Cillian Murphy thinks he knows why the Irish accent is so difficult to master

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Cillian Murphy

Hollywood star Cillian Murphy has given his insight on why the Irish accent is so difficult for non-Irish actors to master.

The Peaky Blinders actor is one of Ireland’s most famous movie stars and he has worked with some of the great names of Hollywood such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Rachel McAdams.

As a Cork native, Murphy is well placed to comment on how non-Irish actors tackle the Irish accent when necessary for a given role.

He said: “Irish, man, it is the hardest. I think it is one of the hardest ones to do, it really is. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because it is so variable, and because, maybe, because again, historically in America, there seems to be a version of the Irish accent that seems to have been accepted, that isn’t accurate.”

Murphy’s point about the variance of accents from county to county in Ireland is one that many Irish people will recognise.

Although the variances can be subtle and difficult to detect for non-Irish people, most Irish people would be able to distinguish between the thoughtful Dublin tones to the musical Kerry accents.

Murphy grew up in Cork which is known as the Rebel County.

Cork’s most famous son was Michael Collins, who fought for Irish independence and was ultimately killed for his actions after he signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Another famous Cork man is Roy Keane, who was feared and respected in equal measure when playing for Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s.

He is now no less frightening as a television pundit and regularly delivers brutal putdowns to current players in his fierce Cork accent.

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That aggression is not something that is associated with the Irish accent as a whole, and there are many small variances in tone and rhythm as you move around the country.

Murphy’s comment about there being a historic version of the Irish accent that has become accepted as the norm in America highlights the problems faced by non-Irish actors when trying to sound convincing in their roles.

Even some of the most respected performers in Hollywood have come under fire in the past for their attempts at the Irish accent.

The Independent newspaper marked St Patrick’s Day 2021 by compiling a list of the worst Irish accents in movies.

Stars that came under fire for their efforts included Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York), Julia Roberts (Michael Collins), Tom Hanks (Cloud Atlas) and Tom Cruise (Far and Away).

The list even included Irish-born star Pierce Brosnan for his attempt at an Irish accent in Taffin.

Given its history of being a difficult accent to master, perhaps we should show some tolerance to the efforts of non-Irish stars in the future.

Always fun listening to them try though! Here is the YouTube video of the worst ten Irish accents as compiled by the Independent newspaper.