The Banshees of Inisherin is the latest film from acclaimed writer and director Martin McDonagh, best known for the film In Bruges. This tremendous new comedy is set and filmed in Ireland, using Ireland’s beautiful scenery and acting talent.
The film has wowed audiences and received high praise from film critics and casual movie-goers alike. In this article, we’re delving behind the scenes to explore the cast and filming locations of The Banshees of Inisherin, as well as the meaning behind the story.
Scroll down to read through the article, or click on one of the highlighted sections below to jump ahead!
Table of Contents
What is The Banshees of Inisherin About?
The Banshees of Inisherin is a film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. It tells the story of a pair of friends dealing with the alarming consequences that follow when one abruptly ends their relationship. Beyond this, the film is about the community fostered by Ireland’s culture as an island nation. The film is set at the tail end of the Irish Civil War in 1923.
Ireland’s stunning landscape acts as a setting for the human experiences of friendship, the bonds formed in small communities, and the consequences of ending relationships. Writer-director Martin McDonagh is known for the emotion portrayed in his films, and this gem is no different.
Is The Banshees of Inisherin a Comedy?
The Banshees of Inisherin has been described as a dark comedy. The film is skillfully portrayed with themes of uncertainty where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Much of the satire comes from the madness that derives from living in a rural and suffocatingly small community that lacks no individuality. Martin McDonagh humorously plays on these cultural quirks, inviting the audience to relish in the Irish ways of living.
The Banshees of Inisherin follows two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse, potentially ruining their friendship, something that is not often seen in cinema or really in any dramatisations. Albeit, it’s a life experience that most of us have encountered in our lives.
In some parts of the film, the audience is met with squeamish and bloody scenes, which contribute to the theme of dark comedy and nail-biting tension. If you’re expecting a light-hearted comedy, this film isn’t it. But if you are prepared to laugh in the most unlikely of scenes, then most definitely, give The Banshees of Inisherin a try.
Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek of what’s in store:
Is The Banshees of Inisherin a Sequel to In Brugge?
In short, the answer is no. The Banshees of Inisherin is not a sequel to In Brugge.
Although both films are directed by Martin McDonagh and the two main protagonists are played by the same actors, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, this film is a standalone piece not connected to any of McDonagh’s other stories.
In Brugge was released in 2008 and quickly became a much-loved cult classic. The dark comedy focuses on a guilt-stricken hitman, played by Colin Farrell, who goes into hiding with his hitman partner, played by Brendan Gleeson.
The duo have returned to screens almost 15 years later to play another set of roles that centre around friendship. However, this role in The Banshees of Inisherin is much more character-led, personalised and narrative-driven.
The Cast of Banshees of Inisherin
This film contains an ensemble cast of some of the best Irish actors of all time.
The leads in the film will be familiar to those who have seen the cult classic In Bruges by filmmaker Martin McDonagh, as Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson reunite after 14 years. They play two islanders at a crossroads in their relationship when one announces they are no longer friends.
Colin Farrell – Pádraic Súilleabháin
Born on 31 May 1976 in Castleknock, Dublin, Colin Farrell is an Irish actor best known for his role in the cult classic In Bruges, in which he plays Ray, a tortured hitman who is sent to Bruges on holiday with his friend Ken, played by Brendan Gleeson.
The Banshees of Inisherin sees this loveable duo reunite with McDonagh to create another classic Irish film. Farrell plays Pádraic, the scorned islander who his friend has rejected. The film explores his emotions as he deals with the trauma of losing his closest friend – for seemingly no reason.
Farrell’s impressive career ranges from action sci-fi Total Recall to his more recent appearance as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. With thought-provoking romance dramas such as The Lobster and unsettling thrillers such as The Killing of A Sacred Deer, Colin Farrell’s range is impeccable.
Farrell has done everything from joining the Wizarding World in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them to portraying Alexander the Great.
Brendan Gleeson – Colm Doherty
Born on 29 March 1955 in Dublin, Brendan Gleeson is a world-renowned Irish actor known best for his role as Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter film franchise. It was a role well suited to his previous profession, teaching, which he did for ten years before starting his acting career.
Gleeson plays Colm, the man who has decided to shun his friend, in The Banshees of Inisherin. Colm is a musician and will go to extremes to ensure his wishes are respected.
Gleeson’s other appearances are too long to list, but some of our favourite roles of his are in The Guard, Michael Collins, Gangs of New York, The Secret of Kells, and, of course, Paddington 2.
