This is the week  everyone will be wearing green in the spirit of the Irish. Those who are not better be good at avoiding the dreaded pinch.

I cannot claim any Irish in my heritage. While the rosacea on my face claims differently, all I am aware of is a strong English bent. When your great-great grandfather is named Proctor, it is pretty certain you have English blood.

In recent years though, Irish cinema has really made some breakthroughs. This past Oscar season saw The Secret of the Kells make it into the Best Animation category. The story is about a young boy who discovers the magic an illuminator can have when it comes to the written word back in the middle ages. The knowledge he carries through the forest is threatened by the barbarians who are chasing him.

With Brendan Gleeson doing voice work as the stern abbot, it is a fantastical story with wonderful animation. At this time the movie is back in the theaters and is scheduled to be released on DVD sometime in August.

Another Irish movie that was given Oscar acclaim is Once (2006). It stars virtual unknowns Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as two musicians who meet, write music together, record a CD and fall in love in one week’s time. The constant movement of the camera might make you a little queasy but it is worth it for the fully realized soundtrack. Plus these are characters you want to get to know.  It is better suited for adults than kids under the age of 13.

One of my favorite Irish movies of all time is The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). Directed by John Sayles, this is the story of a girl who lives with her grandparents after the death of her mother and loss of her brother. The family had to move off of their island and 10-year-old Fiona wants to know more. Slowly she finds out the history of their family and why her brother might have been taken, not simply lost at sea. This is a family friendly movie that can be slow moving but worth the outcome.

One movie that many people associate with Ireland is The Quiet Man (1952) starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It tells the story of an American boxer who moves back to his family hometown in Ireland. He meets Maureen and they fall in love. But her brother gets into a snoot fit and will not release her dowry money.

The last 15 minutes of the movie features an epic fight between Wayne and Victor McLagen as they go across the countryside and make stops in the pubs for a pint or two.  Is it family friendly? Yes, it is. And then the family can go explore Wayne, O’Hara and director John Ford on the internet.

My last suggestion is another family friendly flick call Into the West (1992).  This movie stars Gabriel Byrne as a widower with two boys to raise. They are travelers who live in the slums of Dublin. Byrne is more interested in drinking to forget his late wife. But then the boys’ grandfather finds a white stallion who can only seem to be controlled by the younger boy and they keep the horse in their apartment.

All sorts of things that can go wrong do, including the police and a wealthy industrialist colluding to get the magnificent beast. The boys end up stealing their horse back and traveling across the country. It is a grand adventure as the dad tries to get back to his boys while they manage to hide from the police. For those people who cry easily, this movie will get you going.

I know there are others that people like but I might have missed.  Write in the comment section what is a great movie, set and made in Ireland, that I did not write about.

Until next week, see you in the movie aisle.

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