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The Irish Mob
aka: Irish Mob

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"When I was your age they would say we can become cops or criminals."
Frank Costello, The Departed

The Mafia.... BUT IRISH!! No, not slang for the cops. Organized crime, Irish-style.

Like The Mafia and The Mafiya, the Irish Mob is strongly linked with poor immigrant communities. Mostly this means The United States, but they can also pop up in stories set in Britain (perhaps as London Gangsters), as well as back home in Ireland itself.

A distinction should be made between the Irish Mob and groups like the IRA and the INLA. While there is some overlap in fiction (and reality), for the purposes of this trope the Mob are Irish organized criminals motivated primarily by profit rather than the Cause. In settings where both are present, this is a likely bone of contention between two groups that normally start out working together.

The Mob originated in the early 19th century and — until the rise of the Italian and Jewish gangs in the 1880s and later — was the dominating force in New York organized crime. During The Roaring '20s, the Mob was a major player and many gangster movies featured Irish gangsters — famously James Cagney made a career out of playing them, starting with The Public Enemy (1931). Nevertheless, the Irish Mob waned after these years, struggling under competition with the Italian gangs and their own leadership struggles. They also slowly became less necessary: the Irish communities in America and Great Britain gradually assimilated and no longer needed gangs to protect them from disgruntled locals (because they were the disgruntled locals). Not that they ever went away—both in reality and in fiction the Mob has maintained a presence to this day, especially in South Boston.

The Irish Mob is often depicted as more anarchic and "casual" than The Mafia, preferring shabby pubs, flat-caps, and t-shirts to Italian restaurants, fedoras, and two-piece suits. This also has some basis in reality, as one reason why the FBI had such a hard time running down James “Whitey” Bulger’s infamous Winter Hill gang was that, unlike the Mafia, with its well-defined hierarchy and chain of command, the structure of Bulger’s gang was much more fluid, with incarcerated/dead members very easily replaced and operations easily moved or abandoned on short notice.

Boston is especially associated with the Irish Mob, but, as noted above, they can turn up anywhere. Notably in recent years, it's become increasingly popular to set a work with the Irish Mob in Ireland itself.

High chance of featuring Fighting Irish in their ranks. See also: Southies and Irish Explosives Expert.


