top of page

About the Book

In our age, history is no longer written by the victors.

History is written by the filmmakers.

Joan Dean

 The Irish Republican Army has appeared in over eighty motion pictures and television shows, granting it an unprecedented and ironic cinematic presence. Like Basque separatists in Spain, it is involved in a protracted internecine struggle with few global ramifications. An IRA victory would not create a haven for international terrorists, destabilize NATO, disrupt world markets, or endanger British security. Other revolutionary organizations have inflicted more harm, espouse more ominous ideologies, and pose greater threats to international stability. Yet none of these militant forces has captivated moviemakers like the Irish Republican Army.

The IRA commands a greater screen presence than the PLO, ETA, or the FLN because it is Irish. It is not the nature, size, or significance of the organization or the value of the land in dispute but the people it involves that attracts attention. Unlike a regional conflict in Spain or Serbia, the Irish Troubles reverberate around the world.

         Whether portrayed as a heroic patriot, ruthless terrorist, corrupt gangster, or troubled outcast, the Irish rebel has emerged as a universally recognized cinematic archetype. The IRA on Film and Television takes a “history vs. Hollywood” approach to the IRA film, tracing, as objectively as possible, the record of the IRA from its emergence during the Easter Rising of 1916 through the peace process of the 1990s, then examining its depictions on film.

Table of Contents

1 The Troubles I: The War of Independence and the Irish Civil War

2 The Big Fellow: Michael Collins

3 The Shamrock and the Swastika

4 The Troubles II

5 The Classics: The Informer and Odd Man Out

6 American Angles

7 International Intrigue

8 The Gangster Film: Criminalizing the IRA

9 Themes and Characters

10 Post Troubles?

The IRA on Film and Television

bottom of page