"Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job, 'Biddy' says she 'you're wrong, I'm sure'Ireland, the land of ire. The Irish, or at least Oirish, counterpart to the Violent Glaswegian (when there's even any difference at all). Characters who are Irish or are of Irish descent are often portrayed as being fond of physical confrontation; even in a work where violence is typical, Irish characters will be especially eager for it. Being intoxicated and/or in a bar will often accentuate these tendencies. This can be played many ways. A good-natured Boisterous Bruiser who favors his fists is typical of many recent examples; boxing has a long history in Ireland and among Irish-Americans, and in recent years, Irish boxers have had success at the Olympic Games.. Negative portrayals are more common the farther back you go. More thuggish examples will often carry a shillelagh, a traditional knobby cudgel that has become a symbol of Irish culture as well as its violence. Even darker examples might be remorseless Blood Knights, tyrannical bullies, or terrorist psychopaths. If a Fighting Irishman is or was in the Irish Republican Army expect him to have at least a bit of the Mad Bomber thrown in. This may very slowly be becoming a Discredited Trope; while in the 19th century Irish soldiers did indeed make up a disproportionate number of soldiers in the British and American armies (and are still allowed to join the British Army) times have moved on even if the stereotype hasn't. Ironically, Ireland is one of very few countries to become independent in the 20th century to have never been in an international war. During World War II it remained neutral and turned down a 1949 offer to join NATO. In fact, the Irish military has a good reputation as peacekeepers.note The island also has a low rate of violent crime by international standards.
Biddy gave her a belt in the gob and left her sprawling on the floor
Then the war did soon engage, t'was woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law was all the rage and a row and a ruction soon began"
Biddy gave her a belt in the gob and left her sprawling on the floor
Then the war did soon engage, t'was woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law was all the rage and a row and a ruction soon began"
—Tim Finnegan's Wake, traditional Irish ballad
open/close all folders
- The Trope Namers are the University of Notre Dame's varsity sports teams and their belligerent Leprechaun mascot, who in turn got the name from Father William Corby, who was twice as President of the University of Notre Dame and served with the "The Fighting Sixty-Ninth" 69th New York Infantry Regiment, an Irish regiment during the American Civil War.
Anime and Manga
- In the English dub of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Fujimoto becomes this courtesy of Liam Neeson. He's an odd variation on this trope in that he's not a hot-headed hooligan but a cold, crotchety old man. You could say that he is to the Fighting Irish trope as Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor is to the Violent Glaswegian trope.
- Irish girl Clover in the comic Blue Monday is easily the most violent person in the entire comic.
- Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil is the biggest example of this trope in comics. The son of an Irish-American boxer, "Battlin' Jack" Murdock, Matt Murdock prowls the rooftops of Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood as Daredevil. He's an expert martial artist and boxer, and generally not someone you'd want to face in a fight. Matt is also portrayed as being devoutly Roman Catholic, another famous Irish cultural trait.
- Hellblazer: His native Liverpool being at least as Irish as Boston in places, John Constantine probably counts, although he isn't really much of a scrapper, preferring to let cockney Chas or Violent Glaswegian Header handle that sort of thing. His girlfriend Kit has some boisterous friends, but they're more boozers than bruisers.
- Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, was born to poor Irish immigrants.
- The ex-IRA terrorists of Sin City are a much darker example.
- In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the nation of Hergen is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Ireland and as can be expected takes all the clichés, including this one, Up to Eleven. Shauna O'Hennigan, a local variantion on a theme of Catholic School Girls Rule - and her wider family - are typical of the Fighting Irish of the Disc.
- Even though Liam Neeson rarely plays hot-headed hooligans (except when parodying Oireland stereotypes — see his cameos on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons), he virtually always plays a badass of some stripe. Famous Neeson characters include Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, Bryan Mills in Taken, and Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia. He also played Good Cop/Bad Cop in The LEGO Movie, in which he alternated between a cheerful Officer O'Hara-type (Good Cop) and a ruthless sadist who's closer to this trope (Bad Cop).
- The Boondock Saints: The MacManus brothers get into a Bar Brawl with some Russian mobsters and decide to become Vigilante Men after an epiphany when the morning after said brawl resulted in the mobsters coming into the brothers' apartment to off the brothers, and then it goes towards the rest of the organized crime in Boston.
- Irish-American director John Ford loved this trope, usually playing it in the lovable Boisterous Bruiser variation and frequently involving alcohol.
- In The Quiet Man, everyone is itching for a fight between Thornton and Danaher, and when it finally comes, they all want to join in.
- In Fort Apache you have three, with only the sober Sergeant-Major O'Rourke an aversion.