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    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • While The Long Halloween mostly involves the Italian Mafia, a quartet of Irish gangsters — employed by Carmine Falcone — appear in one chapter.
    • The New 52's rebooted origin for Two-Face features the McKillen family as having been Harvey's bete noir when he was DA. Erin McKillen replaces Sal Moroni as the person who scarred him.
    • In Gotham Underground one of the gangs that ran 19th century Gotham were the Irish Wound Ravens.
    • Dennis Finnegan, who was framed for a murder carried out by two dirty cops in the Robin, was an Irish gangster who'd become the leader of a group calling themselves the Blackgaters.
    • In Batman: Gordon of Gotham, bloodthirsty racketeer Junior Mankln uses IRA torture and murder methods that he learned from his cousin in Belfast.
  • In Chassis, Tommy Tropic used to be a rumrunner for the Irish Mob during the days of Prohibition. Supposedly, he has retired and gone legit.
  • Garth Ennis' run on The Punisher MAX includes the "Kitchen Irish" arc, which deals with the last remnants of the Irish mob duking it out in the newly-gentrified Hell's Kitchen.
  • Road to Perdition has its protagonist Michael O'Sullivan (who was renamed Michael Sullivan for the movie), and the Looney mob (renamed Rooney for the movie) led by John and Connor Looney.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Musketeers of Pig Alley, a 1912 D. W. Griffith short. Actually, the thugs who dominate life in Pig Alley aren't specifically designated as Irish, but they definitely aren't Italian or Jewish, and the Snapper Kid, leader of a gang of toughs, certainly seems like an Irish gangster in the Cagney tradition — and "Snapper" is Dublin slang for kid.
  • Regeneration (1915) is another silent film about an Irish gang in the New York slums. In this one Love Redeems, with the gang leader falling in love with a social worker and leaving his life of crime behind.
  • The Public Enemy (1931) and other Cagney films.
  • The Big Bad in The Sting is an Irish Mob boss.
  • Nearly all the criminals in The Departed. Jack Nicholson's character Frank Costello was partially based on real-life Irish-American gangster James "Whitey" Bulger.
  • The antagonists in A History of Violence are Irish mobsters.
  • Miller's Crossing features a war between Irish and Italian gangs.
  • Johnny Dangerously is a comedic example.
  • Death to Smoochy also uses them comedically. In this case, they are on the main character's side, helping to protect him from a corrupt charity.
  • Veronica Guerin has a relatively rare film appearance by Irish mobsters actually operating in Ireland (and is closely based on a true story).
  • The General and Ordinary Decent Criminal are both about the exploits of real-life Irish gangster Martin Cahill.
  • In Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Dylan's ex-with-a-vengeance is an Irish mobster.
  • Gangs of New York features very early immigrant Irish street gangs that ultimately gave rise to the Irish Mob as we know it.
  • Paddy Whacked is a documentary based on T.J. English's book of the same name which details the history of the Irish Mob in America, from the rise of boxer and politician John "Old Smoke" Morrissey to the notorious James "Whitey" Bulger.
  • Reservoir Dogs has Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot, an Irish Mob boss who organizes the Dogs.
  • Road to Perdition, with the exception of a few of Al Capone's men in Chicago, involves Irish-Americans.
  • Notably absent in The Boondock Saints and its sequel All Saints Day. Despite being set in Boston, only Russian and Italian gangs seem to exist. The McManus brothers seem to have ties with Irish Republicans, and buy from an IRA arms dealer, but no actual Irish gangsters are shown.
  • The Town features the Irish mafia of Boston.
  • Far and Away features an Irish gang in 1892 USA with Colm Meaney as the bare-knuckle boxing leader.
  • The 1990 movie State Of Grace, which takes place in New York's Hell's Kitchen.
  • The antagonists of the 1991 Patrick Dempsey film Run are apparently Irish mobsters, given their names (Halloran, O'Rourke, Smithy, Martins) and the Boston / Atlantic City setting.
  • Black Mass tells the real-life story of Whitey Bulger, the Irish Mob kingpin of Boston. These characters feel their ethnic identity deeply, running guns to the Irish Republican Army when they aren't committing murders in Massachusetts.
  • Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, about Frank Sheeran, an Irish-American hitman for the Italian-American mob, and especially about his role in the disappearance of his old friend Jimmy Hoffa. Aside from the main character's ethnicity and criminal background, however, the film has nothing to do with the Irish Mob, but it nevertheless counts as the main character is Irish-American and is a gangster.
  • Another Scorsese film GoodFellas has James "Jimmy the Gent" Conway who is an Irish associate of the Italian Mafia just like Sheeran.
  • This is Roy Scheider's backstory in Sorcerer; his introductory scene depicts his involvement in a heist on a Mafia operation that goes unexpectedly south and forces him to flee the United States.
  • A Good Woman Is Hard To Find: The film deals heavily with the illegal drug trade in Dublin, and crime boss Leo Miller is the film's antagonist after Sarah gets unwilling connected to a man who stole his drugs.
  • The Equalizer: At first, the Russians suspect they might be behind the killings (it's Boston). Nicolai goes to speak with the local Irish mob boss, who's insulting and uncooperative. Because of this, he and his men are killed (but they didn't actually kill the Russians).