Kerry Condon – Siobhán Súilleabháin
Born on 4 January 1983 in Thurles, Co Tipperary, actress Kerry Condon plays Siobhán, the caring sister of Farrell’s character. Inisherin has very little to offer Siobhán, however.
You may recognise Kerry from her wildly successful career in television and film, appearing in hit TV series Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, Rome and even a short stint on Ballykissangel. However, did you know that Condon voices Iron Man’s trusty A.I., known as F.R.I.D.A.Y, in various films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Barry Keoghan – Dominic Kearney
Born 18 October 1992 in Dublin, Keoghan delivers another skilful performance as a local young lad named Dominic in The Banshees of Inisherin. Dominic helps Siobhán to try and reconcile the relationship between the two main characters.
Keoghan has burst onto the film scene in the last decade. He has found continued success in the superhero genre, acting alongside Angelina Jolie in Marvel’s Eternals and making a cameo appearance as the Joker in Reeves’ The Batman. He also acted alongside Farrell in The Killing of A Sacred Deer.
Keoghan has also featured in historical dramas such as Dunkirk, Black ’47, and ’71 and critically acclaimed TV Shows such as Chernobyl and Love/Hate.
Other Notable Cast Members
- Irish Comedian Pat Shortt as Jonjo Devine, the local barman.
- Irish Comedian Jon Kenny as islander Gerry
- Sheila Flitton as Mrs. McCormick, the Banshee
- Bríd Ní Neachtain as Mrs. O’Riordan
- Sean-nós singer and Aran Islands native Lasairfhíona as a Female Singer
- Gary Lydon as Peadar Kearney, a member of the Garda
- David Pearse as The Priest
- Aaron Monaghan as Declan
Is Inisherin a Real Place?
You may find yourself asking, “Where is Inisherin?” after watching the film.
If you are struggling to find the island on a map, fear not. Your geography skills are working fine, and many others have had similar struggles, for Inisherin is not a real location in Ireland. It is a fictional island off Ireland’s West Coast.
Where was The Banshees of Inisherin Filmed?
Inisherin, the setting of the film, is a made-up village portrayed using other beautiful Irish islands. The Banshees of Inisherin was filmed on location in Ireland on the Inis Mor (Inishmore) and Achill Islands. The film shows the incredible scenery, mountains, coastline and greenery of the Wild Atlantic Way and the West coast of Ireland in particular.
Director Martin McDonagh aimed to make the most beautiful Irish film he and his team could, and from the movie’s very first opening shot, we knew we were in for a visionary delight.
Inis Mor (Inishmore)
Inis Mor, or Inishmore, which translates from Irish to English as ‘Big Island’, is the largest of the Aran islands off the West Coast of Ireland. It is well known to local Irish people and tourists for its beautiful coastal views, historical religious sites, and monuments.
Inis Mor serves as a museum of the religious and mythological history of Ireland, with Celtic and Christian markers that narrate the tales of the land. You may also have heard of Inis Mor, as it claims to be the ‘real Craggy Island’ from Father Ted.
Each year, locals near Inir Mor hold a ‘Father Ted’ festival colloquially known as Ted Fest.
This Island can be reached by ferry and is an amazing tourist destination. Inis Mor is well worth the visit for more than just its stunning scenery. Here are a few things you can do while visiting Inis Mor (Inishmore):
Experience the Wildlife
Inis Mor has amazing sea birds to observe and a seal colony that makes its home on the shore. You are sure to see some lovely wildlife on a walk about the island.
Learn a New Craft
Visit Ireland has created a behind-the-scenes video for the film, talking about this dedication to the scenery of Ireland and how it sets the scene for the film beautifully. Watch the video below:
Enjoy Local Music
Cycle or Walk Around the Island
Bicycles can be hired from businesses on the island. Inis Mor is primarily flat, making biking or walking around the island an enjoyable experience, even if you aren’t a nature lover. A walk or cycle around Inis Mor is the ideal way to see more of the beauty of the place.
Water Activities Such as Cliff Diving, Fishing, Sailing, and Surfing
Being an Island, there is lots to do on the water to keep yourself busy while visiting Inis Mor. Take the plunge for a bit of wild swimming or surf the waves. Then, head home to get warm before enjoying some delicious seafood at a local pub.
Achill Island is the largest of Ireland’s isles. It is connected to the land via a bridge over Achill Sound, which makes it easily reachable by car. Achill is filled with local charm, with small shops and pubs to frequent and stunning natural beauty all around.
