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Officer O'Hara

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"And to his left is your typical drunken, oafish police chief with his hat on crooked, most likely named Barney O’Blarney or Patrick O’Hallorahanfitzmichael or something like that."

In every police precinct, you'll have several stereotypical types of cops. The most common of these will always be the O'Hara, the cop with the whimsical Irish accent who usually stands on the sidelines, offering recycled stereotypical quips about St. Patrick and the green hills of Oireland.

This sort of officer rarely, if ever, resorts to force when dealing with a perp, but may visibly carry a nightstick. He will often have an impressive mustache.

Historically this was Truth in Television in many places in the English-speaking world. The original British police force was the Royal Irish Constabulary and it formed the basis for departments throughout Britain and the Empire, the first 2 commissioners of London's Metropolitan Police both ex-RIC men. The RIC also began the custom of law enforcement as a family tradition, sons of RIC officers being given preferential treatment in recruitment, allowed an inch off the regulation height (5'08) and a year off the minimum age. Police departments in American cities like New York (around 1900, five-sixths of the NYPD was Irish), Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore were disproportionately staffed by Irish immigrants.note  (This is the oft-cited reason why a police van was colloquially known as a "Paddy Wagon".note ) A large wave of Irish immigration during the 19th century coincided with the time when major cities started establishing "professional" police forces, and police work was one of the few jobs open to Irish immigrants at the time. In Real Life, police forces offer many opportunities for recent immigrants, and they sign up, partly to protect their own people. This was exacerbated by the violence surrounding the partition of Ireland between 1916-23 which saw the murder of hundreds of police officers, many resigning and emigrating to join forces abroad, especially in America. Because early police work closely resembled thuggery, it was not a prestigious position, and because poorly-paid police were vulnerable to corruption, the police were widely despised. It did not take long for the urban police and The Irish Mob to become partners.

Mostly a Discredited Trope these days. Of course, Irish-American cops still show up frequently (noticeably in The Departed in which nearly all the cop characters are Boston Irish — and all of the criminals are part of The Irish Mob), but the just-off-the-boat accent and whimsy are long gone — except somewhat in Historical Fiction. In modern works, Irish-American officers might be following in the footsteps of several generations of police families and/or trying to live up to a parent who died in the line of duty. Additionally, in many modern works, cops in big-city police departments on the East Coast are often portrayed as being honorarily Irish even if they are not of actual Irish descent — which, given the extensive adoption of Irish customs within these departments (particularly wakes for fallen officers and fake wakes for retired ones) is more or less Truth in Television (see The Wire for a good example: the Baltimore P.D. is one of those departments; also, many NYCPD-focused shows will have this element show up).note 

The modern version of this trope could be called the "Officer Hernandez", as Hispanic recruits often make up a disproportionate amount of new hires in modern-day American police departments and security guard jobs. In some places, such as Miami-Dade, Hispanic officers even make up a majority of the local police force. The reasons for this are remarkably similar to why the Irish-American policeman of the past came to be, in that police work is difficult and unloved, but offers plenty of opportunities for upwards social mobility that make them appealing to recent immigrants.

Compare Irish Priest, the other stereotypically Irish profession in American fiction. Obviously a case of People Sit on Chairs if the work is actually set in Ireland.

Not to be confused with police officers in the Republic of Ireland, who are called gardaí (singular garda) and colloquially known as "guards".


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  • Officer Clancy in this vintage Australian ad for Fanta.
  • Frankenberry met a cop like this in one commercial where he was terrified of the Ghost Marshmallows in his cereal. ("What's with all the childish hankie-pankie, Frankie?" says the officer.)
  • Officer Crumb from the Cookie Crisp commercials is a caricature of the Trope.
  • Anther parody is Officer Big Mac from old '70s McDonald's commercials.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The first American dub of Rurouni Kenshin had the cops sporting Irish accents; fortunately this tested so poorly that it went back for redubbing before the commercial release.
  • Patlabor fell into this trope more or less by accident (there is no evidence they did the research), by giving their (half) Japanese-American New York Cop the very Irish (and noted) name of Clancy, Kanuka Clancy (a Shout-Out to Tom Clancy). It helped a lot of fans with the Fridge Logic of why someone from Hawaii would join the NYPD.
  • In the English dub of SD Gundam Force, one of the mobile police officers in Neotopia has a distinctly Irish accent.

    Board Games 
  • In Monopoly, Officer Edgar Mallory is the one who hauls Rich Uncle Pennybags off to jail when a player lands on the "Go to Jail" space, rolls 3 consecutive doubles, or draws a "Go to Jail" card from either the Chance or Community Chest decks.