  • In The Godfather, the Corleone crime family is sometimes called 'the Irish Gang' because Vito's consigliere is the half-Irish half-German Tom Hagen. The Irish Mob proper is mentioned in passing as a group of 'mad dog Irish stick-up artists' the Corleones warred with during the Depression. They actually came within an inch of killing Vito, managing to shoot him (non-fatally obviously), which is better than Al Capone's gunmen managed.
  • The Robert B. Parker character Sunny Randall married into an Irish Mob family, and even though she and Richie (the White Sheep of this particular family) are divorced now, several members of the family are still fond of her and offer to help out if she needs it.
  • The Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear features a violent Irish criminal organization out in The Wild West.
  • Being that both Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro are from a rough Boston neighborhood, and then went into work as Private Detectives in that same neighborhood, the Irish Mob has figured in several stories in the Kenzie and Gennaro Series. They play the largest role in the second book of the series, Darkness Take My Hand, although they're subject to Villain Decay, as a Serial Killer and the Italians wind up being considerably bigger problems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Black Donnellys
  • Brotherhood
  • The second season of Heroes has Peter Petrelli link up with Irish mobsters in Cork.
  • The 'Fighting Fitzpatricks' of Veronica Mars, an Irish crime family in Neptune who are involved in drug dealing and extortion, among other things. While most of them are Irish, they have at least one black guy working for them in season 4.
  • Showed up on Leverage in "The Beantown Bailout Job"...and apparently Nate had been a childhood friend of one of the mobsters. Nate's father Jimmy is revealed to have been a high-ranking member of the Irish mob in "The Bottle Job." In "The Three-Card Monte Job," we meet him. And Hardison once pretends to be one to a mark: "Can you be scared, boyo?"
  • An episode of Spooks featured an American-Irish mobster and IRA weapons dealer who helped MI-5 prevent a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant because the fallout would hit Ireland as well.
  • The Maguires of Shameless (UK) are part of this.
  • In Oz, the Magnificent Bastard of the series, Ryan O'Reily, was the leader of an Irish street gang on the outside.
  • Boardwalk Empire has the American-Irish politician-turned-bootlegger-slash-gangster Nucky Thompson as its main character. Parts of the show depict the conflict between the local Irish gangs of Chicago and the Italian outfit led by Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. It also goes into the relationship between Irish Republicans and Irish-American gangsters with one of Nucky's lieutenants being a former IRA enforcer/bomber who decided to settle in America.
  • Peaky Blinders (which is rather similar to Boardwalk Empire) features a family of half-Irish, half-Romani gangsters and their rise to power in 1920s Birmingham. They also face a number of Irish criminals and also elements from both sides of the political conflict in Ireland at that time.
  • Castle:
    • One episode has an Irish gang ("the Westies"); the victim of the week is an enforcer for the gang who's been sent to try to stop drugs from being dealt in their neighborhood.
    • Another episode reveals that Ryan had in the past worked undercover and infiltrated an Irish gang. He has to go back undercover to protect his former girlfriend who is informing on the gang to the FBI.
    • In The Blue Butterfly, Castle casts Ryan as an Irish gangster in the PI's diary he's been reading. He derails the discussion of a case to try and get Ryan to mimic his character's accent.
  • Figures prominently in The Chicago Code, a bit puzzlingly considering Chicago's reputation as a home of The Mafia since the days of Al Capone.
  • An episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. had Brisco go up against Irish mobsters from Brooklyn.
  • The White Collar episode "The Dentist of Detroit" is mostly about an Italian mobster from Detroit, but the New York Irish mob plays a bit role in Neal's elaborate plan to arrest him.
  • Copper takes place in 1864 and shows the Irish-dominated New York neighborhood of Five Points. The local Irish gangs are more powerful than the police and the Irish police officers run their own protection racket.
  • Love/Hate is an example actually set in Ireland.
  • Not surprisingly, Law & Order has had several episodes dealing with the Irish mob. Same for Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which had one where an Irish mobster ran a small town and was protecting a cop killer.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Roscoe Sweeney, the fixer who made Matt's father take a dive (and later killed him when he refused), was Irish.
    • Season 2 starts when Nelson & Murdock get drawn into the crossfire of a conflict between Frank Castle and the Kitchen Irish, who are seeking to move back to Hell's Kitchen now that Wilson Fisk is in prison. The Kitchen Irish head even does a rousing speech to his men about how their people used to own the town until they lost their edge enough for Fisk to move in.
  • The "notorious Murphy clan" of Montreal in the Murdoch Mysteries episode "A Study in Pink".
  • Crossing Lines: Tommy's family are Irish Travellers who have their own criminal operation.
  • The Adventures of Slim Goodbody: Phineas Finicky, the brains behind the Evil Duo of Mary Pickfood and Finicky, has shades of this, given his accent and his connections. He begins most sentences with either "Saints preserve us" or "Sure an'".
  • Wild Bill: "Nothing Behind the Curtain" involves Frank McGill, a hitman who was with an Irish gang named the Maguires who went into witness protection for giving testimony that put the others away, though he'd gotten three life sentences for murder himself.
  • The Company You Keep: Patrick Maguire is a crime boss from Ireland, with his son and minions mostly Irish as well, though they operate in the US. The main exception is his daughter Daphne, who's apparently from the US originally (her mother was it seems African-American), though of course on his side she's half Irish too.

