St. Patrick’s Day is upon us — that March 17 holiday on which seemingly rational people the world over take to wearing tall green caps and clover-emblazoned scarves and shouting “top of the morning to you” at strangers.
As a native Dubliner, though, I find it all a bit cringe-inducing. (Do we really look and sound like that?) But the day does allow me the opportunity to offer my expert opinion on a topic that’s long intrigued me—namely, the quality of Irish accents in Hollywood films.
There are just so many movies that have seen me almost spasm at how horrific my native accent can sound when spoken badly. Sure, ours aren’t the easiest lilts in the world: We often speak quickly, run our words together, and make our terminal ts sound like sh. (It might seem like a small thing, but, trust me, it’s not.) A bad accent can ruin a movie—breaking the illusion, making everything seem just a little local, cartoonish, even. While a good one can seem regional and global at once; firmly locating the drama and never limiting it any way.
So I assembled a collection of relevant films. I watched. I listened. I took notes.
Here, then: TIME’s list of the worst — and best — Irish accents from the movies.