    Comic Books 
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: Comics where Mickey Mouse is a detective (often Mickey's on-again, off-again freelance job) have a beefy uniformed police chief named O'Hara as Mickey's boss. He originally appeared with an accent, though in the 1960s it was dropped. In a few later cartoons (notably on House of Mouse), O'Hara did appear with an accent. And it's back, too, in most new comics produced since the 1990s. It must be noted that with or without the accent, Mickey's O'Hara is a competent, long-suffering cop whose real problem isn't his own weakness — it's that his chief of detectives, Mr. Casey, is an overconfident blunderer (whom Mickey has inadvertently upstaged many times, leading to a friendly rivalry).
  • Little Lulu features Clarence McNabb who is depicted as a truant officer in early installments, and as a regular patrolman in the 1990s animated series.
  • The O'Dare family in Starman is third generation Irish-American and third generation police. Hope, the only daughter, is particularly proud of her heritage, complete with a love of Irish cuisine and Celtic music and a hatred for the English.
  • X-Men Noir is set in 1937, and Chief Eric Magnus is an Eastern European immigrant cop who is bitter over being discriminated against by the Irish-American cops who dominate the NYCPD; he claims he failed the Sergeant's Exam three times just because he doesn't have a shred of Irish heritage. It's never explicitly spelled out, but it's notable that none of the members of his clandestine "Brotherhood" are Irish, either.
  • In the Spirou & Fantasio album Luna fatale (which features a Mafia/Tong war), all NYC policemen have Irish names.
  • In Batman: Dark Victory, Clancy O'Hara was Gotham Police Chief at the beginning of the story. He's the first victim of the Hangman murders.

