For a long time now, Ireland has been creating incredible Irish TV shows that have taken the world by storm. Some have become instant classics, a staple part of our evenings, and act as comfort shows that we rewatch clips of when we are feeling homesick. Moreover others have launched our favourite actors into stardom.
The Irish have a unique sense of humour and view of the world and we showcase this through our own Television shows. We are not afraid to laugh at ourselves and parodies are never seen as anything more than a bit of fun. Conversely we have brilliant writers and actors who can elevate emotional scenes into harrowing moments.
There are many famous Irish TV shows that have not only captured the love and attention of the Irish, but people all around the world, and it’s no surprise; top quality shows are being created, inspired by and filmed in Ireland. For such a small country, we are home to skilled writers, producers, directors, and actors.
From laugh out loud comedies to enthralling dramas and thrillers, Irish TV shows have got it all covered. Keep reading to find out the best Irish TV Shows that have made a lasting impression on pop culture at home and around the world.
So, what Famous Irish TV Shows have made the list?
Famous Irish TV Shows #1: Derry Girls
The hit Irish sit-com created by Derry Woman Lisa McGee follows the life of a group of teenagers and their family during the Troubles in the early 90s.
Derry Girls was the most watched TV show ever in Northern Ireland after the release of its first season.
Set in the political unrest and cultural divide of the time, the show finds a wholesome innocent group of teenagers whose main problems of school and love often create ridiculous and hilarious situations.
Produced by Channel 4, Derry Girls is the companies most successful comedy since Father Ted. Its’ honest yet light hearted portrayal of the life of a teenager in Derry in the 90’s is appreciated by fans, especially since McGee draws from her own life experiences growing up there.
The Derry Girls mural is a popular tourist attraction, located at 18 Orchard Street Derry on the side of Badger’s Bar.
Aside from critical acclaim, Derry Girls is a huge success with fans both in Ireland as well as internationally, thanks to its addition on Netflix. Derry Girls even got referenced in The Simpsons , forever cementing its place in pop culture!
Famous Irish TV Shows #2: Love/Hate
Another famous Irish TV show that is filmed in and around Dublin, with talented Irish actors is the gritty crime drama of Love/Hate. The show first aired in October 2010 and ran until November 2014 following the fictional characters in Dublin’s criminal underworld.
Featuring Tom Vaughan Lawlor, Robert Sheehan, Ruth Negga, Aiden Gillen and Barry Keoghan, some of our favourite Irish actors have had their stint on the show.
Since it first aired on TV, the Irish show has had monumental success and views over its five-season and winning 19 IFTA Film & Drama Awards with many more nominations.
Love/Hate has been considered as one of Ireland’s greatest TV shows, its second season was the most viewed TV show in Ireland in 2011. It’s critical and commercial acclaim highlights the talented Irish actors, writers and producers who helped to create such a gripping show.
A captivating TV show that focuses on the grim reality of the crime Underworld, Love/Hate has often been praised for depicting the realities of Ireland that can contrast the traditional, nostalgic depiction we are so familiar to seeing in the media.
Famous Irish TV Shows #3: Father Ted
Up first, we have one of the most iconic and memorable Irish TV shows, Father Ted is an original Irish sitcom written by Irish writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews and produced by Hat Trick Production for Channel 4.
The series follows the unique lives and hilarious misadventures of three Irish priests; Father Ted, Father Jack and Father Dougal, who all live in the fictional Craggy Island, off the coast of Ireland.
The show has won many awards such as a BAFTA TV Award and has become a firm favourite with the Irish; since its initial release in 1995 it has rarely left our screens with regular reruns on both RTÉ and Channel 4. The Christmas special is an RTÉ favourite, airing every Christmas Eve, it has earned its status as a festive tradition in its own right.
Father Ted only had three series with 25 episodes altogether, originally released in the ’90s to critical acclaim. It was also voted by Channel 4 views at the N0.1 of ‘C4’s 30 Greatest Comedy Shows’ and was once their biggest comedy show before being taking oven by another Irish show ‘Derry Girls.’
With its fair share of cameos, Father Ted has featured cameo appearances from some of Ireland’s favourite comedians including Tommy Tiernan, Pat Shortt and Graham Norton to name a few
Famous Irish TV Shows #4: Normal People
A coming of age story based on the complex relationship between Marianne and Connell, Sally Rooney’s Normal People was an instant success for Hulu and the BBC upon its release during the pandemic of 2020. Film all around Co. Sligo as well as Trinity College Dublin.
Starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones as the leading duo with a complicated romance, the plot centres around the way their lives weave in and out of each other after secondary school and during the college years.
The binge-worthy Irish TV show was a huge success; from April 26th to May 3rd, Normal People received 16.2 million programme requests on the BBC iPlayer. The show received 4 Emmy nominations including a nomination for Paul Mescal as Best Actor.
Famous Irish TV Shows #5: The Fall
Filmed around locations in Northen Ireland particularly Belfast, ‘The Fall’ is a thrilling drama. The show stars Irish Actor Jamie Dornan, who plays serial killer Paul Spector and Gillian Anderson (who also has Irish roots) playing the detective, following his every step in hopes of capturing him before he moves onto his next victim.