- In She Wore a Yellow Ribbon they get into fights with fellow rankers from another immigrant group, German-Americans.
- Inverted in Back to the Future Part III: Seamus McFly keeps counseling his future great-great-grandson Marty about staying out of fights and keeping his cool, although this is probably because his own brother Martin was very much the embodiment of this trope. This didn't end well.
Seamus: Martin used to let men provoke him into fighting. He was concerned people would think him a coward if he refused. That's how he got a bowie knife shoved through his belly in a saloon in Virginia City.
- In Braveheart, Wallace's most eagerly violent soldier is Stephen, an Irishman who joined the campaign not for the sake of freedom, but for the chance to kill Englishmen. He's also insane, or deeply religious with a sick sense of humor.
- Crops up in Gone Baby Gone, where a man at the bar in Dorchester where Patrick goes to investigate gets belligerent and refers to him as having an "ass like a Skippy Jar." Amusingly enough, this was a Throw It In! and the man was an actual resident of the area, and Ben Affleck, the director, explains on the commentary that they were actually nervous about whether the residents would take direction or get belligerent for real.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Dum Dum Dugan appears to be an Irishman who'll "always fight" as long as you pick up the tab.
- Far and Away: Lower-class Irish are shown to be rowdy, with a love of wrestling and fighting. The local Irish-American boss is introduced bare-knuckle boxing for fun, and Joseph Donnelly, the male lead, is a young, hot-headed Irish immigrant who brawls his brothers and ends up fighting for money. This is all contrasted with the upperclass Irish, who behave like typical European gentry.
- Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: Man with a gun in the radio station? Not a problem. But as Alan says "He's Irish!"
- Mulvaney, the Irishman among Rudyard Kipling's Soldiers Three (along with Yorkshireman Learoyd and Cockney Ortheris) is certainly a fighter to be reckoned with.
- The title character of Kim, real name: Kimball O'Hara, is the son of a soldier in a fictional Irish regiment, the Mavericks. They also appear in the novel and appear to have a reputation in tune with this trope, although it really only comes to the for in one brief scene.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith, Journalist, the main characters climb onto a rooftop in New York City to fend off some gangsters. A crowd of Irishmen instantly gathers on the opposite roof to watch the show.
- Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, whose string of convictions include a number of assaults.
- The Raven Cycle's Ronan Lynch, as well as his older brother Declan and father Niall Lynch, all have rough, combative streaks, raised to love sad ballads and bare knuckle fighting. At one point, Ronan observe that the only person who could beat up a Lynch brother is another Lynch brother.
- In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, a planet that modeled itself after Oireland has this in the package.
Live Action TV
- Burn Notice: Ex-IRA fighter Fiona Glenanne is quick to recommend that any problem be solved by charging in with guns and bombs blazing, especially when it involves children being endangered. Her suggestions usually get shot down in favor of something less conspicuous, but when the firepower's needed Fi is always ready to provide.
Michael: Do you have some explosives?
Fiona: I'm going to pretend you didn't ask that.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus "Bookshop Sketch": 101 Ways to Start a Fight by "an Irish gentleman whose name eludes me."
- Danny Reagan in Blue Bloods. Not so much a Blood Knight as a rather brutal Cowboy Cop.
- The whole Reagan clan is definitely a Badass Family, and the adults all seem to be tough fighters. Lampshaded by Great-Grandpa Reagan who responds to one of the kids wondering about what would happen if an intruder broke into the house by saying "Are you kiddin'? He'll take one look around this table and run the otha' way!"
- In 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy ends up in a fist fight with members of his dysfunctional family in the appropriately titled episode "The Fighting Irish".
- The Colbert Report: Stephen has invoked his Irish heritage several times in connection with his generally aggressive demeanor:
- At the end of his first interview with Chris Mathews, who is also Irish-American, Stephen challenged him to a wrestling match and lost.
- Stephen has stated on multiple occasions that, if he had a Time Machine, he would challenge Oliver Cromwell to a bare-knuckle fistfight on the banks of the River Shannon because "he drove [his] people west of [the river] to farm on rocks and gravel!"
- In Paul Haggis's critically acclaimed and violent EZ Streets, all of the prinicpal characters are Irish-American.
- Saturday Night Live: Patrick Fitzwilliam and William Fitzpatrick,note hosts of "Top O' the Mornin'", regularly punched walls.
- In Law & Order, Logan, an Irish cop has the worst temper of almost any of the detectives, and he ends up punching a city councilman and getting reassigned, leaving the main series.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Shore Leave", Kirk's old Academy classmate Finnegan (or rather a simulacrum of him on the planet the Enterprise visited in the episode) fits this trope as he gives Kirk a hard time taunting him into a fight.
