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24th Apr 2013

King of the Travellers: Five of the top Traveller-influenced films

To celebrate the release of new Irish film King of the Travellers, JOE looks at five of the best Traveller-influenced films.

Eoghan Doherty

To celebrate the release of new Irish film King of the Travellers, JOE is taking a look through the back catalogue of cinema to highlight the important role the Travelling community has played over the years. We’ve already caught up with the film’s director Mark O’Connor and now it’s time to take a look at the Top 5 Traveller films.

By Eoghan Doherty

5. Man About Dog (2004)

An Irish comedy about dog-coursing, Man About Dog tells the tale of three lads, Mo Chara (Allen Leech), Scud Murphy (Ciaran Nolan) and the excellently-named Cerebral Paulsy (Tom Murphy) as they place all their hope in the skills of their champion dog, Cerberus.

Here’s a great clip with the inevitable Pat-Shortt-in-an-Irish-film-appearance and King of The Travellers star Michael Collins:

4. Pavee Lackeen (2005)

Pavee Lackeen is a critically-acclaimed documentary-style film and, to this, day, remains one of the best and most important films about the Travelling community. It tells the story of an Irish Traveller girl (Winnie Maughan) and the life she leads with her family.

Its director and co-writer, Perry Ogden, won an IFTA Award in the category of Breakthrough Talent in 2005 and lead actress Maughan was also nominated for Best Actress in a Feature Film in the same awards.

Ogden filmed the entire production on video and was praised for making the film startlingly real, showing the conditions in which Maughan and her family live.

3. Snatch (2000)

Not technically an Irish film but you can’t really talk about the representation of Irish travellers in film without talking about Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Mickey in Guy Ritchie’s excellent comedy-crime gangster flick, Snatch.

Supposedly Pitt’s unique vocal delivery came about after they discovered that he was terrible at doing an Irish accent (just watch The Devil’s Own) and so, by making him as incomprehensible as possible, the whole thing would become one big running joke. It definitely worked:

And here’s a clip of One-Punch Mickey doing what he does best, knocking nasty guys out with his signature one-punch move:

2. The Field (1990)

One of the most iconic and well-loved Irish films of all time, The Field also boasted a stellar cast with John Hurt, Sean Bean and, as the legendary Bull McCabe, the even-more-legendary Richard Harris. The Traveller community also play a crucial role in the film, especially as events reach their emotional climax.

Here’s the Bull telling it like it is in this classic clip about his opinion on Outsiders:

1.Into The West (1992)

What. A. Film.

Admit it, we all wanted our own massive white horse after seeing the brilliant Into the West. We didn’t get it though and we’re still waiting.

Strangely, this is a film that feels like it’s somehow part of every Irish person’s childhood, no matter when they were born and is yet another home-grown classic. It also helps that it has a wonderful who’s who of Irish acting talent with Gabriel Byrne, Colm Meaney, Brendan Gleeson, David Kelly (complete with greatest Irish old man voice ever) and, ahmm, Ellen Barkin.

The stand-outs though are the two young lads in the film, Ciaran Fitzgerald as Ozzie and Ruaidhri Conroy as Tito… even though we all called him Tayto. TAYYYYTTOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

King of the Travellers is in cinemas now

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge