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Games: An Ode to Irish Game Characters

Posted March 20, 2013 by Ciarán O'Brien in Games

For such a tiny country, Ireland has really made its mark, whether through amazing actors like Liam Neeson or the last few years of unbelievable financial meltdown fucktastrophe. As a result (well, not so much from the money thing), the Irish are everywhere. Or at least, the idea of the Irish are. This is why we had Richard Gere putting on an atrocious accent in Day of the Jackal, and there are now more sodding Leprechaun movies than there are stars in the sky.

Oddly enough though, one area the Irish haven’t cracked open is the video games industry. There are buggerall Irish characters in games, and half the ones that exist are, ahem, shite. Most play up the shillelagh-waving whiskey-guzzler so hard that we just can’t stay mad at them, though. Here, then is an ode to the scarce handful of Irish characters that managed to make it in a video game.


Irish (Red Dead Redemption)

'Ara sure how was I ta know it was loaded? I was drunk!" Oh, Irish, you card!

They couldn’t even give him a proper name. That’s how much research the devs did on the token Irish character in what is really a cracking Wild West simulator, a Grand Theft Horse. Irish is a filthy drunken degenerate with the kind of accent that would make Darby O’Gill sound like a British Lord. His Irishness seems to be used as comic relief, as Poor old Irish is always getting caught up in some manner of shenanigans, the details of which he’ll regale you with each time you take a mission from him. Usually it involves being drunk, violent, lecherous or all of the above. We’re expected to laugh and say ‘Ho ho ho, oh Irish, you card!’, but he lacks the good old Irish charm to let him get away with it. While the worthless drunken sot stings our Irish pride, we have to say some of his utterances are actually pretty on the ball. ‘Mother o’ feckin’ Mary’ is about as authentic as they come, and who could fail to be impressed with such a taunt as ‘Ya couldn’t shoot a shite out of yer own arse!’ Admit it, you just roffled at that one.


Patrick Galloway (Clive Barker’s Undying)

Tousled hair? Check. Rogueish good looks? Check. Willing to shoot you if you mess with him? Oh you better believe that's a check.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Patrick Galloway was a far cry from the pseudo-comic antics of RDR’s Irish. A brave man, who fought in World War 1, who had a nasty encounter with a creepy shaman (and killed him, naturally, and stole his magical stone) and became a paranormal adventurer, as you did in those days. Early 19th century Ireland being what it was, it’s surprising there wasn’t at least one in every family (APART FROM THE PRIESTS YOU MEAN OOOOH BURN!). An old friend by the name of Covenant, who saved Galloway’s life in the war, calls for help regarding a family curse, and sure didn’t the man save his life before, what would the neighbors think if he didn’t return the favour? Patrick’s accent isn’t terrible, but that’s because it sounds like the actor’s heart wasn’t in it. Maybe, upon hearing what the developers wanted in an Oirish accent, he thought ‘That sounds pathetic, I’ll just say “me” instead of “my” and dull out the worst of my American accent.’ We’re glad he did. Galloway is pretty badass. Irish is something he just happens to be, it’s not something that restricts him like the previous character.


James Donnelly (L.A. Noire)

'You're feckin' NICKED, me boyo!'

Someone in Team Bondi knew what they were doing when it came to making characters. While it’s a shame the game itself was less than inspiring due to a horrible sordid tale we won’t go into here, the characters were nicely done in every respect. And Captain Donnelly was one of the finest. He was a real hardass when he needed to be (‘GET BACK IN THERE AND RAISE SOME LUMPS BOY! I NEED A CONFESSION!’), but even when angry he had a poetic flair which suggested the writer had actually been to Ireland, or at least read a few Yeats poems (‘God’s mill may grind slowly but it grinds finely, son!’). He’s a tough soul and he gets results (bending the law if necessary). All in all, Donnelly is a character Irish people can point at proudly. If I had my way, the whole game would have been populated with Donnellys. That may have made things considerably more difficult, as he was a) a hard man to read, and b) capable of ending your career with a pen stroke. Oh, and c) liable to shoot you to save time on paperwork.


Sean Devlin (The Saboteur)

'I was only havin' the craic, officer, juno wad I MEAN like?'