- Sons of Anarchy has several examples, but Jax Teller bare-knuckle fighting in Belfast is particularly memorable.
- American Gods: Mad Sweeney, the very Irish leprechaun, wastes little time before challenging Shadow to a fight. Turns out Sweeney was hired by Wednesday to make sure Shadow could fight if it was necessary - and possibly catharsis for Sweeney feeling guilty about his hand in Laura's death.
- The ballad "Finnegan's Wake." A fight at a wake leads to the whiskey spilling over the corpse. Being Irish, he immediately rises from the dead to get at the whiskey and joins the fray.
- The Garryowen is a song all about drinking and fighting, and fighting and...drinking. And fighting.note
- The Dropkick Murphys have several songs with this theme, including "Take 'Em Down" "Going Out In Style" and "Cruel", which contains this line:
I was young and I thought I knew everything
It's so hard to change a fool's mind
When you're stubborn by nature and quick to the draw
And you're full of inherited pride
- The chorus of "The Irish Drinking Song" by Buck-O-Nine (commonly misattributed to the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly) consists of "We drink and drink and drink and drink and drink and drink and fight" over and over again.
- The protagonist of "Clancy Lowered the Boom."
Now Clancy was a peaceful man
If you know what I mean,
The cops picked up the pieces
After Clancy left the scene,
He never looked for trouble
That's a fact you can assume,
But never-the-less when trouble would press
Clancy lowered the boom!
- Ireland's National Anthem "Amhrán na bhFiann"/"A Soldier's Song". Now, to be fair, a lot of national anthems are partially or entirely about how incredibly good the country in question is at war. Ireland's is still in the "entirely" category, being about how much Irish people fight and that's it.
In valley green, on towering crag
Our fathers fought before us
And conquered 'neath the same old flag
That's proudly floating o'er us
We're children of a fighting race
That never yet has known disgrace
And as we march, the foe to face
We'll chant a soldier's song
- Horslips, in The Book of Invasions, take the primal myth of how the Irish came to Ireland and set it to music. The key song ''The Power And The Glory", with its Ominous Pipe Organ theme, has the lines
not so much teachers as fighters, and what we teach is how to fight!
- The Horslips, in their retelling of Irish primal legend The Tain, assert that the one thing which will persist past the end of all other things is the Irish tendency to violence and bloodshed. note
You can hear me shout,Two heads are better than one, a hundred heads are so much better than none!
- The Tain is a retelling of the great primal war between the kingdoms of Ireland; the song from which the above lines are taken is called Dearg Dhu, celebrating the deeds of the great fighting warrior and hero Cu Chullain.
- Finlay, who "loves to fight", embodied the fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser side of this trope, even as he knocked people out with his shillelagh.
- "The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus represented the more villainous side, as he is willing to inflict serious injuries through underhanded means. After his Heel–Face Turn he's stopped using sneaky tactics and trying to cause permanent injuries, but he can still project serious menace when he wants.
- Fergal Devitt now known as "Finn Balor" is a more downplayed example. He doesn't seem to be particularly belligerent, and his Irish descent accentuates his fighting instead of being the reason for it.
- WWE Diva Becky Lynch, the "Lass Kicker", and first Smackdown Women's Champion, hails from Dublin, Ireland.
- Irish Whip Wrestling, surprisingly, boasts an alumni that includes more than a few proud fighting men, and women, and maybe a bear. Though it also boasted its fair share of fighting anti Irish.
- "The Fighting Irish" is the Red Baron of Rhia O'Reilley, who's gotten chants of "Finlay's Daughter" at nCw Femme Fatales.
- This bit from George Carlin:
I notice at Jewish weddings they break glass. You ever been to an Irish wedding? Glasses, bottles, mirrors, tables, chairs, arms, legs, the band instruments, and the groom's neck. We don't fuck around. Mazel tov!
- Carlin would also muse that only an ethnic group that was simultaneously so proud and so naive as the Irish could support the concept of "The fighting Irish". As he put it, "How long do you think a name like 'The Bargaining Jews' or 'The Murdering Italians' would have lasted?"
- Denis Leary once jokingly wrote a newspaper column about how his Irish friends and relatives intended to celebrate St. Patrick's Day: by getting drunk and beating the shit out of each other. The Irish Anti-Defamation League issued a press release threatening a lawsuit for perpatuating the stereotype, but nothing more ever came of it. The reason why, according to Leary, was "They realized that all I would have to do is call NBC and request footage from any St. Patrick's Day parade since the invention of the television camera, and there would be scores of my Irish brethren, drunkenly beating the shit out of each other."
