America loves mafia movies. And while everyone associates movies like The Godfather as one of the most popular mob movies of all time, the Irish mob is just as entrenched in American pop culture.
The Irish mob was one of the first crime syndicates in the US. Irish-American street gangs dominated the streets of New York in the late 19th century, carving out swaths of territory that they would run for decades to come. And they wouldn’t stay in New York. The Irish mob moved to Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, New Orleans, and more, expanding across the country and eventually landing in California.
Combine these stories with news of the IRA, and it’s no wonder that our fascination with the darker side of Irish crime continues to transfix audiences. From those early beginnings to modern times, there is no shortage of Irish mob movies to choose from.
Here are 15 of the best movies that explore the power, danger, and allure of the Irish mob.
The Town (2010)
After a group of thieves with ties to a local Irish mob boss takes an assistant bank manager hostage, things get complicated. When one of the robbers seeks Claire out to make sure she can’t identify them, he starts to fall for her. But as their romance deepens, he knows he has to change. It won’t be easy. And leaving could destroy not just his relationship, but Claire’s life.
The Departed (2006)
Both the Boston police department and the Irish gang have a mole. On the police side, they send cop Billy Costigan undercover. And crime boss Frank Costello sends career criminal Colin Sullivan to infiltrate the police. But as tensions rise, and each side gets closer to finding the mole, both Billy and Colin have to figure out who the other is before they’re caught and lose their lives.
Gangs of New York (2002)
After young Irish immigrant Amsterdam Vallon watches a powerful anti-immigrant gang leader, William “The Butcher” Cutter murder his father, he disappears. But he never forgets that fateful day. Or forgets his desire for revenge. Unrecognizable, he infiltrates Cutter’s gang, making his way to the inner circle, fighting not just for survival, but a place for the Irish in America.
The Irishman (2019)
When truck driver Frank Sheeran starts working for crime boss Russell Bufalino, he quickly rises through the Pennsylvania crime family to become one of their top hitmen. He’s known as “The Irishman.” But when he’s told to kill his friend and Teamster, Jimmy Hoffa, he’s forced to weigh his true loyalties.
The Irish Mob (2023)
Crime boss Val Fagan runs one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in Dublin. When an international drug shipment is lost, he decides to commit a daring robbery, stealing money from a cash depot. But the Garda is already hot on their trail. And it’s only a matter of time before someone makes a mistake.
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
When the Italian Mafia threatens the life of a crooked bookie, Irish mob boss Leo O’Bannon has to step in. He doesn’t care about the bookie. But he does care about the bookie’s sister. So does Leo’s right-hand man, Tom Reagan. When Leo finds out, Tom is forced to work for the Italians as war between the two crime families escalates.
The Kitchen (2019)
When the FBI sends three high-level members of the Irish mafia to prison, their wives refuse to let it change their lives. They take over their husband’s Hell’s Kitchen territory, running their business and taking out their competitors—both outside their crime organization and within.
Boondock Saints (1999)
When Irish twin brothers decide they’ve had enough of the mob running through their town, they decide to take things into their own hands. They start hunting and killing every gangster in their community. Their neighborhood thinks they’re heroes. The FBI thinks they’re criminals. And one agent is determined to bring them to justice.
State of Grace (1990)
Ten years is a long time. Terry Noonan was once a tough street kid. Now, he’s an undercover cop. His assignment is to infiltrate the Irish mob and get close to the boss, Frankie Flannery. Easy enough. He was once friends with Frankie’s younger brother. But as he gets closer to Frankie, he also gets closer to his old flame, Frankie’s sister. And things get complicated.
The last thing Danny Quinn expects to find when he comes home to South Boston is for his brothers to be deeply entrenched in the Irish mob. He doesn’t want to fall back into the life he left. But to save himself and his family, he has to make a decision that could risk it all.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
When low-level gunrunner, Eddie Coyle, is busted after a hold-up, he’s given the chance to provide information to the ATF. The only problem is Eddie Coyle has no friends. And the people he has information on aren’t of interest to the ATF. But when he accidentally gives up information on the wrong people, the Irish mob thinks he’s a rat.
Kill the Irishman (2011)
Based on a true story, Kill the Irishman follows Danny Greene, who works for Irish mobsters in Cleveland in the 1970s. His success leads to a violent turf war, that eventually leads to the collapse of the mafia operations in multiple cities all across the US.
Black Mass (2015)
Even as his brother rises through the Massachusetts Senate, Irish criminal James “Whitey” Bulgar refuses to stop his life of crime. Using an alliance with the FBI to take down the Italian mob, Bulgar becomes one of the most powerful and dangerous gangsters in US history.
In Bruges (2008)
When two Irish hitmen botch a job, they’re sent to Bruges to hide and wait for further instructions. Ray hates every aspect of Bruges. But his partner Ken is determined to show him the peace and beauty of the city. What follows is an increasingly surreal journey that just might change their lives.
Cardboard Gangsters (2017)
When Jay Connelly is cut off from his unemployment benefits, he learns that his mother has been taking loans from the local crime lord, Derra Murphy. To turn things around, he and his friends try to steal control of Derra’s territory. But a life of crime isn’t as easy as they imagined. And things quickly go from bad to worse.