    Comic Strips 
  • Chief O'Reilly from the Bananaman comic book and animated series, who was a parody/homage of Chief O'Hara from Batman.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Prison Guard O'Hara in the case of The Big House and Pop Riker the guard. Pop is the more sympathetic, good-hearted guard, in contrast to the cruel and not-Irish Marlowe.
  • Irish cops aplenty in the movie Blown Away, set in present-day Boston. To judge from this movie, it seems that the Boston Police Department recruits solely from those fresh off the potato boat from Ireland.
  • In Brannigan, John Wayne portrays Lt. Jim Brannigan, an Irish-American officer with the Chicago police department, who goes to London to extradite a gangster who is being held for ransom. Brannigan experiences a culture clash when meeting the British police, using methods considered unorthodox by British police standards, with a conflict involving Commander Swann regarding Brannigan's use of a .38 Colt Diamondback revolver.
  • Subverted by Officer Jones in Bridesmaids as actor Chris O'Dowd uses his native accent even though he's playing a Wisconsin state trooper, since the production crew liked it too much.
  • Officer Mulroney (the ultra-Irish-looking John C. Reilly) in Gangs of New York is a former Irish gang member who fought with an axe. He now works for Nativist gang leader Bill "The Butcher" of the Natives.
    Mulroney: [as he tries to kill Vallon] Ach, do ye remember yer fadda, lad. Ooh, the toimes we had...
  • Deadly Hero (1975) has Don Murray as one of these-an Irish-American-as one of New York City's not-so-finest who fatally shoots a surrendering criminal then tries terrorizing the crook's victim out of testifying against the so called titluar "hero".
  • Fort Apache, The Bronx stars Paul Newman as a third generation New York City police officer who's this (after his father and grandfather before him).
  • Gentlemen Explorers: The copper who arrests Riley and the Magician at the brothel has what was probably intended to be an Irish accent, but quickly becomes What the Hell Is That Accent?
  • The Godfather: Captain Mark McCluskey, whose father was a police captain as well.
  • Going My Way features Officer McCarthy as the local Irish beat cop, but since there's an Irish Priest in the parish church and seemingly most of the older people in the neighborhood are Irish immigrants, it's natural enough.
  • The Green Hornet Serials: Mike Axford was this trope until he retired and became Britt's bodyguard. Several of his buddies on the force fit here as well.
  • Hoodlum provides an example with Captain Foley's character. Crooked type.
  • In Johnny Dangerously, Alan Hale Jr.'s character was one of these.
  • In The Killer That Stalked New York, a 1950 film Very Loosely Based on the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak, there's Officer Houlihan, who brings a young woman to Dr. Wood's clinic after she almost fainted out on the streets. Dr. Wood and his nurse discuss this, making it clear by briefly imitating Houlihan's accent that they don't agree with Houlihan's assessment that the patient needed immediate medical attention. What they don't know is that this woman is Sheila Bennet, Patient Zero for the smallpox outbreak.
    Dr. Wood: Another emergency?
    Nurse: She fainted.
  • In L.A. Confidential, Captain Dudley Smith is this complete with the off-the-boat accent and stereotypical expressions.
  • Several Irish-American policemen and other civil servants appear in the John Ford film The Last Hurrah, most notably at Knocko Minihan's wake, when the Irish-surnamed officer assures Mayor Frank Skeffington that "The whole precinct is behind you".
  • Little Annie Rooney: A silent film can't demonstrate Officer Rooney's ethnicity with accents, so the title cards have him say stuff like, "'Tis proud I am."
  • In A Matter of Life and Death, the Irish member of the original Jury of the Damned is swapped out for an American when the defence objects. Specifically, he is swapped out for an Irish-American cop played by the same actor.
  • No God, No Master: William Flynn, the Irish American main character who's an agent with the Bureau of Investigation at the US Justice Department.
  • One Good Cop has Michael Keaton's titluar character's (Arthur 'Artie' Lewis) commanding officer, 'Lt. Danny Quinn' (Kevin Conway), as one of these, but a more understanding one when he finds out why Lewis committed the robbery on the drug dealers that his squad and a state undercover agent were investigating.
  • Parodied in The Other Guys during the scene in the Irish bar.
  • Played for laughs in the 2005 version of The Producers (which is set in 1958, when this trope had already become irrelevant in Real Life). Two NYCPD cops with very thick stereotypical Irish brogues come to investigate goings-on in Max's apartment and discover Max and Leo Bloom's "cooked books" from their fraud scheme. Also, Max tries to bluff his way past the cops by assuming a ridiculous parody of a brogue in which his voice keeps getting higher and higher.
  • Q & A has Nick Nolte as one of these, a murderous bigoted tool of an ambitious Homicide Bureau chief and who sees himself as a "line" that keeps minorities downtrodden and subordinate.
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me: More plot-relevant than this trope usually is. There's ethnic tension between the Irish beat cops and the local residents of New York City's Little Italy. One Irish cop calls Rocky Graziano a "greaseball".
  • In Superman: The Movie, the first two Metropolis police officers to encounter the Man of Steel are straight examples of this trope.
  • Subverted in Super Troopers; Captain John O'Hagan (played by a Scotsman) of the Vermont State Police is probably the most competent and serious member of his department. In fact, he's probably the most competent and serious officer in the whole movie. He also takes a moment to mock the trope by briefly adopting a brogue and saying the following line when one of his men is trying to pull a fast one on him:
    I'll believe ya when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet.
  • Irish-American James Cagney has a great scene in the 1932 Warner Bros. film Taxi, in which he launches into an extended conversation in Yiddish in the presence of an Irish cop.
  • Played with in Two If By Sea: FBI Agent O'Malley is African-American, and it becomes a Running Gag that everyone is surprised to find out that he's not Irish when they first meet him.
  • Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables (1987), who was completely and utterly invented for the movie. The real Eliot Ness knew what he was doing from the start, and didn't need a wise mentor to show him the ropes but apparently, that wouldn't be dramatic enough. Also, Sean Connery is not Irish, no matter what the other characters say.

