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When I was your age they would say we can become cops or criminals.
—Frank Costello, The Departed
No, not slang for the cops. Organized crime, Irish-style.
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.
The Mob originated in the early 19th century and until the rise of the Italian and Jewish gangs in the 1880's and later was the dominating force in New York organized crime. During the Twenties the Mob was a major player and many of the first flush of 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.
Boston is especially associated with The Irish Mob, but, as noted above they can turn up anywhere.
See also: Southies.
- While Batman: The Long Halloween mostly involves the Italian Mafia, a quartet of Irish gangsters--employed by Carmine Falcone--appear in one chapter.
- Garth Ennis' run on The Punisher 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.
- The Public Enemy 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 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.
- Veronica Guerin has a relatively rare film appearance by Irish mobsters actually operating in Ireland.
- 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.
- 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 Run are supposedly this, given their names (Halloran, Martins) and the Boston/Atlantic City setting.
- 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 Corleone's 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 Black Donnellys
- The second season of Heroes had Peter Petrelli link up with Irish mobsters in Cork.
- The 'Fighting Fitzpatricks' of Veronica Mars.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Oz, the Magnificent Bastard of the series, Ryan O'Reily, was the leader of an Irish street gang on the outside.
- Boardwalk Empire depicts the conflict between the local Irish gangs of Chicago and the invading Italian outfit led by Al Capone. It also goes into the relationship between Irish Republicans and Irish-American gangsters.
- Castle has an episode with 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.
- The Chicago Code
- An episode of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr had Brisco go up against Irish mobsters from Brooklyn.
- "Black Shamrock", by The Mighty Regis.
- Packie, Derrick, and Gerry McReary, along with their associate, Michael Keane in Grand Theft Auto IV are gangsters from a family past its glory days. Their Black Sheep other brother Francis is deputy police commissioner, but just as dirty as, if not worse than, they are. Francis's last mission for Niko is to kill Derrick because he feels threatened by what Derrick knows about him. Derrick, in turn, tells Niko to kill Francis. Francis attempts to sweeten the deal by offering you up to $20000 and later, using his connections to clear your Wanted Meter on demand.
- 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.
- A subplot in Shadow Hearts: From the New World involves Roy MacManus, the local Irish gang boss, dealing with his unrequired 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 Axe Crazy Irish gang in Mafia II.
- In the second season of Archer, Irish mobsters were behind a scam that replaced actual cancer medication with placebos. The titular Axe Crazy spy proceeds to go on a "rampage!" to make them pay.
- Whitey Bulger is the most famous Irish gangster. He spent 19 years as a government informant against rival Italian gangs before going into hiding for 16 years as one of America's 10 Most Wanted felons.
- 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 60's and 80's, largely as a murder-for-hire group for Italian Mobsters such as the Gambinos.
- 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 90's 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.