Read Watch Listen: St. Patrick's Day Edition

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey in County Galway, Ireland

Here at Context, those of us not close to the headquarters of all things Irish are embracing the festive spirit of St. Patrick's day by sipping a pint of Guinness (or a glass of whisky) and tapping our feet to a fiddly tune at home in our armchairs. If you're doing the same, we collected some recommendations on what to read, watch, and listen to on this festive Saint Patrick's Day. 

To Watch

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is a beautifully made film set during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920’s, and follows two brothers who join the Irish guerilla forces fighting the British. It’s the perfect cinematic primer for those curious to learn about modern Irish history.

Other highly recommended films include:

  • The Commitments (1991): A lively film directed by Alan Parker about forming a soul band in working-class Dublin.
  • In the Name of the Father (1993): A powerful drama based on the true story of the Guildford Four, directed by Jim Sheridan.
  • Brooklyn (2015): A beautifully crafted film based on Colm Tóibín's novel, exploring Irish immigration to the United States in the 1950s.

To Read

We start with Dubliners by James Joyce, highlighting aa collection of short stories that capture the essence of Dublin in the early 20th century. Drop into Joyce's writing to experience middle-class life in Ireland in the 19th century, getting to know the characters within each of the fifteen short stories included in this iconic work. 

Other works worth exploring: 

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney: A modern love story exploring complex relationships and the challenges of young adulthood.
  • Seamus Heaney's Poetry: Explore the works of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, known for his evocative poems like "Digging" and "Mid-Term Break."

To Listen

It's no mistake that many call Ireland the land of song. From raucous to reflective, there's an Irish music for everyone. A few essential Irish favorite artists and songs include:

  • U2: Iconic rock band, known for hits like "With or Without You" and "Beautiful Day."
  • The Cranberries: Famous for their alternative rock sound, with hits like "Zombie" and "Linger."
  • Hozier: Singer-songwriter whose soulful voice and poetic lyrics are showcased in songs like "Take Me to Church" and "Nina Cried Power." 
  • The Pogues—"Fairytale of New York" and "Fiesta" 
  • The Dubliners—"Molly Malone"
  • Ed Sheeran- "Galway Girl"
  • Van Morrison—"Star of the County Down" (Here’s a little-known-fact, Van Morrison is from Belfast though many people think he's American). 

Share your favorite Irish works with us on social media or drop us a line at and let's make this St. Patrick's Day our best one yet!

- Updated March 6, 2024