When visiting Achill, you can participate in a range of activities in the water or on land to take advantage of all that Achill has to offer. Here are some of the many activities you can participate in on a trip to Achill Island:
- Canoeing & Kayaking
- Horseback Riding
- Kite Surfing
- Rock Climbing
- Taking a Seaweed Bath
- Wild Swimming – Keem Bay off of Achill Island was voted the best wild swimming spot in Ireland!
The Banshees of Inisherin filming locations on Keem Bay, Achill Island
Much of the film’s character reflection scenes were set on the beach of Keem Bay, located on Achill Island. This comes as no surprise as Keem Bay has been voted the best beach in Ireland on multiple occasions, and more recently, it was even voted as one of the best beaches in the world.
The crystal blue waters of Keem Bay contrast beautifully against the backdrop of the surrounding green hills. The surrounding cliffs create a sheltered beach, making it the perfect spot for swimming and water sports activities. Many visitors also use its crashing waves to surf across.
If you’re visiting Ireland, Keem Bay in Achill Island is a must-see, not just to visit a key filming location for The Banshees of Inisherin but also to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery that Ireland has to offer.
What Year is The Banshees of Inisherin set in?
The Banshees of Inisherin is set in 1923, at the tail end of the Irish Civil War that lasted from June 1922 to May 1923. The Irish Civil War was an internal conflict between the people of Ireland following their declaration of independence from British rule.
What is the storyline of The Banshees of Inisherin?
The Banshees of Inisherin centres around two protagonists who play lifelong friends: Pádraic Súilleabháin, played by Colin Farrell, and his friend Colm Doherty, played by Brendan Gleeson.
The story begins after Colm tells Pádraic, abruptly and surprisingly, that he no longer wants to be friends and ends their relationship. Pádraic is taken aback by the news and left confused over what has caused his friend to make such a request.
However, Colm offers no explanation as to why he has made this choice. He just simply states that he no longer likes him.
Pádraic continues to pester Colm for an explanation, refusing to accept his mere and weak excuse that he just ‘no longer likes him’. After years of spending time together in the pub on an almost daily occasion, Pádraic cannot fathom what has caused this split.
Pádraic enlists the help of his sister, Siobhán, played by Kerry Condon, in order to find out the real reason why Colm has cut him off as a friend. Siobhán informs Pádraic that Colm has aspirations of becoming a great violinist and that his friendship with Pádraic is holding him back from achieving his dreams.
Colm wants to make something of his life and not spend the rest of his days drinking at the local pub.
Upon hearing this news, Pádraic still believes that he can reignite his friendship with Colm, although Colm is stubborn in his decision and has no desire to rekindle the friendship. Colm threatens that he will cut off one of his own fingers from his left hand every time Pádraic attempts to speak with him.
Following a drunken argument, where Pádraic yells at Colm for the breakdown in their friendship and for ‘not being a nice guy’, Colm bites back, stating that “no one will ever be remembered for being nice the same way a great musician will be remembered for their work”.
The next day, Pádraic attempts to apologise to Colm for their drunken dispute, but Colm wasn’t bluffing in his promise the day before. And, to the audience’s dismay, Colm abruptly chops off his index finger and launches it at Pádraic’s front door.
Explaining the Ending of The Banshees of Inisherin
Following his DIY amputation, Colm continues to perfect his masterpiece and learns to play the violin with only four fingers. Upon the completion of his lifework, he excitedly tells Pádraic that he has finished his song, “The Banshees of Inisherin”.
The two almost rekindle their friendship, but before the bond can be recemented, Pádraic confesses that he has told one of Colm’s musician friends that his father was dying, tricking the friend into leaving the island due to his feelings of jealousy.
A stubborn and unforgiving Colm chops his remaining digits off of his left hand and again launches them at Pádraic’s front door.
Unfortunately, Pádraic’s beloved donkey eats one of the fingers and ends up choking and dying. A grief-stricken Pádraic then threatens to burn Colm’s house down the next day, whether he is in it or not. Pádraic, now hellbent on revenge, also ignores his sister’s letter in which she offers him a better life on the mainland of Ireland.
The next day, Pádraic follows through on his promise and burns Colm’s house down. He spots Colm sitting in the home when he ignites the match, but that does not deter him. Pádraic does at least have the heart to lead Colm’s dog away and take the pet home with him before he sets the house ablaze.
After burning Colm’s home to the ground, Pádraic finds Colm to be alive the next day. Colm apologises for inadvertently causing the death of Pádraic’s donkey and suggests that the two are now even. Pádraic responds by saying that they would only be even if Colm had been in the house when it burned down.
