Top 8 most heinous Oirish stereotypes in TV and film
In honour of Paddy's Day...
Published 17/03/2016 | 00:00
Well sher ‘tis the ould national day again be the hokey, God bless us an’ save us an’ tankin’ yew yer honour. Be the hokey.
Sorry, I know that’s annoying, but I’m just trying to “set the scene”, as it were. To mark the 2016 St Patrick’s Day, let’s deconstruct the worst/most hilarious “Oirish” stereotypes we’ve seen on screen.
Telly and, especially, Hollywood movies haven’t been terribly kind to Ireland. They’ve made a lot of great stuff about Irish-America, yes, but the home country suffers some serious injustices of a stereotypical nature. And even in plausible/decent films and shows set across the Atlantic, they just can’t seem to get the bloody accent right.
(I appreciate that the average Irish person sounds, to a foreigner, essentially like this: “Apsha-apsha-apsha-sha-sha-sha-apsha-aaahh.” But that’s why God invented accent coaches.)
Before we begin, a brief disclaimer: this article is all a bit of fun, we’re not genuinely offended by any of this nonsense, we do have a sense of humour about ourselves. Nothing worse than those pinched-mouth “how DARE the British/Americans/Martians laugh at us and/or claim one of ours as one of theirs and/or get the slightest bit of information about Ireland wrong.”
Anyway: ‘tis on wit’ de show we’ll be getting’ now. Eh, begorrah and bejaypers.
John C Reilly’s accent in Gangs of New York
In fairness, several of the accents in this otherwise-tremendous movie were dodgy – and why did Leonardo DiCaprio’s American-born-and-raised Amsterdam speak with an Irish brogue, anyway? – but Reilly’s took the proverbial Marietta. I still come out in a hot sweat when I think of “Oi wuz aahnly troyin’ ta scaahr ya biy”. And the guy’s name is Reilly! His people are probably all from Cavan! No excuses.
Eastenders’ Dublin episode
In 1997 the London-based soap opera decamped to Ireland for three episodes as the Fowler and Beale families searched for their native-dwelling relatives. Cue a litany of laughably outdated stereotypes – everyone was either drunk, poor, dirty, rude, lazy, smelly, lecherous or pious; they even had farm animals wandering the streets – so hideous that the BBC apologised and the Irish ambassador to the UK complained. Leave it aaaht, yoo Cockney slaahgs!
Far and Away
To be more specific, everything about Far and Away. It wasn’t quite the worst movie ever made – Batman & Robin and The Royal Tenenbaums still co-hold that record – but it was awful, and for Irish viewers, it was beyond awful. “Yer a corker, Shannon!” Who in the history of this great race/nation/language has ever said anything even remotely approximating that?
PS I Love You
The film itself was terrible drivel, but Gerard Butler’s Oirish accent was so painful to listen to, it has been known to cause bleeding from the ears and even, in severe cases, subdural hematoma and brain death. His sin, like Reilly’s, is worse because he’s got an Irish surname. The Butlers must be spinning in their graves. Yes, all of them.
A Prayer for the Dying
Manky IRA crime drama thriller yoke, starring Mickey Rourke in his pre-plastic surgery nightmare days, i.e. when he was still young, cool, good-looking and talented. But not to the extent that he could save this absurd assemblage of clichés and stupidity.
The classic – though somewhat overrated at the same time – sitcom roped in acting legend David “Rashers off Strumpet City” Kelly to play a dodgy but twinkly-eyed and charming Irish builder. The character was actually called O’Reilly. They should have named him Spuds O’Conman and be done with it.
Julia Roberts’ accent in both Mary Reilly and Michael Collins
Julia is great. We love Julia. She’s a brilliant “star” and a pretty handy actress. Her superpowers are limited when it comes to accents, though. And Irish accents seem to be her own personal kryptonite.
Probably the most dislikeable man ever to appear on a major UK programme for an extended period (Coronation Street, 1989 to 2000), McDonald (played by Charlie Lawson) was basically a violent pub brawl in human form. No Paddywhackery stereotypes there at all, so. Incidentally, being from the North, we’re not quite sure how “Irish” the character was – did Jim consider himself British or what? – but we’ll allow it, in the spirit of cross-border co-operation.