weekends. Perhaps in 2022. I always like to add a few extra days to explore Ireland and over the years I’ve really enjoyed my time in Dublin and touring around the country (I particularly love Galway and Howth). I’m hoping to do a trip to Cork next time I do a trip over and I also really want to get up to the North. I also just want to go back and go shopping at Avoca.

A pint, my favourite lookout in Howth, and Barretstown.

The point here is that on St Patrick’s Day I always think of my friends in Ireland and start dreaming about my next trip over. Since we can’t plan a trip this year, I’ve got a viewing guide of some of the best Irish TV for you to enjoy this evening while you enjoy a pint of the black stuff.

Of the top – did you know you can watch RTÉ in Canada? Backing up – do you know what RTÉ is? Raidió Teilifís Éireann – it’s basically CBC for Ireland. The RTÉ player is basically Gem. It’s free and it’s got fantastic programming. You can watch all the following shows here.

You’ve got to start with A St. Patrick’s Festival Celebration hosted by Baz Ashmawy. Also, check out the RTÉ Virtual Parade. It’s so much fun to see everyone showing off their Irish spirit.

Then get into more into the catalog.

My favourite Irish show that I regularly watch is The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy. He’s so good at what he does and the caliber of guests is very high. It’s a fantastic late-night show that I would 100% recommend checking out.

If you want to virtually tour Ireland check out Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland or Go Outside and Play both are good Irish travel shows.

If you want a laugh, check out the stand-up special, Jarlath Regan: Notions Eleven. Be ready to google some of the references but I think you will all love this.

Other shows and docs worth checking out at include:

When Michael Met Davy, All the Ways You Wander, Owen Colgan Around the Fire, Panti Monologues, and Becoming Irish.

They are constantly uploading new stuff so well worth bookmarking that player when your sick of your usual streaming platforms.

On Netflix you have a few great options.

Rebellion is an Irish drama about the Easter Uprisings in 1916. It’s well made and is focused on women. If you don’t know much about the Easter Uprisings – it’s a defining moment in Irish history. I’d highly recommend this.

For our friends in Northern Ireland, you have to watch Derry Girls. This is a cult favourite and it is truly brilliant. It’s a show about a group of teenage girls from Derry and their wee-English-lad friend as they navigate life at an All-Girls Catholic school in Derry during the troubles. It is so much fun and will have you snorting you’ll laugh so hard. It’s a personal fav.

If you are looking for a movie, try Handsome Devil. It’s an LGBTQ+ movie set in a Boarding School that is obsessed with rugby. It looks really fun and really cute. I think this is what I’ll be watching tonight. Trailer here.

Can’t Cope Won’t Cope is a dramady from RTE, but streams on Canadian Netflix. It looks good – it’s about two young women who live together in Dublin. Could be something fun to check out.

You’ve also got Martin Scorsese’s The Departed – a classic Irish mob movie set in Boston with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson. This is more stereotypical Irish than actual Irish, but I feel like it could fit the bill tonight.

On Crave I’ve got to start out by recommending the St. Patrick’s Day special that Letterkenny did – St Perfects Day. It’s a joy. If any Irish friends are reading this – check this out because it is the perfect centre of the Irish-Canadian Venn diagram.

You’ve also got Leap Year. This is a rom-com staring Amy Adams about a woman who chases her boyfriend to Ireland to propose on Feb 29th as per “Irish tradition”. It’s fun. Totally bonkers but very fun. Check out the trailer here.

Gem has GREAT Irish content. Starting with the Oscar-nominated Brooklyn. It’s a beautiful film about an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) in Brooklyn who is deeply homesick but finds her own community here. For many of us, I feel like this is the story of our grandparents. I can imagine that my family came over from Ireland and experienced this homesickness. It’s probably why we all celebrate our Irish heritage here. They just held on to home and gave it to all of us. It’s one of my favourite movies. Check out the trailer here.

Normal People is one of the biggest TV shows to come out of Ireland in years and it’s streaming on Gem. It’s about two young people – Marianne and Connell – and follows them throughout the years as they come in and out of each other’s lives. So many of my friends RAVE about this show. The actors are fantastic and the sets are gorgeous. I’m going to crack into this on the weekend. I read the book and struggled with it, but I think that’s more because the book was a hard read (there were no quotation marks so weird to read and it was the start of the pandemic… perfect storm). Check out the trailer here.

I’d also check out Moone Boy – “A family comedy series about a young boy growing up in a chaotic and creative household in late 1980s Ireland.” It’s written by and stars Chris O’Dowd who we LOVE so you know this is going to be good.

Plus CBC Gem has lots of shows that feature Ireland, lots of docs and what not to search around.

As always let me know what you end up watching 🙂

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