Thanks to the massive reach of streaming platforms, some Irish television hits have recently broken through on the global stage, including the comedy Derry Girls, which landed on Netflix, and the romance Normal People, on Hulu. With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, there’s no better time to dive into some quality Irish TV.
This hilarious sitcom, which premiered in 2018 and is set to film its third season this year, follows the travails of five teenagers at a Catholic school in 1990s Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Against the backdrop of bomb scares and checkpoints created by The Troubles, the violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the main characters are focused on their teenage concerns, like crushes and exams.
Peak Irish moment: During a family wedding in the second season’s fourth episode, guests burst into coordinated choreography when the Hues Corporation song “Rock the Boat” starts playing, a common sight at Irish celebrations.
Watch it: Derry Girls, on Netflix
Originally airing from 1995 to 1998, this BAFTA-winning sitcom follows the hijinks of three priests (and their housekeeper) who have been exiled to the fictional Craggy Island off of Ireland’s western coast.
Peak Irish moment: In the show’s third episode, Father Ted and Father Dougal McGuire are ordered to protest against a sexy film at the local movie theater (inspired by Ireland’s protests against Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.) They do so half-heartedly, and their signs, reading, “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful now,” became one of the show’s most-recognized jokes, and have become sights at real-life protests.
Watch it: Father Ted, on Prime Video
Based on the best-selling novel by Irish author Sally Rooney, this 2020 series is equal parts steamy and tragic. It follows two high school classmates who leave their fictional small town set in western Ireland’s County Sligo to attend Trinity College in Dublin, and their on-again, off-again romance, which follows them from Dublin to Italy and Sweden.
Peak Irish Moment: The show highlights many common rites of passage for Irish teens, including Debs, the Irish version of prom, in Episode 3.
Watch it: Normal People, on Hulu
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Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) mined his childhood experiences growing up in a small Irish town for this coming-of-age series, which premiered on Hulu in 2013. He stars as the imaginary best friend of a quirky 12-year-old boy, Martin Moone, growing up in Boyle, County Roscommon, in western Ireland during the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
Peak Irish moment: In Episode 5 of the first season, Martin is confirmed, and decides he wants to become one of the “cool” altar boys — though he soon learns they’re not as devout as he thought.
Watch it: Moone Boy, on Hulu
This 2013 crime series stars Gillian Anderson (X-Files, The Crown) as a British detective hunting down a serial killer (50 Shades of Gray‘s Jamie Dornan) who’s attacking the young professional women of Belfast.
Peak Irish moment: The resentment Anderson’s character faces as a Brit coming into a Northern Irish police force is just one of the subtle ways the show hints at the lingering repercussions of the Troubles.
Watch it here: The Fall, on Peacock
Adapted from John Danville’s popular book series, this crime noir stars Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) as the chief pathologist at a city morgue in gritty 1950s Dublin. The show follows Dr. Quirke as he solves crimes with the local police inspector, and struggles with his own family secrets.
Peak Irish moment: Byrne actually grew up in 1950s Dublin, the son of a cooper who made barrels for Guinness.
Watch it: Quirke, on Prime Video
A drama set in Dublin’s criminal underworld, Love/Hate has been called the Irish version of The Wire or The Sopranos, and was one of the country’s most-watched shows. The series, which aired in Ireland from 2010 to 2014, focuses on a gang leader and the psychological impacts of his work.
Peak Irish moment: Critics praised the series’ colorful Dublin slang (much of which is a little too colorful to print here).
Watch it: Love/Hate, on BritBox
After discovering her fiancé is cheating on her, a Dublin solicitor (a type of lawyer) decides to quit her job at the prestigious firm owned by his father and start her own family law practice, run out of a coffee shop. The dramedy series ran for two seasons in Ireland, from 2017 to 2018, before coming to the States on Acorn TV.
Peak Irish moment: This was the first Irish show to put the country’s complex legal system front and center, and the show’s writers hired solicitors and barristers as advisers to make sure they got it right.
Watch it: Striking Out, on Prime Video