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The 5 best Irish accents in film and TV

Words: Eva O’Beirne

When you think about how the Irish accent has been represented in media, it’s easier to think of the bad examples than the good.

Only a few weeks ago, District has our audience and our staff for what they think are the worst Irish accents in movies of all time – the response was huge. We decided to be a bit more positive this time around and praise the actors who did us proud. Sure aren’t they great.

So here we are, the best five Irish accents in film and TV.

5. Cate Blancett – Veronica Guerin (2003)

Cate’s portrayal of the Sunday Independent journalist makes it onto our list due to her consistency and her ability to steer away from the stereotypical.

Cate’s use of body language and dedication to the role of Veronica Guerin excuses any mild wobbles that appear in her accent.

4. Julie Walters – Brooklyn (2015)

Although Julie may be venturing a bit into Irish stereotypes with this one, her accent as Mrs Keogh in Brooklyn would still make you fear that you have left the immersion on or forgot to take in the washing.

Perfectly Irish-mammy-esque, her sharp punctuation and emphasis on the important words would nearly have you fooled.

3. Meryl Steep – Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)

Is there nothing that Meryl Streep can’t do? Her performance as Kate Mundy in Dancing at Lughnasa was so well-received that she was nominated for an IFTA that year.

Streep’s performance as a curtain-twitching and conservative older sister, combined with her natural Donegal brogue allows you to nearly believe she was born and raised in Ballybeg.

2. Jon Voight – The General (1998)

Jon Voight’s performance as a guard in the 1998 crime film has been hailed as the greatest Irish accent ever produced by an American actor by several critics.

Voight stars as Ned Kenny, a Garda inspector whose main adversary is Martin “The General” Cahill, played by Brendan Gleeson.

His ability to master both the role of an exasperated culchie and an exasperated guard has landed him in second place on our list.

1. Daisy Edgar Jones – Normal People (2020)

When most people find out that the actress that portrays Marianne from Normal People isn’t actually Irish, they’re shocked. Daisy carefully navigates her way through a soft combination of Sligo and south Dublin, staying at a lower pitch and hushed tones.

Her accent perfectly complimented that of her Kildare-born co-star Paul Mescal, which drew audiences further into the illusion that Daisy could be from Ireland herself.

Edgar-Jones, who hails from London, was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her performance in the 2020 series which was adapted from the Sally Rooney novel of the same name.

Elsewhere on District: Remembering Occupy Dame Street