WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
FightingIrish 3408

Did yez ever know an Irishman who didn't love a fight?

Or who wouldn't stay to see it to the end?

Did yez ever know of one who wasn't merry when he's "tight,"

Or who wouldn't give his life to save a friend?

And who can beat the Irish when it comes to makin' love?

The other nations do the best they can;

And in other ways they trick us

But, sure, they'd never lick us,

If they'd stand up and fight us man to man!
Eileen, "The Irish Have A Great Day Tonight"

Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job, "Biddy" says she "you're wrong, I'm sure"

Biddy gave her a belt in the gob and left her sprawling on the floor

Then the war did soon engage, t'was woman to woman and man to man

Shillelagh law was all the rage and a row and a ruction soon began
Tim Finnegan's Wake, traditional Irish ballad

The Irish, or at least Oirish, counterpart to the Violent Glaswegian (when there's even any difference at all). Characters who are Irish or are of Irish descent are often portrayed as being fond of physical confrontation; even in a work where violence is typical, Irish characters will be especially eager for it. Being intoxicated and/or in a bar will often accentuate these tendencies.

This can be played many ways; nowadays a good-natured Boisterous Bruiser is the most common type, but Fighting Irishmen can also be be remorseless Blood Knights, tyrannical bullies, or terrorist psychopaths. If a Fighting Irishman or Fighting Irishwoman is or was in the Irish Republican Army expect him or her to have at least a bit of the Mad Bomber thrown in.

This may very slowly be becoming a Discredited Trope; while in the 19th century Irish soldiers did indeed make up a disproportionate number of soldiers in the British and American armies (and are still allowed to join the British Army) times have moved on even if the stereotype hasn't. Ironically, Ireland is one of very few countries to become independent in the 20th century to have never been in an international war. During World War Two it remained neutral because it couldn't sell the idea of England being worse than the Nazis to its populace (if often covertly pro-Allied in matters like internment) and turned down a 1949 offer to join NATO. The island also has a low rate of violent crime by international standards.

Examples of Fighting Irish include:

Trope Namer

  • The Trope Namers are the University of Notre Dame's varsity sports teams and their belligerent Leprechaun mascot, who in turn got the name from Father William Corby, who was twice as President of the University of Notre Dame and served with the "The Fighting Sixty-Ninth" 69th Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War.


  • Irish girl Clover in the comic Blue Monday is easily the most violent person in the entire comic.
  • Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil is the biggest example of this trope in comics. The son of an Irish-American boxer, Jack "The Devil" Murdock, Matt Murdock prowls the rooftops of Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood as Daredevil. He's an expert martial artist and boxer, and generally not someone you'd want to face in a fight. Matt is also portrayed as being devoutly Roman Catholic, another famous Irish cultural trait.


  • The Boondock Saints: The MacManus brothers get into a Bar Brawl with some Russian mobsters and decide to become Vigilante Men and kill them all, and then the rest of the organized crime in Boston.
  • In The Quiet Man, everyone is itching for a fight between Thornton and Danaher, and when it finally comes, they all want to join in.
  • Inverted in Back to The Future Part III: Seamus McFly keeps counseling Marty about staying out of fights and keeping his cool, although this is probably because his own brother Martin was very much the embodiment of this trope. This didn't end well.

  Seamus: Martin used to let men provoke him into fighting. He was concerned people would think him a coward if he refused. Thats how he got a bowie knife shoved through his belly in a saloon in Virginia City.

  • In Braveheart, Wallace's most eagerly violent soldier is an Irishman who joined the campaign not for the sake of freedom, but for the chance to kill Englishmen. He's also insane, or deeply religious with a sick sense of humor.
  • Crops up in Gone Baby Gone, where a man at the bar in Dorchester where Patrick goes to investigate gets belligerent and refers to him as having an "ass like a Skippy Jar." Amusingly enough, this was a Throw It In and the man was an actual resident of the area, and Ben Affleck, the director, explains on the commentary that they were actually nervous about whether the residents would take direction or get belligerent for real.

Live Action TV

  • Burn Notice: Ex-IRA fighter Fiona Glenanne is quick to recommend that any problem be solved by charging in with guns and bombs blazing, especially when it involves children being endangered. Her suggestions usually get shot down in favor of something less conspicuous, but when the firepower's needed Fi is always ready to provide.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus "Bookshop Sketch": 101 Ways to Start a Fight by "an Irish gentleman whose name eludes me."
  • Danny Reagan in Blue Bloods. Not so much a Blood Knight as a rather brutal Cowboy Cop.
    • The whole Reagan clan is definitely a Badass Family, and the adults all seem to be tough fighters. Lampshaded by Great-Grandpa Reagan who responds to one of the kids wondering about what would happen if an intruder broke into the house by saying "Are you kiddin'? He'll take one look around this table and run the otha' way!"
  • In 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy ends up in a fist fight with members of his dysfunctional family in the appropriately titled episode "The Fighting Irish".
  • The Colbert Report: Stephen has invoked his Irish heritage several times in connection with his generally aggressive demeanor:
    • At the end of his first interview with Chris Mathews, who is also Irish-American, Stephen challenged him to a wrestling match and lost.
    • Stephen has stated on multiple occasions that, if he had a Time Machine, he would challenge Oliver Cromwell to a bare-knuckle fistfight on the banks of the River Shannon because "he drove [his] people west of [the river] to farm on rocks and gravel!"


  • The ballad "Finnegan's Wake." A fight at a wake leads to the whiskey spilling over the corpse. Being Irish, he immediately rises from the dead to get at the whiskey and joins the fray.
  • The Garryowen is a song all about drinking and fighting, and fighting and...drinking. And fighting.
  • The Dropkick Murphys have several songs with this theme, including "Take 'Em Down" "Going Out In Style" and "Cruel", which contains this line:

 I was young and I thought I knew everything

It's so hard to change a fool's mind

When you're stubborn by nature and quick to the draw

And you're full of inherited pride

Professional Wrestling

  • WWE:
    • Finlay, who "loves to fight", embodied the fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser side of this trope, even as he knocked people out with his shillelagh.
    • "The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus represented the more villainous side, as he is willing to inflict serious injuries through underhanded means. After his Face Turn he's stopped using sneaky tactics and trying to cause permanent injuries, but he can still project serious menace when he wants.

Tabletop Games

  • The Fianna from Werewolf: The Apocalypse often danced in this territory as an embodiment of Oirish tropes. This is what happens when you take Fionn Maccumhail's warrior band and make them all werewolves.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • In one of the St. Patrick's Day episodes of The Simpsons, Springfield's Protestant and Catholic Irish populations remember how much they hate each other when they aren't allowed to drink. Cue orgy of violence.
    • Another St. Patrick's Day episodes where Bart inadvertantly touches off a riot:

 KENT BROCKMAN: Drunkenness, fighting, destruction of property: are these really the qualities we associate with the Irish?

  • In Family Guy, drunken violence is portrayed as a standard evening's entertainment when Peter travels to Ireland to find his real father.
    • Parodied when Chris compares the gas induced by his mother's vegetables to an Irish Bar Brawl in his intestines; the Brussels sprout and broccoli argue with Irish accents and fight in front of a crowd of onlookers.
  • Saturday Night Live: Patrick Fitzwilliam and William Fitzpatrick, hosts of "Top O' the Mornin'" regularly punched walls.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.