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn features a cop named Michael McShane.
  • Sgt. Murphy in Richard Scarry's Busytown books.
  • Paddy in Make Way For Ducklings.
  • Stephen King featured Irish police officer Aloysius Nell in It, down to the Batmanesque "Chief O'Hara" accent. One of Richie's funny voices in the same story is also the Irish Cop.
    • Officer Nell shows up in other King stories set in that area, too.
  • There's a scene in H. P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark" where the protagonist is researching a local desecrated chapel and is told that all the Catholics in the area know the story behind it. So he asks the nearest police officer, "a great wholesome Irishman."
    • Det. Thomas Malone in "The Horror at Red Hook" is another one, "tall, heavily built, and wholesome-looking," "large, robust, normal-featured, and capable-looking", pragmatic but with a mystical, poetic streak attributed to his Celtic heritage.
  • Deconstructed in Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities. Prosecutor Larry Kramer observes that all NYCPD officers eventually adopt the Irish persona regardless of their ethnic background, and how he, too, a Jew, had learned to be "as Irish as they come" when visiting crime scenes.
  • Captain Dudley Smith may seem like this in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet but is in reality something very different.
  • Roald Dahl wrote a short story in which a wealthy New York City couple, having forgotten their keys, attempt to break into their own house — and are promptly shot dead by a gang of Irish cops.
  • The Cabinet of Curiosities features NYPD officer Patrick "Paddy" O'Shaughnessey, who is described as having "probably the most Irish name in New York." The book then goes on to subvert the trope at every turn, making him a boon to the investigation, a guy with a standard New York City accent, and a lover of opera.
  • Invoked in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games when Jack Ryan tells the Queen that Irish Americans have a tradition of being the forces of order — cops, firefighters, and clergy, especially — and nowadays, the most famous Irish in the world are terrorists, something Jack is certain his father, Officer Ryan, wouldn't have liked at all. "He spent his whole working life taking animals like that off the street and putting them in cages where they belong."
  • Julius Cohan in Tales from Gavagan's Bar.
    • From the Harold Shea series (by the same authors), there's Pete Brodsky, a.k.a. "the synthetic harp". As his last name suggests, he's not Irish at all, but he has deliberately adopted a thick brogue and the stereotypical mannerisms of the Irish cop. As he explains to the main character, the police department he's in is overwhelmingly Irish — including all the higher-ups — and that means if you aren't Irish, you'll stay a beat cop your whole career.
  • The Betsy series by Carolyn Haywood features a friendly red-headed policeman named Mr. Kilpatrick. At one point he talks about his granny in Ireland.
  • Karrin Murphy of The Dresden Files is a Chicago cop, the scion of a large clan of cops and has a very Irish surname. Officers Thomas Malone and Ronald Carmichael are two of her co-workers.
  • The Past Doctor Adventures novel Illegal Alien, which transposes a number of American hardboiled detective tropes to Britain, plays with it by having a Northern Irish Chief Inspector in the Met, who says things like "Saints preserve us", but also suspects all Irish-Americans of being IRA sympathisers.
  • Craig Shaw Gardner's Cineverse Cycle has the helpful Officer O'Clanrahan, companion to the astounding Dwight the Wonder Dog. He eventually turns out to be secretly working with Doctor Dread because he's tired of playing sidekick to a dog, but by the end, he's changed his mind and repents his evil ways.
  • Officer Garroway in The Small Bachelor by P. G. Wodehouse, which is set in New York City. When Waddington goes in search of Garroway to attempt to buy back some shares he sold him, he can't remember Garroway's name; only that it was something Irish. As a result, he ends up encountering an endless succession of other policemen with Irish names.
  • American Gods: When Mr. Wednesday teaches Shadow about his favorite cons, he mentions one involving him playing a police officer with "a broad, honest Irish face" and a fresh-off-the-boat music-hall accent two miles thick.
  • That Hideous Strength: The evil organization N.I.C.E. uses a paramilitary police force to take over Edgestow, England. It is composed of mostly immigrants, including Captain O'Hara from Dublin. He is only seen a few times and doesn't engage in the brutality and torture that the other officers do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The finale of 9/11 (a documentary about the September 11th attacks) shows a picture of each of the firemen and policemen who died in the Twin Towers. The musical accompaniment was "Danny Boy," which fit because an enormous amount of them were Irish.
  • Captain Connor in The Alienist is an Irish policemen in late 1800s New York City.
  • All in the Family has occasional episodes of this, ex. Season 4's "The Taxi Caper" (1973)
  • Batman (1966):
    • Chief O'Hara is probably one of the more famous O'Haras. He also appeared in the comics, first mentioned slightly after the show's debut, but not actually appearing on-panel until well into the 1970s. He has appeared sporadically in later years, though usually not as part of the main Batman continuity.
    • One episode (Marsha, Queen of Diamonds) had seven cops named O'Hara, Douglas, O'Malley, O'Toole, O'Leary, O'Reilly, and Goldberg.
  • Blue Bloods: The Reagan family is of Irish descent (with new Mayor Carter Poole even calling Frank a "white Irish cop" in the Season 2 premiere), but the trope is otherwise averted quite handily.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • The Thompsons are Irish-Americans, with Nucky serving as Sheriff Lindsay's deputy, and later as Sheriff in the Atlantic City political machine run by the Commodore, before becoming the county treasurer. His brother Eli follows him as Sheriff, which he retains until he's forced out at the end of season 2 for his part in the Commodore's conspiracy to overthrow Nucky.
    • Season 5 features a fictionalized version of Mike Malone, an Irish-American treasury agent who gets into Al Capone's inner circle by pretending to be an Italian named Mik
  • Brooklyn Bridge (1991-1993) has James Naughton's recurring 'Lt. Patrick Monahan' character as such-one of New York City's finest of its 1950's timeframe.
  • Brooklyn South (1997-1998) have several, both younger officers and veterans, that fit this ethnicity.