From watching the movie, the subtle hints about the Irish Civil War are stitched together in the end scene. The Civil War is coming to an end as the fractious relationship between the two friends is also coming to a crescendo.
It feels that the film ends with an uneasy peace, but a lot of damage has been done to both sides – in fact, both men have experienced brutal losses.
What was the meaning of The Banshees of Inisherin?
At the tell end of the film, we are given a hint as to the metaphor of this tale. Colm remarks that the Irish Civil War is ending, to which Pádraic replies they will be fighting again soon and that “some things there’s no moving on from.”
As Pádraic walks away, Colm thanks him for looking after his dog. They now appear to be civil and on a somewhat ice-thin friendship.
The film is thought to be a metaphor for the Irish Civil War. The turbulent breakup of a friendship encapsulates both sides of the Irish civil dispute, representing opposing forces in the country who ultimately destroyed themselves in the process of fighting and war.
The film depicts this through the characters of Colm, who no longer has fingers to play the fiddle with, and Pádraic, who lost out on his opportunity for a better life. This feeling of loss is an experience shared by many Irish civilians who were caught up in the civil unrest.
Perhaps the unpredicted and somewhat pointless cause of their spilt also represents the pointless fighting during the Irish Civil War; no one came out victorious, but both sides suffered horrific consequences. It appears that Martin McDonagh has taken the saying, “You would cut your nose off to spite your face”, and turned that into a truly remarkable and unique depiction of Irish history.
Other meanings or themes that can be pulled from this film include:
- Civil War
- Irish History – the Partition of Ireland, and where we say it is over, but the grudge continues.
- Emigration – Siobhan leaving the island for the Irish mainland.
- Irish Folklore – The Legend of the Banshee.
When and Where Can You Watch The Banshees of Inisherin?
The UK and Ireland theatre release date for The Banshees of Inisherin was the 21st of October 2022. It was featured in cinemas across the world. Depending on your region, you can watch The Banshees of Inisherin on HBO Max and Disney+. It has been available to stream from December 2022.
The Banshees of Inisherin shows the spectacular beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way and the isles of Ireland, as well as the small-town culture of Ireland. Make sure to see this great new film from Martin McDonagh, and maybe it will inspire your next trip to Ireland.
Just in case you were wondering, the Banshee ghost does not appear in this film in a literal sense. You can, however, read the tale of this lone Irish fairy in our Banshee article, which explores the truth behind Irish mythology’s most tragic and misunderstood figures. It may help you to understand some symbolic themes in the film!
In The Banshees of Inisherin, the Banshee is represented by the old woman called Mrs McCormack. She is seen when there are deaths in the movie. Mrs McCormack predicts two deaths, and she features in the final scene with the two main characters.
Banshees are typically seen as ghosts, but Mrs McCormack appears in the flesh in the movie. The debate will continue!
Watching the movie reminded us of a quote from WB Yeats‘s poem, September 1913: “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, It’s with O’Leary in the grave. It is something this film does as well: it shows Ireland’s romantic landscape and the love of the land and its people while at the same time dealing with some troubling topics from the Civil War to broken friendships and family lives.
Want to learn more about the Wild Atlantic Way or Achill and why you should visit? Check out our other articles to find out more.
Awards Won by The Banshees of Inisherin Film and Cast
The Banshees of Inisherin was a remarkable success that received many awards and accolades. In total, the film was nominated for 290 awards and won 130, nearly half of them, including best picture. Here are some of the most esteemed awards won by the film:
- Volpi Cup for Best Actor – Colin Farrell
- British Academy Film Awards Outstanding British Film
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor – Colin Farrell
- Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy – Colin Farrell
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay – Martin McDonagh
- Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay – Martin McDonagh
- British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Barry Keoghan
- Irish Film & Television Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Brendan Gleeson
- British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Kerry Condon
- Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
The Banshees of Inisherin was nominated for a total of 8 awards at the Golden Globes, which is the highest number for a single film since 2004. Here are some other categories that the film was nominated for but did not win:
- The Academy Awards (Oscars) – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score
- BAFTA Film Awards – Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Editing, Best Original Score
- Critics’ Choice Awards – Best Picture, Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Acting Ensemble
- Golden Globe Awards – Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Score
- Irish Film & Television Awards – Best Director, Best Actor in a Lead Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Script, Best Costume Design, Best Hair & Make-Up, Best Sound, Best VFX
Reviews for The Banshees of Inisherin
The reviews for The Banshees of Inisherin were positive from both critics and general audiences. People enjoyed the excellent acting and, of course, the Irish Scenery. The themes of friendship and civil war are topical at any time, making it a hit in the cinemas.