  • "Black Shamrock", by The Mighty Regis.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The McReary crime family from Grand Theft Auto IV is rare modern variant of the classic Irish-American mob and Deconstruction, since the game takes place in late 2000s. The family is an Irish-American criminal organization heavily inspired by the real-life Irish-American Westies. The family was once a powerful force in Liberty City with their base of operations in Purgatory (based on Hell's Kitchen), but the increased strictness of law enforcement in post-9/11 America, combined with new criminal organizations taking over territories, has led to the family losing influence, becoming a shadow of what it once was.
  • The O'Driscoll Boys fall under this category in Red Dead Redemption 2. They are all Irish immigrants and Irish Americans, who all wear green accessories possibly as a tribute to their heritage.
  • The organized crime in Fallout 3's Megaton is led by Moriarty, who has a strong Oirish accent. If you hack his computer, you find out he is faking it because he thinks it will make him more likable. The Irish gang that is Reilly's Rangers, on the other hand, is not so much into crime.
  • You can find holotapes in Fallout 4 by or relating to Irish mobster Eddie Winter, a sociopathic bastard who was busy fixing up relationships with the Italian Mafia so they could divide Boston between them... before the bombs fell and made the whole matter moot. Turns out he survived the past two hundred years as a ghoul (in fact, he was the very first ghoul, having cut a deal with a Mad Scientist at MIT to be a test subject for experimental radiation therapy), and Nick Valentine has some business to settle with him. Like Costello in The Departed, Winter is heavily based on real-life Boston Irish Mob boss and FBI's-most-wanted James "Whitey" Bulger.
    • There’s also the Triggermen who dress like stereotypical mobsters. Their “bosses” are Skinny Malone in Vault 114 and Eager Ernie at the Easy City Downs racetrack. Oh, and there is also Tommy Lonegan running a prizefighting racket with a Psycho addict named Cait.
  • A subplot in Shadow Hearts: From The New World involves Roy MacManus, the local Irish gang boss, dealing with his unrequited crush on Al Capone's sister Edna and his efforts to take over Chicago and Las Vegas after Capone was sent to Alcatraz.
  • Vito Scaletta has frequent run-ins with an Ax-Crazy Irish gang in Mafia II.
  • Mafia III has Thomas Burke as the Irish mob representative of Lincoln's organization. If he's either the sole survivor or just has the most power if Lincoln decides to leave town, they take over New Bordeaux until Burke's death in the '80s.
  • The Chicago South Club are the Watch_Dogs universe's equivalent of the Chicago Outfit, formed from an alliance of all of Chicago's Prohibition-era Irish gangs following the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to match the threat posed by the Outfit, whom they eventually defeated, absorbed and eclipsed in power. They are also far more sinister and influential than most examples of this trope as they not only control the city of Chicago through their puppet Mayor Donovan Rushmore but run an extensive human trafficking operation that kidnaps young women from America and Europe.
  • Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake features Nancy exploring an old cabin and hidden speakeasy once operated by an Irish gang in Prohibition-era Pennsylvania. Although the gang's members are long dead, she finds old documents related to their crimes and speaks with the mob boss's elderly ex-girlfriend about that time.

    Web Original 
  • Ultra Fast Pony turns Applejack and her extended family into mobsters with Irish accents. Apple farming is just a front for some other business ("The none of your damn business kinda business!") and they control all the trees in Ponyville. They also get into a war with a cow mob.

