An Irish Goodbye Film Review

An Irish Goodbye is a modern emigrant story that turns the genre of departure from Dear Old Erin’s Isle on its head. While films, plays, songs, and literature, from Brooklyn (Crowley, 2015/ Tobín, 2009) to Philadelphia Here I Come (Friel, 1964), have long dealt with the bittersweet stories of Irish goodbyes, it is rare that a creative pursuit has set out to explore emigration by asking what might bring me home? 


Written and directed by the now BAFTA award winning Tom Berkeley and Ross White, the short film is a masterclass in storytelling, casting, and cinematography. While Irish diaspora daydreams may drift to thoughts of home, it is true that for many of us it is an unforeseen tragedy, like the loss of a loved one, that becomes our reason to return. Brothers Lorcan and Turlough, played by James Martin and Seamus O’Hara respectively, find themselves at home together in Northern Ireland for the first time in many years following their mother’s untimely death. As questions arise about the inheritance of land and of new responsibilities, Lorcan’s agency in deciding his own future as an adult with Down’s Syndrome comes into focus.


The dynamic, hilarious, and heart-warming relationship between brothers confronts the audience with existential questions about what really matters to us and where we really call home. Deserving of a mention too is Father O’Shea, played by Paddy Jenkins, whose presence punctuates the tense and tear-jerking moments with erratic one-liners and a familiar air of absurdity.


Now vying for an Oscar in the ‘Best Short Film’ category, An Irish Goodbye is sure to resonate with the many millions of us Irish who are, or have been, on the brink of coming home. 


At EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum we’re celebrating a record breaking year for the Irish at the Oscars with a micro-exhibition dedicated to diaspora links to the silver screen. Get to know the changing story of Irish emigration like never before across our 20 state of the art, interactive galleries.


Amano Miura for EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum