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How does Irish culture get portrayed in modern media?

Even amongst the ancient Irish lands across the island, here in Armagh we have a uniquely deep connection to our culture. As the seat of St. Patrick, the patron saint of the country, as well as a key part of the Ulster Cycle and the legend of Cú Chulainn, Armagh is a landmark in Irish culture. How Ireland has been seen by the outside world has changed a lot over the years, so how do different elements translate to wider media?

Online Entertainment

When it comes to depictions of Irishness that aren’t in live-action, you’re almost guaranteed to find certain symbols cropping up a lot. Many are symbols that have been associated with Ireland for many years such as the leprechaun, the famous Blarney Stone, and most notably the four-leaf clover commonly linked to good luck.

Main image source: Unsplash

It’s likely these connotations that have made slot games a particularly common place to find Irish imagery. There are numerous casino franchises online that entirely revolve around leprechauns and pots of gold for their themes, and if a franchise covers multiple themes such as the Slingo bingo games range, an Irish entry is almost guaranteed. In fact, this theme is one of the most common across casino sites with titles over the years running into the hundreds.

TV and Movies

Like a lot of cultures in the world, the Hollywood treatment of Ireland over the years has been a little awkward. The movie and TV industries tend to boil the entire island down to a few old-fashioned ideas; County Armagh would be given the same treatment as somewhere like County Cork despite the distance and national border.

Fairly recent productions have been guilty of this as well, with non-Irish writers often failing to capture modern Ireland. With that said, movies and shows created more locally and with more native insight do exist and are succeeding. Films like Once and Waking Ned are close, if not perfect, representations of Irish life, and the acclaimed series Mrs Brown’s Boys comes directly from Irish experiences even if it is exaggerated heavily for comedic effect.


Traditional Irish music tends to get equally all lumped together with the island being treated as one entity, often with Scottish music being thrown in as well under the ‘celtic’ label. For a long time, Hollywood again played a role in shaping the outside belief that everything was fiddles and bagpipes, but recent history has separated out Irish and Northern Irish artists as unique parts of the culture.

Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

By far the most popular musical product in recent years is the Northern Irish and Scottish pop-rock group Snow Patrol, although music legend Van Morrison remains popular amongst older generations. Add to them more niche exports like The Undertones and Gama Bomb and it shows a Northern Irish music scene that has done a lot to establish itself independent of surrounding influences.

Irish culture remains as it always has, balancing images of the old with developments of the new. So many elements are now burned deeply into the way the world sees us, but that hasn’t stopped progress so far and it’s not likely to do so in the future!

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