It’s been dubbed a crime against accents that has us cringing like our Gallic counterparts did at Emily in Paris.
With more clichés than you can shake a Shillelagh at, the new trailer for Wild Mountain Thyme, starring Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt and filmed in Mayo, instantly went viral this week – for all the wrong reasons.
This new rom-com from Oscar-winning writer John Patrick Shanley of Moonstruck fame left nobody swooning at the litany of corny clichés, implausible scenarios and most of all, those bruisingly-bad Irish brogues.
While Blunt’s attempt at an Irish accent left quite a lot to be desired, former underwear model Dornan was deemed to be the worst offender, given that he actually comes from Holywood, Co Down.
Award-winning director Jim Sheridan even took to RTÉ’s Liveline to add his tuppence-worth on it and he called it “fake Irish”.
“I just saw a bit of the trailer; the voice-over is terrible. It’s just John Patrick Shanley from New York trying to be Irish. Is that such a big crime? I don’t know,” he said.
However, not everyone is unimpressed. A top voice coach has come to the defence of Dornan and said it can be harder for natives of Northern Ireland to pull off a convincing southern accent.
Voice and dialect coach Russell Smith of the Gaiety School of Acting told the Irish Independent that there is “more of a stretch for someone from the north to do it”.
“There’s a very big difference because all of the southern accents, even though there’s a huge range, they’ve all got something in common but that changes once you go north,” he said.
“I think the southern accent is hard because there’s so many versions of it.”
But when it comes to big-budget projects featuring Irish characters, we have been subjected to a litany of dodgy dialects.
Top of the ‘worst accent’ list has to be Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman in the 19th century drama Far and Away.
Who can forget the Hollywood star and his mega-watt smile delivering the immortal line “You’re a corker, Shannon”, in the 1992 corn-fest.
Julia Roberts was a double offender in Michael Collins and Mary Reilly, with an awful Irish accent in not one but two movies released the same year. First she delivered a dubious performance as the Longford native who fell in love with the revolutionary Michael Collins.
Then she played an Irish housemaid who becomes embroiled in a love affair with her employer Dr Jekyll, and his alter ego, Mr Hyde. Her dialect was as poor as the plotline.
Another ‘worst offender’ is Gerard Butler in the adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s best-seller P.S. I Love You. Nobody loved the Scotsman’s attempt at a Dublin accent in this 2007 movie starring Hilary Swank.
However, there have also been some flawless performances in recent times by non-Irish actors. The best in recent memory is Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People.
Her perfectly neutral accent hit all the right notes with viewers and she later said that listening to Mayo author Sally Rooney’s accent helped immensely.
Also to be commended are Jon Voight as a garda in The General and Cate Blanchett as the murdered journalist Veronica Guerin in the 2003 Joel Schumacher outing.