An Irish Goodbye: A 2023 Oscar Winner of the Best Short Film
Updated On: May 12, 2023
An Irish Goodbye is a 2022 black comedy, directed by Ross White and Tom Berkeley. It follows the story of two brothers as they cope with the aftermath of their mother’s untimely death.
An Irish Goodbye is just 23 minutes long, but in this short span, it captures the uniqueness of Irish culture, local colloquialisms and a truly bittersweet narrative. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the plot of the unique short film, the filming location, the cast and more.
PSA: SPOILERS AHEAD
Table of Contents
Did an Irish Goodbye win an Oscar?
An Irish Goodbye deservedly picked up an Oscar for the Best Live Action Short Film, in the 95th Annual Academy Awards. James Martin, who co-stars as the brother Lorcan, was also the first person with Down’s Syndrome to win an Oscar.
Did an Irish Goodbye win a BAFTA?
An Irish Goodbye is picking up accolades with ease, most recently scooping a BAFTA for the Best British Short Film.
Where was An Irish Goodbye filmed?
An Irish Goodbye was filmed across County Derry, County Down (Saintfield) and County Antrim (Templepatrick). It showcases the rural and rugged beauty of the Irish countryside, particularly in the opening scenes, where we are met with rolling hilltops as far as the eye can see.
An Irish Goodbye was primarily filmed across Northern Ireland counties, which makes sense seeing as it was funded by the NI Screen. The rural backdrop also adds to the sense of isolation felt by both brothers and how they are basically stuck together until they figure it out and compromise with one another.
County Derry – filming location
County Derry is full of rich history and in 2013, it was named the U.K.’s City of Culture. From the historic Derry City Walls to the Craft Village and the Museum of Free Derry, it is a city bustling with the uniqueness of NI culture and history.
County Down – filming location
County Down runs along the border of the Irish coast and offers breathtaking scenic views of the Irish Sea. The County is also famous for being the potential resting place of St.Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.
County Down is home to many church ruins, in particular Inch Abbey, which is said to have been built as far back as the 12th or 13th century. The Mourne Mountains are another famous natural landmark attributed to County Down, with the Silent Valley particularly offering a place for solace and peace, against the breathtaking and jaw-dropping views of the highest mountain range in the North of Ireland.
Saintfield – filming location
Saintfield was one of the main towns used as a filming location for An Irish Goodbye. It is a civil parish village, which is fitting in tying in with the religious connotations seen in the short film. If you happen to visit Saintfield, be sure to check out Rowallane Gardens, a picturesque hidden gem that’s filled with greenery, mature trees and woodland.
County Antrim – filming location
County Antrim is another famous part of our Emerald Isle, best known for its scenic coastal routes, and the particularly terrifying yet thrilling, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. County Down is also home to the mythological Giants Causeway and the breathtaking Glens of Antrim.
It’s clear to see why this particular County was used in the filmography of An Irish Goodbye, even if we don’t see every famous landmark, we can still appreciate the rural beauty of the land.
An Irish Goodbye Cast
An Irish Goodbye features a cast of talented Irish actors, including those with impressive resumes and the upcoming stars to watch out for.
Who plays Lorcan in An Irish Goodbye?
Lorcan is played by the Belfast actor James Martin.
The Oscar win was particularly special for James as he is the first actor with Down’s Syndrome who has picked up the award; he can now add a BAFTA win to that repertoire as well. James is also an ambassador for Mencap NI, and a rising star to look out for.
Who plays Turloch in An Irish Goodbye?
The second brother, Turloch, is played by the Ballymena-born actor, Seamus O’Hara.
Seamus O’Hara has picked up some pretty impressive roles in recent years, such as a part in the 2022 film, The Northman, and a role in the hit Netflix series Shadow and Bone. You’ll be sure to see Seamus hit our screens again in the near future.
Who plays Father O’Shea in An Irish Goodbye?
Father O’Shea is played by the local comedian Paddy Jenkins.
You wouldn’t be mistaken for swearing that you have seen Father O’Shea somewhere before, and you would be right. Jenkins held the long-term role of Pastor Begbie in Give My Head Peace. Although he has grown to much bigger stardom since then, we will continue to see him working on our screens in the not-too-distant future.
An Irish Goodbye plot
The plot follows the story of two brothers as they cope with the loss of their mother. It’s a heartwarming tale that depicts the realities of death, an estranged family coming back together again and the tough decisions that need to be made in the aftermath.
Is an Irish Goodbye a comedy?
The bittersweet storyline of An Irish Goodbye is also met with highlights of Irish humour. It’s a black comedy that underpins the Irish mentality of coping with hard times through laughter. It’s the coping mechanism of the country and found in the most ruralest of Irish families.
Particularly comedic moments include the priest referring to the Mother’s ashes as “no more than a tub of Bisto” and Lorcan’s prayer to God when he says, “I probably won’t speak to you again until the next time something goes tits-up.”
What Happens in An Irish Goodbye?
Following the death of their Mother, the two estranged brothers attempt to sort through the aftermath and deal with the farmland she has left behind. Brother Lorcan is adamant that he can maintain the farm and he doesn’t want to sell and move from the property.
Brother Turlough, however, feels that Lorcan needs to move in with their Aunt Margaret to be looked after now that their mother has gone. He is planning on selling the farm before he moves back to his home in London.
The film only features three characters in its entire 23 minutes, which is ingenious in that it adds to the sense of loneliness and isolation that is commonly felt in parts of rural Ireland. This subtly provides an explanation as to why Turlough left and a reason as to why he is concerned about leaving his brother alone.
The Beginning of An Irish Goodbye
The beginning of An Irish Goodbye is quite a sombre scene. We are met with an image of a dead rabbit in the first scenes, introducing the theme of death, before we are greeted with the shot of Lorcan holding his mother’s ashes in the back seat of the car.