- Aran Ryan in the Punch-Out!! series, with the added bonus of being an utter lunatic willing to cheat.
- Commandos: Jack "The Butcher" O'Hara is a prime example, being the resident Blood Knight and One-Man Army.
- In Bioshock Infinite, most of the Vox Populi militants who aren't black are Irish, and they are indeed quite violent.
- Given his condition by the time you meet him, Father Gascoigne fits this trope pretty well in Bloodborne.
- Grand Theft Auto IV: Patrick McReary is a Hot-Blooded heir to an Irish Mob family. He later shows up in Grand Theft Auto V, where he's one of the best gunmen you can recruit for heists.
- In Fallout 4, the companion Cait is a Fiery Redhead with a Scot Ireland accent who is inexplicably in 200-years-post-apocalyptic Boston long after intercontinental travel is largely impossible (though given that it's set in Boston, the inexplicable part might be that she's the only character with that accent). She's a successful prize cage fighter who is sadly starting to succumb to Psycho addiction. Helping her get clean without killing herself is her personal quest.
- In The Saboteur, hot-headed and hot-tempered Sean Devlin (complete with hilarious Oireland accent) becomes a member of the resistance in Nazi-occupied France and solves all his problems with violence.
- River City Ransom: Underground as the red-haired and freckled Mike, who likes to fight very dirty and his standard stance even is putting up his fists an old-school Irish boxer.
- In Fate/stay night, the various mythological heroes usually have their own reasons for jumping into the Holy Grail War. Naturally, Cu Chulainn, Ireland's Man of light, is in it for a good fight.
- The prequel novel Fate/Zero features another Irish Lancer, Diarmuid of the Love Spot, a hero from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology, who carves up legions of demonic terrors and fights Berserker hand-to-hand. Unlike Cu Chulainn, he's not in it for a fight, however, and while he likes fighting as much as any other Servant he's not unusually fond of it.
- Fate/Grand Order has made it into something of a running gag that Celtic Servants (especially those from the Ulster Cycle) are insatiable Blood Knights with a flippant attitude towards violence and death (up to and including their own), that no one else can quite seem to get their heads around. After encountering Cu Chulainn's teacher, Scathach, the protagonist goes as far as to declare that Celts are crazy by default.
- Roark "Rocky" Rickaby and his cousin Calvin "Freckles" McMurray from the webcomic Lackadaisy both show shades of this. Ethnically, they are at the very least Irish-American, with Rocky possessing a slight brogue that is mostly seen when making use of various Irish idioms and phrases in his speech. In terms of fighting spirit, Rocky is never one to turn down a challenge and is a bit...fond of using fire at times while Freckles is more reserved and polite....at least until you hand him a gun.
- The Simpsons:
Kent Brockman: Drunkenness, fighting, destruction of property: are these really the qualities we associate with the Irish?
- In one of the St. Patrick's Day episodes, Springfield's Protestant and Catholic Irish populations remember how much they hate each other when they aren't allowed to drink. Cue orgy of violence.
- Another St. Patrick's Day episode, "Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment" where Bart inadvertantly touches off a riot:
Principal Skinner: Yes, Seamus, 90 minutes of watching a man drink in a bathtub. Well, I think we should try the Springfield Speaker's Bureau. [leans out window] Seamus, uh, we won't need you to speak anymore.Seamus: What?! [looks at Willie] Oh, this is your doing, Willie. I'll turn your groin to pudding!Willie: Oh, you speak like a poet, but you punch like one, too![Seamus and Willie start fighting]
- In "I Am Furious (Yellow)", Springfield Elementary School budget is so low that they'd resorted to using Groundskeeper Willie and his archnemesis Groundskeeper Seamus as guest speakers.
Milhouse: Look out, Itchy. He's Irish!
- Bart and Milhouse watch an old Itchy and Scratchy cartoon from The Silent Age of Animation, titled "Manhattan Madness." The cartoon features a segment in which "Itchy runs afoul of an Irishman."
- Family Guy:
- Drunken violence is portrayed as a standard evening's entertainment when Peter travels to Ireland to find his real father.
- Parodied when Chris compares the gas induced by his mother's vegetables to an Irish Bar Brawl in his intestines; the Brussels sprout and broccoli argue with Irish accents and fight in front of a crowd of onlookers.
- King of the Hill: Peggy rallies the school cheerleaders to beat up a version of the opposing team's Irish mascot by stereotyping as much as possible. Afterward, the act is treated as a hate crime.
- Coach John McGuirk from Home Movies is Irish-American, an alcoholic, frequently aggressive and sometimes violent, and is stated on multiple occasions to have a criminal record.