  • Copper is justified since it takes place in 1864. The rank-and-file police officers shown are first generation immigrants who were born in Ireland. The police officer protagonists are named Corcoran, Maguire, and O'Brien. Corcoran even Lampshades the fact that their captain is as Irish as they are but the captain's father dropped the 'O' from O'Sullivan when they arrived in America.
  • Castle:
    • Downplayed Trope with Kevin Ryan. He doesn't have the accent and is at least one generation, possibly more, removed from Ireland. Still, references to his Irish heritage crop up now and again, such as being raised Catholic and having gone undercover with an Irish-American gang in his earlier years.
    • And in "The Blue Butterfly", one of the heavies in the 1940s diary story that set the scene was an Irishman, complete with calling everyone "boy-o"...whom Castle imagines as Ryan.
  • CSI: NY averts it. Mac may be part Irish, and Flack is Irish, but they don't fall into the trope.
    • Mac is part Welsh on his mother's side, per episode 8.18, "Near Death."
  • The Electric Company (1971): Jim Boyd and Skip Hennant play, as par for the show, ineffectual versions of this.
  • In The District, Detective McGregor is an actual Irishman who'd immigrated to the US and became a cop.
  • Golden Boy briefly discusses it in one episode. Walter's sister Agnes asks Detective Deb McKenzie if there's any bigger cliche in New York City than a waitress wanting to make it big:
    Deb: (gesturing at herself) Irish cop?
  • Harry and Paul sends it up with Officers O'Malley-Mulligan-Hoolagey and O'Pat-Eddery-Flannery-Hoonigan in "The Cops" sketch:
    "I come from a small place in Ireland where everyone's a cop. Even the cops are cops."
  • Hawaii Five-O (both versions). Averted with Steve McGarrett.
  • The Job: The protagonist is an Irish-American police officer in modern-day New York City. Both he and his fellow officers often mention and light-heartedly make fun of his Irish heritage.
  • Law & Order: Detectives Greevey and Logan from season 1 are both Irish-American, as is ADA Stone (and later Jack McCoy, and judging from a crack made about her, ADA Kincaid as well). Inevitably, there's an episode involving The Troubles.
  • Law & Order: UK: DS Matt Devlin (Logan's Expy). However, it never becomes an issue, except in one scene where he references his heritage in order to gain the trust of a young prostitute he's questioning, and another where he mentions being hassled about it during his rookie years, "They called me "mick" for the first six months because my family are Irish". Despite the UK setting, this is about as close as a reference to The Troubles as we've gotten.
  • The Lois & Clark episode "Fly Hard" involves an extended How We Got Here Flashback to the Prohibition era with the regulars playing the characters in the flashback. This means the cop in the flashback is Irish, fond of alcohol, and on the take. The cop is being played by Lane Smith, the actor who plays Perry White, and let's just say Smith's genial Southern good-ol'-boy drawl (his normal voice for Perry) is a bit more convincing than his Officer O'Hara-style Irishman.
  • Murder, She Wrote
    • Jessica's Friend on the Force in the episode "Unwilling Witness" is a man named Sean Riley with a strong Irish accent.
    • One "Jessica's friends" Poorly-Disguised Pilot was "O'Malley's Luck", about an NYPD lieutenant so Irish he actually had a map of Ireland on the wall of his office.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
  • Ohara plays with and averts this trope — "Ohara" (without an apostrophe) is a Japanese name, and the title character, Police Chief Ohara, was played by Pat Morita.
  • O Hara US Treasury: It's in the title.
  • Psych averts it. There is a Detective O'Hara, but that's her name, and she is stated to be Scottish in one episode. Her partner, Carlton Lassiter, is Irish, but he doesn't act like this and isn't native to Ireland. It doesn't help that Timothy Omundson, who plays Lassiter, once played an evil leprechaun in a Disney film.
  • Rescue Me: The Gavin family is almost absurdly proud of being New York City Irish. The family has a tradition of being both cops and firefighters; one of the main drivers of the plot is firefighter Tommy Gavin's recurring nightmare/possible haunting by the ghost of his cop brother Johnny. His other younger brother Timo is also NYPD.
  • Revolution: In "Sex and Drugs", The O'Hallorans, the neighboring family that is burning Drexler's poppy fields, are a long line of such, although the father's primary motivation is personal: Drexel killed his daughter with a heroin overdose.
  • Single Handed is an Irish show about an Irish Garda in Western Ireland.
  • Space Precinct, a "Cops in Space" show made by Gerry Anderson, starred Gary Ewing Ted Shackelford as veteran former New York City cop Patrick Brogan, but the Irish accent came from Captain Podly, an alien played by an actor with a giant puppet head. Ridiculous stereotypical accent aside, Podly was still a perfectly competent cop and got a few badass moments.
  • Super Adventure Team: Chief O'Brien of the NYCPD is a black man with a thick Irish accent.
  • The eleventh season of Survivor had Amy O'Hara, a police sergeant from Boston.
  • Walt Disney Presents: In Michael O'Hara the Fourth, the O'Haras are a multi-generational family of cops. A flashback shows Michael O'Hara the First to have been a stereotypical turn-of-the-century Irish cop.
  • Deconstructed in Warrior (2019), which is set in 1870s San Francisco, and shows exactly how Irish-Americans immigrants - via police departments or The Irish Mob, which are treated as inextricably linked to the point where they're almost interchangeable - were used as a cudgel against Chinese immigrants by the WASP-y robber barons and elites of the day, mainly to keep labor cheap.
  • In The Wire, even though the Baltimore Police Department is racially mixed, with at least half of the officers African-American and another good chunk being Polish, their traditions still have a strongly Irish flavor. For example, they all attend Irish wakes for fallen officers at Kavanaugh's Pub, where Jay Landsman gives a eulogy to the departed and leads everyone in a passionate sing-along to The Pogues' "Body of an American." It's explicitly stated in David Simon's book Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets — on which the show is partially based, that no matter your origin, when you join the Baltimore PD you become "honorary Irish". More directly, several police characters actually are Irish-American, including ostensible lead Jimmy McNulty and the first-season "humps" Polk and Mahon.
  • Since the NYPD is very prominently a feature of the Netflix Marvel shows, a number of cops with Irish ancestry do show up. The second season of The Punisher features one Officer O'Rourke who tries to collect on a bounty on Frank Castle's head to avenge family of his who were in the Kitchen Irish, while Daredevil gives us Brett Mahoney, Foggy Nelson's longtime Friend on the Force.