Once home, Father O’Shea and Turlouch converse over their worry about Lorcan, when asked how he is doing, it pans to a shot of Lorcan lying on the ground on his back. This particular moment offers a glimpse of comic relief and sets the precedent for the dark humour that is to follow.
Another notable moment in the film’s first scenes, is Lorcan’s comment to the priest, “You can tell your mate Jesus that is he a right Dickhead”. It’s quite a sharp line, and although he is not angry at Father O’Shea himself, Lorcan is expressing his outrage at God and the unfairness felt when someone dies.
Instead of badgering Lorcan about the bigger picture of God’s plan, Father O’Shea simply agrees with him in saying, “You’re right, sometimes he is a dickhead”. It’s a common inner conflict felt by those who believe in God, and the director’s Ross White and Tom Berkeley do a brilliant job at representing the realities of this inner turmoil.
The Narrative of An Irish Goodbye
Father O’Shea leaves the two men with a note that belonged to their mother, a bucket list of 100 things she wanted to do before she died. This sets the precedent of the film, featuring many heartwarming moments of the brothers reconciling whilst completing the list in her honour.
Although it is a little unorthodox in that they use her ashes as the vehicle for completing these activities on the list, i.e.) strapping the ashes to helium balloons because she wanted to take a ride on a hot air balloon, it offers many comic moments which serve as a small relief through the hardships of grief.
In this journey, we see the two brothers fall back into their brotherly ways, messing around with one another and Lorcan, who has a particular talent for talking Turloch into doing things that he is opposed to.
The list rekindles their relationship, and we heartbreakingly later learn that Father O’Shea never handed over their Mother’s bucket list. Lorcan simply made up the activities to stall Turlough in sorting out the farm and to spend time with the brother he so dearly misses.
How does An Irish Goodbye end?
Tensions rise when Lorcan overhears his brother discussing selling the farm, despite voicing his protests. A dark humourous moment then ensues when Lorcan tries to send his Mother’s ashes skydiving. Despite Turlough’s concerns, the ashes come crashing down and the vase smashes, leaving a depressing scene of the ashes soaking up the rain.
The film portrays family conflict that often ensues when people are met with a devasting loss, everyone is just trying to do their best. The breakdown in the brother’s relationship is particularly highlighted when Lorcan tries to take some of his Mother’s last remains, stating, “I’m taking my half of Mum.” Despite being a comedy, An Irish Goodbye doesn’t deflect away from the realities of losing a parent.
In the context of this film, there are a few Irish Goodbyes, the first in the form of their Mother’s untimely death, and the second in the final scenes of the short film. We don’t really know what happens, whether the farm is sold or if Lorcan continues to maintain it and keep his home.
One thing is clear at the end though, the brothers are on better terms and there is hope that Turloch sees his brother as a capable man. There is also the final moment of them both crossing out the last thing on the bucket list, to send their Mother into outer space. The brothers achieve this through a fireworks display, and although they don’t explicitly show it, we can assume that the mother’s ashes are sent into space along with the fireworks as her final wish so requested.
The final scene shows Lorcan and Turlouch reunited, with Lorcan stating that there was another thing on his Mother’s list that they forgot, her wishes for Turlouch to come home and live back on the farm. Although we don’t get to see a final resolution, the comfort in that the brothers are friends again, and there is hope for their future.
What were the themes in An Irish Goodbye?
An Irish Goodbye touched on many cultural themes associated with Ireland. In the short 23 minutes of the film, it portrays the casual nature of such themes and how they are presented in the everyday life of modern Ireland.
The theme of religion was touched on in many points of the film, mainly through the charter of Father O’Shea. It explored the common difficulties of maintaining faith in the Catholic religion, especially when life is deemed unfair.
This is particularly noted in the line that Lorcand delivers to the priest, “you can tell your mate Jesus that he is a right dickhead.” It was also comforting in the fact that the priest agreed with him, subtly hinting that he to had his own personal grievances with God.
Turlough also alludes to his frustration with the thoughts of staying in rural Ireland stating “I’m not getting stuck here.” This is a common cultural phenomenon within Ireland, to leave the country in search of a better life.
This narrative also becomes one of the main conflict points in the film, with Lorcan expressing his disdain for the fact that he now lives in the posh city of London, and expressing his wishes for his brother to come home and live on the farm again.
It is often recognised that Irish people have a great sense of humour, and a natural ability to make light of desperate situations. This was perhaps a result of the country’s turbulent past and a coping mechanism that the Irish made use of.
In the film, there are many moments of dark humour, which can be juxtapositioned in the context of grief. However, the film does an amazing job of showing the subtleness of bleak comedy and how the Irish would naturally tend to use it.
Of course, the main theme of An Irish Goodbye is death, it sets the precedent of the story and cleverly showcases how people grieve differently. Lorcan attempts to do something positive in his mother’s late honour, whilst Turlouch’s approach is to get the farm sorted and deal with the practicalities of his mother’s passing.
What is an Irish goodbye?
An Irish Goodbye is a term coined for the subtle exiting of a gathering. When someone does ‘an Irish goodbye’ they leave a party or gathering without saying goodbye to other guests, slipping out the back door if you will.
You might want to do an Irish Goodbye yourself if you don’t want to be tempted to stay any longer. An Irish goodbye avoids those awkward conversations or that usual line of, “Just stay for one more!”. Other countries have similar variations of the phrase, including, a French Exit or Dutch leave.
The directors of the film, Ross White and Tom Berkeley give the audience An Irish Goodbye of their own. We are left not knowing what will happen, but we got to enjoy their company in the short 23 minutes of the film and observe their journey of reconciliation and reigniting brotherly love and friendship.