    Western Animation 
  • In the second season of Archer, Irish mobsters were behind a scam that replaced actual cancer medication with placebos. The titular Ax-Crazy spy proceeds to go on a "rampage!" to make them pay.

    Real Life 
  • James "Whitey" Bulger, mentioned more than once above, is the most famous Irish gangster. He operated drug dealing and gun smuggling rackets out of Boston and also spent 19 years as a U.S. government informant against rival Italian gangs (notably the Patriarca crime family) before going into hiding for 16 years as one of America's 10 Most Wanted felons. They only caught up with him in 2011 and convicted him in August of 2013 for racketeering and 11 murders. He was ultimately murdered in prison in 2018. (For an account of what life was like in Boston in the neighborhoods he dominated, see All Souls.)
  • The Westies are a New York City-based Irish-American gang. Though they never exceeded more than twenty or so members, it is believed they are responsible for up to 60-100 murders between the '60s and '80s, largely as a murder-for-hire group for Italian Mobsters such as the Gambinos. During the '80s, however, the Westies were a rare example of an ethnic mafia being run by a person of different ethnicity than the majority of the mob members - it became associated with the Serbian mafija mafioso Boshko Radonjich.
  • The Clerkenwell crime syndicate (also known as the A-Team or the Adams Family) is/was a London based mob run by three Irish Catholic brothers (Terry, Tommy, and Patrick Adams). At their peak in the '90s, they were one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the UK, were linked with 25 murders, and amassed a fortune estimated at £200 million.
  • Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll was notorious back in the days of organized crime for his feud with Dutch Schultz. Although Coll and his Irish mob were the first rivals to make Schultz so much as flinch, they were mostly notorious for a botched drive-by that left the intended target unharmed but killed a 5-year-old boy.
  • The Dead Rabbits gang was one of America's first street gangs and was largely comprised of Irish immigrants who escaped to New York during the Potato Famine. Notably, they had a female leader for a while, known as Hellcat Maggie. A fictionalized version of Hellcat Maggie and the Dead Rabbits as a whole are featured in the movie Gangs of New York.
  • The Celtic Club in Cleveland is a bit more recent example, originally formed from young Irish-Americans by Danny Greene to serve as his personal muscle to protect his gambling dens. He then attempted muscle in on the Licavoli family's rackets and competed with them for control of the city during the 70s. The ensuing conflict resulted in Cleveland gaining the moniker "Bomb City, U.S.A" due to the popularity of the car bomb, and while the Italians killed off Danny Greene, he permanently crippled their influence in the city.
  • In more recent times, gangsterism has become quite prominent in Ireland itself, particularly since the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin (the subject of a film mentioned above).
    • Infamous Irish gangland criminals have included the likes of Martin "The General" Cahill, John Gilligan, and "Fat" Freddie Thompson. Guerin's employers at the time of her death, The Sunday World, fill their issues heavily with gang-related stories.
    • This is also true of Northern Ireland; the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force fell on hard times towards the end of The Troubles and resorted to protection rackets, heroin dealing and the odd bank job to keep the bills paid. After the end of major combat operations, many of them decided to carry on as usual and pocket the cash for themselves.
  • The infamous Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, while now more of a mix between White Gangbangers and Those Wacky Nazis, originated as a gang of Irish-American bikers called The Bluebird Gang in the late 1950s and early 1960s before becoming the Aryan Brotherhood proper. These origins are reflected in their use of Shamrock tattoos to identify themselves.
  • The Moran family in Melbourne, Australia.
  • It is pessimistically believed that the city of Limerick, Ireland, is really run by three or four competing family gangs. Whatever the truth of this, investigative journalists investigating gang culture in Limerick, Dublin and one or two other cities have met suspicious deaths.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Irish Mob


Maunder Family

In "Bitlife but I make organized crime extremely unorganized," Kevin (who is Irish himself) has his character join an Irish mob. Despite his complete loyalty to the mob, they show him very little respect.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TheIrishMob

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