  • Also regarding The Pogues is their hit Christmas song "Fairytale of New York", whose chorus goes "The boys in the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay" // And the bells were ringin' out for Christmas Day."
    • The Pogues' "Thousands are Sailing", about Irish immigrants to America, asks "Did you work upon the railroad? Did you rid the streets of crime?"
  • Billy Joel's "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" namechecks a certain "Sergeant O'Leary," who works a second job as a bartender so he can afford a fancy car.
  • From all the way back in 1896, Percy French's The Mountains of Mourne has a verse in which the singer (an Irishman gone to London to seek work) encounters his old friend Peter O'Loughlin who is now "the head of the force".
  • The ballad "The Streets of New York" by Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones tells the story of an Irishman from Dublin who moves to New York and becomes a policeman, seemingly following the footsteps of his uncle who lives there.
  • Also in Pat White’s “The Same Old Shilleleagh” the singer announces he will join the police “cause it’s the only thing to do”… but instead off nightstick he will carry the same old shilleleagh his father brought from Ireland.
  • Some older New York City salsa music (1940s) uses local slang that includes the word la jara ("the O'Hara," that is, the cops) which is exactly this trope. Examples:
    • "Ahí viene la jara" ("Here comes the O'Hara"). This appears to have been recorded in Cuba around 1950; the lyrics sing of running and jumping fences to escape "la jara" so they don't catch you.
    • "Te están buscando" by Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe (1969), with the chorus: "Ahí viene la jara y mira dónde va" ("Here comes the O'Hara and watch out where they go").
    • "La jara"" by Orquesta Dee Jay (1970): "Mi pana llegó la jara y se acabó este vacilón" ("Bro, the O'Hara's arrived and this party is over").
    • To bring the trope full circle, there's a modern NYPD salsa orchestra, formed in 2013, named La Jara Band.
  • Cypress Hill's "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" includes the line "Gonna put a slug in Captain O'Malley."