Ah, a truer Irishman there never was seen. As the game opens, he’s downing whiskey like there’s no tomorrow in a burlesque house, dressed like he just got off the farm. He looks like he was about to break into a maudlin sean nós tune about how the English came along and took away the potatoo-ooo-es a diddly-eye-di-dye. Alas, he’s interrupted by a Frenchman with an accent even worse than the Oirish lilt of our protagonist. Seriously, ‘Allo ‘Allo! was more authentic. But Seanie certainly has plenty of Irish in him. He finishes his drink, hops into someone else’s car, and gets in a punch-up before the first 5 minutes of gameplay are done. It’s like he was based on Michael Healy-Rae. He has some beautifully Irish one-liners, as well; when things get explodey and bullets start flying, he’s not averse to exclaiming ‘Jumpin’ Jaysus!’, ‘holy mother o’ fuck!’ or ‘Shoite! I’m BLAYDIN!’ The cutscenes continue his lovely turns of phrase, with precious cargo ‘trussed up tighter than a nun’s arse’. And there is a wonderful moment when he’s mistakenly called British and he responds with ‘I’m fuckin’ Irish!’. Yes, Sean Devlin knows the score. Terrible accent and cliches aside, He’s my favorite of the lot. He doesn’t have Captain Donnelly’s way with words or Patrick Galloway’s frankly awesome job title, but neither does he have Irish’s lousy craven toora-loora idiocy. He’s a good solid lump of an Oirish lad.

I could have mentioned Nina or Anna from Tekken, who were the daughters of an IRA assassin on the run from his past, but Jesus, that’s just ridiculous. There was the badass killing machine Jack O’Hara from Commandos, but that’s pretty much as deep as his character goes. And let’s not even go near the alleged game Fine Gael perpetrated for the 2011 election. No, the above really are the cream of the crop when it comes to Irish characters.

"Ah Jaysus howayez Cyclops?"

That said, the Irish have made inroads into video game voice acting, but usually not as Irish characters. There are some surprisingly big names who have lent their dulcet tones to one game or another. Michael Fassbender, of all people, played a particularly fine role as Logan, the evil king of Albion in Fable 3, with a fabulous British-sounding ruthless ambition that showed not a trace of being from the Kingdom County (and thank goodness for that; can you imagine if his speeches sounded, as Editor Lisa put it recently, like ‘Ah here, I was only bein’ so feckin’ tyrannical cos sure the forces of Darkness are comin’, for fuck’s sake like’? You’d never know it, but where he’s from people talk like this all the time!

And let us not forget Liam Neeson! Yes, he of Batman Begins and Taken fame also focused his wonderful voice on Fallout 3 as the player’s dad, but again there was very little in the way of an Irish lilt to his dialogue. Still, if there’s anything that’ll help you deal with the traumatic experience of playing through your own birth and seeing your mother die 30 seconds later, it’s the soothing waves of Neeson’s voice being the first thing to greet you. Of course the one Irish fella you meet, Moriarty, has a dodgy Oirish accent, owns a bar, and tries to swindle you out of 100 caps. I mean Liam Neeson was right feckin’ there, lads! It’s Highlander all over again, the Scotsman was played by a Frenchman, and the ACTUAL Scottish actor they got was a British/Egyptian/Japanese… Something or other. Boggles the mind.

All in all though, it’s nice to see our tiny little island get so much recognition in the wider world. The Irish, eh? A great bunch of lads. Even the pretend ones.

"'War never changes'? I'll feckin' change war for ye, ye little bollix!"

About the Author

Ciarán O'Brien

Ciarán has been gaming since the days of the Amiga 500, all the way up to the latest tabletop RPGs and wargames. A friendly, gentle soul who wouldn't harm a fly right up until the point where you touch his whiskey.

  • Abban

    Atlas from Bioshock!

    • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

      Shh, don’t tell anyone, but he wasn’t actually Irish… >_>

      • Abban

        He actually had 2 voice actors too :)

        • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

          Did not know that. Ah well, too late now.

  • http://twitter.com/Fearganainim Fearganainim

    Of course Sam Devlin is a direct rip off of Liam Devlin, a character that Jack Higgins created back in the stoneage…

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