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Ah St. Patrick’s Day the one day a year every self-respecting Irish person grits their teeth at the thought of dyed green beer, Irish Car Bomb shots and, of course, Americans. The streets of our capital city run a kind of beige colour in accordance with the amount of puke and Guinness heads spilled there. Still, we soldier on knowing that it’s only underage teenagers, tourists and Dublin’s resident, beloved Brazilian population actually hitting the town.
Any Irish person worth their salt knows that the best time to go out is in the evening. After around six o’clock the non-drinkers, lightweights and tourists have retreated from the streets leaving it safe for the relatively sane Irish person (if such a person exists). Only then do we rage about 800 years of British oppression, sing folk songs and morph into the changelings, selkies and leprechauns we all really are. But what to do until six o’clock? Well there’s always video games. Here are 6 great Irish characters in video games.
Atlas – The BioShock Series
OK he might not actually be Irish and is instead a psychopathic terrorist that turns into a drug-strengthened bronze statue in the end game but when he was pretending to be Irish, Atlas was pretty damn convincing. Any fan of narrative games will have either played BioShock or knows about Atlas through osmosis but he was a key part of making BioShock’s immersive story the success it was. Just don’t think about that last boss fight.
The Emerald Herald – Dark Souls 2
Once the opening tutorial of Dark Souls 2 is complete the player moves to the hub area of Majula. Quasi-Celtic in design and feel Majula feels like a piece of Ireland’s ancient past cut adrift in a dying world. Constantly on the verge of a beautiful sunset and decorated with stone hunts, Celtic crosses and gravestones the only thing more Irish than Majula is it’s most important resident.
The Emerald Herald is the character that lets the player level up. Decked out in a green cloak and monastic robes and voiced by Oscar nominee Ruth Negga the Emerald Herald is a spot of brightness in the otherwise grim-dark and unforgiving world of Dark Souls 2. Majula is a peaceful spot which is such a necessary thing in such an exacting game and the Emerald Herald is who we come to for comfort in this blighted world.
Frank Bilders – Far Cry 2
Yeah he’s a terrorist but a good character doesn’t have to be a nice character. Born in Fermanagh in Northern Ireland Frank comes from a Republican family and was a member of the Provisional IRA before becoming a mercenary in the Central African nation Far Cry 2 is set in. Frank is, to put it bluntly, not a nice guy.
Frank engaged in gun running, extortion, punishment shootings and murder before being arrested and put in the Maze prison in Belfast. Rumoured to have participated in the murder of several Loyalists Frank eventually fled the North after dishing on other inmates. So yeah; terrorist, murder and rat bastard but compelling nonetheless.
Shay Cormac – Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Yeah, yeah he’s Irish-American but you’d be hard pressed to find more than 5 great Irish characters in games so we’re going with the half and half for this one. Ubisoft’s long-running franchise has had characters from every corner of the globe but Rogue was the break in the formula the series needed. Shay Cormac is the Punisher of the Assassin’s Creed world. No other player character in the series has felt grittier or more morally justified in their campaign against the Assassins.
Sean MacGuire – Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar have a bad reputation when it comes to Irish characters in their games. In the original Red Dead Redemption there’s a drunken oaf literally called Irish who ends shooting himself in a drunken stupor. GTA IV is no better with the MacReary family who are all either drunks, heroin addicts, former provos or criminals. Sean MacGuire is a different breed however by which I mean he’s not a stereotype. Voiced and performed by Cork man Michael Mellamphy Sean feels like the living, breathing Fenian bastard that he is.
Sean loves to talk, so much so that most of the Van Der Linde gang are irritated by him. But like most Irish people Sean has a tendency to not recognise this or just plain ignore it. Sean’s a friendly guy and loves ribbing player character Arthur Morgan about his Anglo heritage and his dour demeanor. He grows on Arthur as the game progresses through its first few slow chapters. We get a real sense of who this man is: a recent immigrant with definite revolutionary roots and a real sense of fun to boot. Sean makes a rapid, tragic exit from Red Dead Redemption 2 but along with Charles, Sadie and Lenny he stands as one of the game’s best characters not just because of how entertaining he is but for how real he is.
William Adams – Nioh
Nioh – in the tradition of the Soulsborne genre – is a hard game but protagonist William Adams doesn’t seem to care. He just gets on with it. Based on the 17th Century Anglo-Irish sailor, explorer and first Western samurai William is a stoic, pragmatic and impatient man with little time for pomp and ceremony. He is therefore the quintessential Irishman and the perfect man to stop the fictional demonic monsters taking over Japan in 1600.
William has little time and even less patience for the ins and outs of the Japanese belief system. His encounters with the demons or Yokai along with bandits and the undead are swift and brutal. He strikes first and never asks questions. William is respected in Nioh for his ability to adapt on the fly and quickly learn the Japanese language and culture just as he was in real life. He probably respected Japanese customs a lot more in real life though.