  • Officer O'Ryan fits the trope to a T in Adventures in Odyssey. In fact, he was the town's only cop until the introduction of Captain Quinn.
  • Invoked in The Jack Benny Program whenever they did a mystery sketch: Jack played "that master super-sleuth, Captain O'Benny", and other characters playing his assistants got O's added to their names too: O'Harris, O'Day, O'Wilson... Although when Dennis Day (well-known for his (intentionally cultivated) Irish accent) tried to ham up the role with said, Jack told him to "cut out the dialect".
  • Frequently invoked in the radio show Lights Out. In one episode, "The Author and the Thing," a fictionalized version of the show's lead writer Arch Oboler meets two cops who comment (in Irish accents) that he's "the guy who always makes his cops Irish."

  • In the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation remake of The Producers, three stereotypical Irish cops arrest Max and Leo: O'Rourke, O'Riley, and O'Houllihan, the last of these played by a black man. ("I've heard of black Irish, but this is ridiculous!")
  • Arsenic and Old Lace has wannabe playwright Officer O'Hara, basically competent Officer Brophy, and a few other non-Irish cops.
  • In West Side Story, the Jets repeatedly mock Officer Krupke with a sarcastic "Top o' the day, Officer Krupke!" even though Krupke and his partner (who are presumably not Irish-American, considering his Mitteleurope surname) display none of the trope characteristics.
  • Lieutenant Brannigan from Guys and Dolls.
  • Lonigan in Wonderful Town, who with the other cops launches into a song and jig under the impression that Eileen is Irish, too.
  • The Moon is Blue has Detective-Sergeant Michael O'Neill, Patty's dad. She describes him as being Brooklyn-born but "Irish from way back" and talking in a thick brogue when he gets angry, which he does in the only scene where he appears.