The film boasts a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and scored 7.710 on IMDb. It is an instant Irish classic and has brought the life and culture of rural Ireland to masses across the globe.
Reading social media comments and reviews, it is clear that the damaged relationship between two good friends has struck a chord with many viewers. It is evident that friendships come and go throughout our lifetime. Some audience members were encouraged to reach out to an old friend after watching the film.
The Banshees of Inisherin Best Movie Quotes
Have You Been Rowing?
Siobhan: Have ye been rowing?
Pádraic: We haven’t been rowin’… I don’t think we’ve been rowin’. Have we been rowin’? Why wouldn’t he answer the door to me?
Siobhan: Maybe he just doesn’t like you no more.The Banshee of Inisherin, Movie Quote © 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS.
I Just Don’t Like You No More:
Pádraic: Now I’m sittin’ here next to you, and if you’re goin’ back inside, I’m followin’ you inside, and if you’re goin’ home, I’m followin’ you there, too.
Now… if I’ve done somethin’ to ya, just tell me what I’ve done to ya. And if I’ve said somethin’ to ya, maybe I said somethin’ when I was drunk, and I’ve forgotten it, but I don’t think I said somethin’ when I was drunk, and I’ve forgotten it.
But if I did, then tell me what it was, and I’ll say sorry for that too, Colm. With all me heart, I’ll say sorry. Just stop running away from me like some fool of a moody schoolchild.
Colm: But you didn’t say anything to me. And you didn’t do anything to me.
Pádraic: That’s what I was thinking, like.
Colm: I just don’t like you no more.
Pádraic: You do like me.
Colm: I don’t.
Pádraic: But you liked me yesterday.
Colm: Oh, did I, yeah?
Pádraic: I thought you did…The Banshee of Inisherin, Movie Quote © 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS.
Some FAQs about The Banshees of Inisherin:
Where was The Banshees of Inisherin filmed?
Inishmore and Achill Island in Ireland were used as the locations for the fictional location of Inisherin, from the movie The Banshees of Inisherin. The cottages were located in a local town called Gort Na gCapall in Inishmore.
Other sites used on Achill Island include Cloughmore, Purteen Habour, Keem Bay, Corrymore Lake and St. Thom’s Church in Dugort. The islands are in County Mayo – part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Where is Inisherin Island?
Inisherin Island is actually not a real location in Ireland. Instead, it is a combination of Inis Mor (Inishmore) and Achill Islands in County Mayo, Ireland. The location is made up of spectacular rugged scenery from the West of Ireland.
What year is The Banshees of Inisherin set in?
The Banshee of Inisherin is set in 1923, at the end of the Irish Civil War, fought from 28 June 1922 to 24 May 1923. The Irish Civil War is referred to multiple times in the film, and there is also a calendar showing 1923.
Is The Banshees of Inisherin a sequel to In Bruges?
While the films share the same genre, cast and director, The Banshees of Inisherin is not a sequel to the 2008 movie In Bruges.
How many fingers does Colm cut off?
Colm initially cuts off 1 finger on his left hand and then later cuts off the remaining digits. After each finger is amputated, he throws them all at his friend Padraic’s cottage.
What is the meaning of The Banshees of Inisherin?
Inisherin is a made-up location on the West Coast of Ireland and is not a real location or word. Therefore, it does not have any meaning or translation. The film The Banshees of Inisherin is a tale of friendship and death.
What is a Banshee?
A Banshee is a female spirit in Irish folklore believed to be an omen of death. Banshees are said to cry or wail before the death of a local. Historically, they were heard before the death of a famous Irish person and were thought to follow royal bloodlines.
The Banshees of Inisherin is a Spectacular Irish Film
The filming locations of The Banshees of Inisherin not only served as a backdrop for this captivating film but also played a vital role in bringing its enchanting story to life. The picturesque landscapes and rugged beauty of the Aran Islands provided a visually stunning setting and contributed to the film’s themes of isolation, tradition, friendship, and loss.
Furthermore, the choice of these remote locations highlighted the authenticity of the film’s narrative, capturing the essence of the Irish countryside and the enduring spirit of its people. The rugged coastlines, quaint cottages, and windswept landscapes became integral elements of the story, reflecting the characters’ struggles.
The filming locations of The Banshees of Inisherin transformed the movie; they brought the characters to life and added depth and meaning to the story. As the film ends, we are left with a lasting impression that transcends time and place, reminding us of the power of storytelling and the magic of the Irish countryside.
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