For St. Patrick’s Day, let’s lift a pint of Harp to Irish television.
If you’ve visited Ireland, you’ve probably seen episodes of chat shows and Irish versions of reality competitions like “Dancing With the Stars.” As in countries around the world, American series like “Grey’s Anatomy” are popular.
And, of course, shows from England also air in Ireland. Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom, unlike the Republic of Ireland) even has its own BBC.
But film and television production is booming in Ireland, boosted by dazzling and versatile scenery, a growing economy, state-of-the art studios and generous tax credits.
The History Channel’s “Vikings” shoots in Ireland; so did Showtime’s “The Tudors” and “Penny Dreadful.” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” calls Belfast’s Titanic Studios home, with other locations scattered around the island and abroad. (Castle Ward in County Down is, or was, Winterfell.)
So many movies shoot in Ireland that the Irish make a game of spotting landmarks like the Cliffs of Moher standing in for other locations. And the Scots probably would rather you don’t know that “Braveheart,” about a hero of 13th-century Scotland, was actually filmed mostly in Ireland.
Irish television doesn’t find its way to the United States as often as British TV does, mostly due to the BBC’s partnership with “Masterpiece.”
That inequity seems to be changing, though, thanks to the growth in streaming networks with a voracious appetite for programming. Irish shows like “Moone Boy” (Hulu) and Gillian Anderson’s Irish-English “The Fall” (Netflix) are already available to stream.
Amazon has “The Ambassador,” a drama about England’s new ambassador to Ireland, and the documentary “1916: The Irish Rebellion.” There’s also a historical drama, “Rebellion,” about the same pivotal event, and it’s on Netflix.
New to streaming is BritBox, which promises to bring 2,000 hours of television from the United Kingdom to U.S. audiences for $6.99 a month. Anyone who has seen “Ballykissangel,” the drama about an English priest in Ireland that aired on PBS in the 1990s, will squeal with delight to learn that BritBox has all six seasons. (Although, admittedly, only the first three seasons were really worth squealing about.)
Acorn TV, the best bargain in streaming networks ($4.99 a month or $49 a year), specializes in television from the British Isles, Australia and New Zealand and also offers other international programs.
There you’ll find, as of March 27, three new “Jack Taylor” movies based on crime novels by Ken Bruen. (Season 1 of “Jack Taylor” is already on Netflix.)
Iain Glen, who plays Jorah Mormont on “Game of Thrones,” stars as Taylor, a former Irish “garda” (that’s a cop) who is sacked for punching a politician and turns private eye. The setting is Galway, and Glen (a Scot!) is flawless as the gruff, hard-drinking detective.
But first, arriving Friday on Acorn, is the engaging “Striking Out,” a four-episode legal drama starring Amy Huberman as Tara Rafferty, a Dublin lawyer who’s about to marry a partner in her big, successful firm when she catches him in an act of flagrant infidelity.
It’s a deal breaker, and by morning, Tara shows up at the office, grabs her case files and leaves, with no idea of where she’s going or what she plans to do.
Resourcefulness and serendipity kick in, though, and Tara finds new allies, including Ray (Emmet Byrne), a client who pitches in enough to become her assistant, and investigator Meg (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). Rory Keenan is the ex-fiance, Eric, who wants her back.
The outline of “Striking Out” is familiar enough that it might sound like an American show, probably airing Thursday nights on ABC. But there is nothing cliched about either the execution or the performances.
Hoping for scenery of the Emerald Isle? Hold on through the first episode for some dramatic coastal views.
Beyond the beauty shots, though, are the delightful Irish accents. While U.K. accents can sometimes be impenetrable for Americans, Irish accents seem much more understandable and even more charming.
All this makes “Striking Out” as tasty as warm soda bread with a pat of Kerrygold.
What “Striking Out” • Three stars out of four • When Friday • Where Acorn TV • More info acornTV.com