    Video Games 
  • Psychonauts had a Lampshade/parody sequence in the lungfish level, complete with Officer O'Lungfish.
  • This was subverted in Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra with police chief Ryan O'Riley. He had the accent, but was rude, confrontational, constantly suspicious of you, and otherwise anything but whimsical. He was also the killer.
  • Urban Chaos: Riot Response had quite a few Irish cops, including an O'Hara, an O'Shaunassy, and an O'Riley.
  • The first Destroy All Humans! games feature Irish cops.
  • Detective Norman of Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, at least, in the English dub.
  • Francis McReary from Grand Theft Auto IV is a member of an Irish-American crime family who rejected the criminal lifestyle in favor of becoming a cop. Despite looking down on his gangster relatives, he proves to be just as corrupt if not more so than them.
  • James Donnelly of L.A. Noire.
  • The sentry in Oedipus in my Inventory has a bad Irish accent.
  • The Sega Genesis and SNES versions of Monopoly play a speech-clip of an Irish policeman whenever you get out of jail: "Don'cha be comin' back here, now!" The NES version uses a slightly different phrase: "Don't be comin' backs, now!"
  • Parodied in the Neuromancer game where using Coptalk skill allows you to fool a police officer permanently parked in a donut shop by speaking in an incredibly thick Irish accent and idioms.
  • The intro to Mafia II shows the protagonist Vito get arrested by a distinctly Irish police officer on patrol.
  • In The Darkside Detective, the spectral Officer Ghouley has an Irish Funetik Aksent and an impressive moustache, and wears an old-fashioned uniform of the time period when this trope was common.
  • The cops in the first Road Rash have the stereotypically Irish names of O'Rourke, O'Leary, O'Shea, O'Connor, and... Flynn.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In SHED.MOV, one of the cops who bursts into Fluttershy's shed near the end has a red mane (and mustache) and speaks with an Irish accent.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • Parodied in "The Thin White Line", where the Irish cop is actually a Jewish guy named Horowitz who's just good at impressions.
    • Played straight in another episode with a different Irish cop (the one who says "Ohhh... Look at the little baby, Aren't you cute, where's your mommy?" to everyone regardless of age).
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "Bugs and Thugs": Bugs Bunny imitates the voice of an Irish cop to scare his kidnappers, which is then followed by a real Irish cop who shows up and repeats Bugs' words exactly.
    • "Bowery Bugs": Steve Brodie approaches a police officer and says "I'm flippin' me lid! Everybody's turnin' into rabbits!" The officer reveals himself to be Bugs in disguise, who says (in a thick Irish accent) "What's all this about rabbits, Doc?"
    • In a latter-day Daffy Duck/Porky Pig short, Daffy uses the moniker "Sergeant O'Duck". That same short ("Corn on the Cop") also had an Officer Flaherty.
    • in The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Bugs has a roundabout exchange between officers Clancy and Thomas, effecting an Irish accent at the same time.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998), which has shown many cops, has both straight examples and aversions.
  • Johnny Bravo features a couple of Irish-accented cops confronting Johnny and Carol's crab ex-boyfriend Ned at the end of the episode "Date With an Antelope."
  • The Simpsons:
    • There's one that pops up from time to time. He's usually portrayed as a nice and jolly NYPD cop, but he's occasionally seen in Springfield.
    • In "In the Name of the Grandfather", an Irish judge comments that Ireland has gotten nicer since they sent all their incompetent half-wits to America... "Where you, for some reason, made them police officers." Cue Chief Clancy Wiggum entering and accidentally macing and tasering himself.
    • In "Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment", Springfield's St. Patrick's Day parade features a float honoring "2000 Years of Irish Cops."
    • A brief use of the trope in "A Star Is Born Again": Ned has just gotten a date with movie star Sarah Sloane, but doesn't realize who she is until he sees a movie poster that she's on and exclaims about this in surprise. An Irish cop appears out of nowhere to quip unbelievingly about this, then walks off chuckling and twirling his nightstick.
  • Freakazoid! had "Officer Dan", an older cop with an Irish accent frequently seen with his younger partner Muhammad-Abdul.
  • The Futurama film The Beast with a Billion Backs had Fry's newest polyamorous girlfriend who was also the new chief of police with the very Irish name Colleen O'Halahan. Plus she was played by the late Brittany Murphy, who was equally Irish.
  • In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, there was an episode with an Irish cop who persisted in believing the turtles were leprechauns.
  • Justice League: The episode "Legends" sends Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter to a dimension that's one giant silver age pastiche. Naturally, there are exactly two cops in town, both red-haired Irish types with broad accents. After The Reveal, those same cops speak with generic American accents.
  • In Fantastic Four: The Animated Series, a very Irish cop witnesses the Thing and the Hulk duking it out.
    "Saints preserve us!"
    • The show it was paired with, Iron Man: The Animated Series, hewed close to this with their portrayal of Dum-Dum Dugan — depicted as an agent of SHIELD as in the comics. He's mostly annoyed with Iron Man's stunts causing him more and more paperwork.
  • Sergeant Yates, the red-headed cop in South Park, whose wife, Maggie, has the stereotypical immigrant accent.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Cage of Glass". When Brainiac shrinks Metropolis, one of the city police officers is this stereotype.
  • The police officer guarding the entrance to the zoo in Lady and the Tramp fits the mold, down to the Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf: The cop who shows up at the drive-in to investigate the werewolf sightings has a distinct Irish accent.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode "The Scaring of the Green" had two of them. The first was an old cop who was cursed because an ancestor had stolen a leprechaun's pot of gold, and was now being pursued by the Monster of the Week; Ray encountered the second one when he was looking for a four-leaf clover in the park, something believed to repel said monster. When he explained to the cop what he was doing, in full, the guy thought he was making fun of his accent and stuffed him in a trash can.
  • Parodied in the Silly Symphonies short "Who Killed Cock Robin?"
  • Color Classics:
    • "The Fresh Vegetable Mystery" features potato policemen with thick Irish accents.
    • The short "A Kick In Time" has a gag with an Irish police horse appearing.
  • Parodied in the episode "Altruists" of Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" with an African-American Irish police officer.
  • Good Cop from the The LEGO Movie plays this straight, being a ridiculously polite Nice Guy even to people he's supposed to be pursuing. Bad Cop, the other side of his Split Personality, averts this, being as grim and intimidating (for LEGO person) as you might expect by someone voiced by Liam Neeson. We even meet his parents, gentle folk with sweet Irish accents in front of a sweet little cottage, and in an off moment Bad Cop hums "Danny Boy."
  • The classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts are full of Irish cops.
  • Pepper Clark in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) impersonates one during a King Kong-style Imagine Spot in the episode "Spendthrifty", complete with an utterance of "Potatoes potatoes".
  • In Batman: Gotham by Gaslight all Bruce Wayne has to do to fool people into thinking he's a policeman is fake an Irish accent! Also, some of the actual cops in the movie are straight examples of this trope.
  • The Cow and Chicken episode "Black Sheep of the Family" had the Red Guy pretend to be an Irish cop named Officer O'Fannahey.
  • In Frosty the Snowman, the "traffic cop" mentioned in the song has an Irish brogue. He even returns in the sequel, Frosty's Winter Wonderland.
  • The Beatles features one of these policemen in "Hold Me Tight," "Roll Over Beethoven" and "We Can Work It Out." The cop in "Hold Me Tight" is notable for calling George out for not having an American accent after the Beatle profiles a man for being a foreign spy bent on blowing up the Statue of Liberty.

    Real Life 
  • An old (1940s-1970s) slang word for the cops among the Spanish-speaking community in New York City was la jara ("the O'Hara"), which is precisely this trope.
  • While Jimmy Malone may not have existed, he was named for Mike Malone, a federal agent of Irish ancestry who went undercover to bring down Al Capone and managed to get himself ingratiated into Capone's inner circle.

"Move along now, boyos, nothin' ta see here..."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Irish Cop


The Traffic Cop

Frosty encounters the traffic cop, like in the song.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / OfficerOHara

Media sources: