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Darby O'Gill and the Little People

We watched a lot of movies as a kid and a great deal of holiday rituals were wrapped around some of them. Tradition/my Dad dictated that we watch Ben-Hur for Easter, Grumpy Old Men for Thanksgiving, and The Longest Day for the 4th of July . There was a whole litany of flicks for Christmas like White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Gremlins, Scrooged and Die Hard. St Patrick’s Day however was always celebrated by watching Darby O'Gill and the Little People and eating Corned Beef (typically my dad would drink a Guinness too).

A little-known Disney flick starring Sean Connery in his 20s this movie has a lot of charm. Having watched it several times as a kid I immediately accepted its storyline about an elderly gentleman (Darby O’Gill) engaging in a cat and mouse like game with a Leprechaun population in Ireland. Not knowing much about Leprechaun lore, I assumed it was a common Irish tale only to find out as an adult it was a fabrication of Disney’s unsurprisingly copied from an existing work.

I am a huge fan of Sean Connery but sadly he seems to be stale and robotic in this movie. It is a notably different performance from his usually charming presence. Granted this is fitting with his character and the focus is on Darby and King Brian the leader of the little people anyway. The plot is fairly lighthearted except for the ending when a banshee shows up along with a “death coach” to cart away one of the characters. I remember hiding behind a blanket during this scene as a kid. As it’s an early Disney movie everything turns out alright in the end but it was pretty unsettling with the lights off for a child.

Sporting a 100% rating on and available on Disney+ I would recommend it especially on this very Irish day. We plan to watch it tonight and we our InstaPot is ready with Corned Beef, Carrots, Cabbage, and Potatoes. Pro Tip: Put a little Durkee’s Sauce on the veggies with this meal, always a hit with me as a kid.


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