The show which first aired in May 2013 until October 2016 took the world by storm with its compelling viewing and fantastic writing. The game of cat and mouse unfolding on the screen kept the show going for three great seasons.
It’s one Irish TV show that you’ll quickly be hooked on after the first episode with dark yet believable characters that are very intriguing, to say the least.
Famous Irish TV Shows #6: Moone Boy
Irish sit-com co-created and written by Boyle man Chris O’Dowd tells the semi-autobiographical story of O’Dowd’s life. Produced for Sky One, Chris plays the imaginary friend of one Martin Paul Moone, growing up in the countryside of Boyle, Co. Roscommon in the late 80’s.
A surreal, light hearted yet heartfelt comedy, Moone Boy is a nice change of pace from grizzly crime shows or overwhelming dramas we have become so accustomed to on the small screen. Internationally, Moone Boy won an Emmy for Best Comedy as well as an IFTA for best entertainment programme. A whimsical and relatable Irish TV Show, Moone Boy is an ideal binge-watch!
Famous Irish TV Shows #7: Kilinaskully
Filmed in Co. Tipperary, Kilinaskully is set in the fictional town of the same name and focuses on the peculiar individuals who inhabit the small rural town, many of whom resemble Pat Shortt.
Shortt plays 5 characters on the show including Dan the Man Clancy, the main character and a regular at the local pub, as well as Goretti; resident power-walker and all round modern woman. He also plays councillor Willie Power, Pa Connors and Louis Cantwell
The show plays on stereotypes of Irish people in the countryside to perfection, creating obvious caricatures of outdated village stereotypes.
Created by Shortt in 2004, 5 seasons of the show ran until 2008. To this day RTÉ has repeated the show many times.
Famous Irish TV Shows #8: The Hardy Bucks
Originally a YouTube web series, The Hardy Bucks was picked up by RTÉ who ran 4 seasons from 2010-2018. The Mockumentary style show was so successful that in 2013 The Hardy Bucks Movie was released, and became the most successful Irish movie of 2013.
Set in Swinford Co. Mayo, the story follows the adventures of a group of young Irishmen in small town Ireland with ambitions that don’t stretch much further than having the craic.
Famous Irish TV Shows #9: The Late Late Toy Show
For many Irish people, the Late Late Toy Show was something that they waited for all year long as a child. The show often gained the biggest views around Ireland each year. It is the annual Christmas edition of the Irish chat show ‘Late Late Show’ hosted by Ryan Tubridy.
Many generations of Irish families, grew up sitting around the living room watching the Late Late Toy Show, something that would become a favourite tradition of many households as the unofficial start of the Christmas Countdown. The show features the latest Christmas toys and trends as reviewed by children, as well as a a variety of children performing, dancing, and meeting their heroes.
This family fun show is a much-loved treasure that holds a special place in the heart of Irish people, who watch it all around the world. The old TV trope ‘never work with children or animals’ is turned on it’s head as some of the funniest and most talented personalities of the year are found in the little toy reviewers and performers!
Famous Irish TV Shows #10: Mrs. Brown Boys
Finally, we have this Irish-British sitcom starring everyone’s favourite Irish man Brendan O’ Carroll. Filmed in a BBC studio in Scotland, it is very much an Irish production in every aspect, from the writing, set, humour and characters.
The show follows the life of loud-mouthed and opinionated Irish Mother Agnes Brown played by O’Carroll, whose favourite thing to do is meddle in the lives of her six children. It became an instant hit for the BBC, as the audience just couldn’t get enough of foul-mouthed Agnes Brown, her family drama and the distinct Irish culture.
Although often attacked by critics, this Irish TV show has become a huge hit in Ireland and the UK as well as growing in popularity in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The show has even been adapted into a stage show that’s performed around Ireland and the UK as well as debuting as a feature film in 2014 as ‘Mrs Browns Boys D’movie.’
Whether the critics are right or not, the views and commercial success tell us a different story, Mrs Brown’s Boys offers a parody of the traditional Irish matriarch played out in front of a live audience, where you can laugh along especially when actors are put on the spot by O’Carroll who is only delighted for the chance to improvise!
Bonus TV Show #11: Game of Thrones
Although not an Irish tv show. Game of Thrones was filmed around Ireland and in particular Northern Ireland.
- Castle Ward, Co. Down AKA Winterfell.
- Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down AKA the forest where Nightwalkers and Direwolf pups were spotted.
- Sallagh Braes, The Glens of Antrim, Co. Antrim, AKA Part of the Riverland’s.
- The Dark Hedges Ballymoney, Co. Antrim AKA The Kings Road.
- Bonus location: Glass of Throne Attraction, Belfast.
Game of Thrones was created by David Benoff and was based on the novels by George R.R Martin. Set in the fictional world of Westeros and Essos, the characters battle to take control of the kingdom.
The success of the show was unlike anything else, taking the world by storm and although its ending disappointed a lot of fans in 2019, it was still the most-watched TV show across streaming services in 2020. After eight seasons, fans can still come to Northern Ireland and explore the famous sites of the series.
Ireland isn’t short of impressive TV shows that are gripping, funny, dramatic and everything in-between.
Let us know if we missed out on your favourite Irish TV Show or if you love one of the shows mentioned in the comments below.
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