The 5 absolute worst Irish accents in film

Words: Eva O’Beirne

There’s something about Hollywood and butchering the Irish accent.

You would think after so many bad examples, they would either pack it in or perhaps spend some time listening to Irish people. District has asked our audience and our staff for what they think are the worst Irish accents in movies of all time.

Although it was hard to choose just five, we’re fairly sure we’ve found the ones that will make your skin crawl.

5. Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York (2002)

You know it’s bad when you didn’t realise they were supposed to be Irish. The Gangs of New York is peak naughties Hollywood. Two hours long and starring Liam Neeson and Leonardo DiCaprio as father and son (you read that right), the film is set in 1862 amongst Protestant-Catholic tensions in the slums of New York.

The base material is fascinating, but what is more fascinating is what Cameron and Leo think an Irish accent is supposed to sound like.

You would think with both Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson on set they could at least mimic some words. Unfortunately what Leo and Cameron bring to the table is more leprechaun than gangster.

4. Tom Cruise in Far and Away (1992)

Tom’s accent in this movie can only be described as unstable. Playing Irish immigrant Joseph Donnelly in the 90s attempt at a western, Tom manages to hammer home every top-of-the-morning cliché but barely keeps his voice the same. How Nicole Kidman coped, we don’t know.

3. Matthew Goode in Leap Year (2010)

The wonderful thing about Matthew Goode is that he knows he did an awful job with this one.

Starring alongside Amy Adams, Matthew plays a sullen bartender who begrudgingly brings an American woman across Ireland so she can propose to her long-term boyfriend on February 29. Hijinks ensue, cows block roads, they take a detour to Dingle, American lady falls in love with the sarcastic barman.

On the film Matthew said: “Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But you know I had a nice time and I got paid.”

2. Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly (1996) and Michael Collins (1996)

Twice in one year, Julia Roberts was featured in a blockbuster film as an Irish character. And twice in one year, she butchered the accent. What did we ever do to you Julia?

She slightly gets away with it in Mary Reilly, a psychological horror movie based on a maid having a relationship with the notorious Dr Jekyll. So uber-serious it becomes camp, her performance as the titular character is buried under the source material.

As for the historical biopic Michael Collins, she brutally sticks out amongst a cast who were well versed in their dialect coaching. Poorly miscast, it’s the contrast between Julia and Liam Neeson that sinks her performance completely.

1. Everyone in Wild Mountain Thyme (2021)

Jamie Dornan, I love you. But what the hell is this?

As soon as the trailer for Wild Mountain Thyme hit the internet, it went viral for all the wrong reasons.

The film, starring Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan, is poorly-accented horror. Set on a mystical Irish farm in a weird mashup of the 1960s and 2010s, the film features a cast of incredibly talented A-listers with Irish accents that make your skin crawl.

It is genuinely too hard to choose who gave the worst performance, but Christoper Walken’s pirate version of the Irish accent is definitely up there.

To make matters worse, Emily Blunt’s character is always somewhat grimey and wild-looking, as if not taking a bath is compulsory to playing an Irish countrywoman.

And don’t get me started on what Mr Dornan sounds like. Shame on you Jamie.

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