Education, History & Now

7 films to understand why Ireland and England have beef

The Troubles were horrible, to say the least.

words by: Alee Kwong
Oct 12, 2022

The death of Queen Elizabeth II left many around the world mourning in silence and reminiscing about her 70-year reign. News about the Queen’s death flooded American media, with nonstop coverage overshadowing the very relevant tragedies occurring in Puerto Rico. While much of the world mourned, many countries who have found themselves under the fist of British tyranny and colonization were elated when they heard the news of her death. People were running to check Snapchat live locations to see things popping off in Ireland, Scotland, and British commonwealths.


Snapchat was not the only social media platform that was pure chaos. Did you know there’s an Irish Twitter? Yes, Irish Twitter was ablaze with people joking about this world-rocking death and there was no shame in celebrating the death of someone who belonged to a family who routinely oppressed these peoples’ ancestors.



A video of Shamrock Rovers F.C. fans singing “Lizzie’s in a box!” went viral within hours. The brazen joy over the death of the Queen shocked many parts of the world. A lot of this confusion has to do with the lack of education we have when it comes to the history between neighboring countries and England. More specifically, Ireland has a long and devastating history.


If you want a quick and engaging education in the oppression of the Irish by the hands of the British, here’s some homework. Be ready to have your mind blown because a lot of what we’ve learned in the American education system about the long-standing Irish/British conflict has been gross misinformation.


1. Ryan’s Daughter (1970)


Historical event: 1916 Easter Rising (AKA The Easter Rebellion)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video ($2.99), Apple TV ($2.99), YouTube ($2.99)

An epic drama of love and scandal set in a small village on the West Coast of Ireland during World War I. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a schoolteacher, Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) embarks on a passionate affair with a British soldier, but the village idiot unwittingly proves the undoing of the couple.


2. Some Mother’s Son (1996)


Historical event: 1981 Irish Hunger Strike (during the Troubles)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video ($1.99), Apple TV ($2.99), YouTube ($1.99)

In 1981, Kathleen Quigley (Helen Mirren), a soft-spoken Irish schoolteacher, is shocked to learn that her son, Gerard (Aidan Gillen), has been arrested for his involvement in the Irish Republican Army. In prison, Gerard and his friend, Frank Higgins (David O’Hara), participate in a hunger strike. Kathleen, who’s desperately worried for Gerard’s health, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Frank’s mother, Annie (Fionnula Flanagan), who supports their sons’ drastic choice.


3. Bloody Sunday (2002)


Historical event: 1972 Bloody Sunday (AKA the Bogside Massacre — during the Troubles)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+

On January 30, 1972, in the Northern Irish town of Derry, a peaceful protest march led by civil rights activist Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) turned into a slaughter. British soldiers suddenly opened fire on the defenseless crowd, killing 13 people and wounding 14 more. Shot as if a documentary, this film follows Ivan throughout the day as it chronicles the events leading up to the horrific incident and the bloodied, confused aftermath that followed.


4. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)


Historical event: The Irish War of Independence (January 1919-July 1921)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, The Roku Channel

In the early 1920s, Damien O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy), an Irish medical student, is about to leave Ireland to complete his training in London, but before doing so he witnesses atrocious brutalities carried out by the Black and Tans which leads him to join his brother Teddy (Pádraic Delaney) in the Irish Republican Army. Soon however, the peace treaty is signed, and the brothers are pitted against each other.


5. Derry Girls (2018-2022)


Historical event: The Troubles (1990s)

Where to watch: Netflix

It’s the 1990s, and religious and political divides have broken up Ireland. But in the Northern Ireland town of Derry, this group of teens are more bothered by the trials and tribulations of growing up. We follow a story through the eyes of 16-year-old Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica-Jackson) and her group of friends as they figure out life with their families, relationships, and each other — all while the British are attempting to colonize their backyards.


6. ’71 (2014)


Historical event: The Troubles (1971)

Where to watch: HBO Max, Hulu

Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell), a new recruit to the British Army, is sent to Belfast in 1971 during the early years of the Troubles. Under the leadership of the inexperienced Second Lieutenant Armitage, his platoon is deployed without protective gear to a volatile area where Irish Catholics (largely Republicans) and Ulster Protestants (largely Loyalists) live side by side. The unit provides support for the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it inspects homes for firearms, shocking Hook with their rough treatment of Catholic civilians. A crowd gathers to protest and provoke the British troops who, though heavily armed, can only respond by trying to hold the crowd back.


7. Hunger (2008)


Historical event: 1981 Irish Hunger Strike (during the Troubles)

Where to watch: The Roku Channel, Tubi

Focusing on the 1981 hunger strikes by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) is one of a group of prisoners who first “took to the blanket” with a “dirty protest” in pursuit of their claims for recognition as political prisoners. Sands then became the first one of the group to embark on a hunger strike that was to end in his death.


Here’s how people were able to see the celebrations of the Irish on Snapchat. Additionally, here’s resources to support Puerto Rico.


Photo via The Washington Post