Waking Ned

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Waking Ned
Waking Ned Devine.jpg
UK DVD cover
Directed by Kirk Jones
Produced by Richard Holmes
Glynis Murray
Written by Kirk Jones
Starring Ian Bannen
David Kelly
Fionnula Flanagan
Music by Shaun Davey
Cinematography Henry Braham
Edited by Alan Strachan
Tomboy Films
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 20 November 1998 (1998-11-20)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Waking Ned (titled Waking Ned Devine in North America) is a 1998 comedy film by English writer and director Kirk Jones. It stars Ian Bannen, David Kelly, and Fionnula Flanagan. Kelly was nominated for a Screen Actors' Guild award for his role as Michael O'Sullivan. The film is set in Ireland, but was filmed on location in the Isle of Man. It was produced by Canal+ and the British studio Tomboy Films and distributed by the American company Fox Searchlight Pictures.


When word reaches Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly), two elderly best friends, that someone in their tiny Irish village of 52 people in Tulaigh Mhór (Tullymore) has won the Irish National Lottery's Lotto game, they, along with Jackie's wife Annie (Fionnula Flanagan), go to great lengths to find the winner so they can share the wealth. They find out from Mrs Kennedy at the Post Office how many people in the village buy lottery tickets (18 people) and hold a chicken-dinner for those people to narrow down their list of suspects. After everyone has left, Annie finds that one person did not come to the dinner, so Jackie pays a midnight visit to the only absentee: the reclusive Ned Devine (Jimmy Keogh). He finds Ned in his home, still holding the ticket in his hand, a smile on his face and dead from shock. That same night, Jackie has a dream that the deceased Ned wants to share the winnings with his friends, as he has no family to claim the ticket. Jackie wakes up after the dream, and before dawn, he and Michael return to Ned's house to gather Ned's details so they can claim the winnings for themselves.

Elsewhere in the village, Maggie O'Toole (Susan Lynch) continues to spurn the romantic interests of her old flame, "Pig" Finn (James Nesbitt), a local pig farmer. Finn is convinced they belong together, as he thinks he is the father of her son Maurice, but she cannot abide him due to his ever present odour of pigs. Finn has a rival in Pat Mulligan, also hoping to marry Maggie.

Jackie and Michael call the National Lottery to make the claim, and that same day the claim inspector, Mr Kelly arrives, sees Jackie on the beach and asks him for directions to Ned's cottage. Michael follows them to the cottage and breaks in so he can answer the door, and pretend to be Ned. After discovering that the lottery winnings are far greater than anticipated (totaling nearly IR£7 million), Jackie and Michael are forced to involve the entire village in fooling Mr. Kelly. All villagers sign their name to agree to the claim, and to enter a pact to pretend that Ned is alive and well, by having Michael pose as him. They even go to the point of pretending Ned's funeral is a service for Michael when the claim inspector wanders into the church. Only one person does not sign, the local curmudgeon, Lizzie Quinn (Eileen Dromey) aka "The Witch", decides not to enter the pact and plans to report the fraud. If she does report it, she receives ten percent of the lottery as a reward (£689,462). Lizzie asks Jackie for one million as blackmail. They agree, but plan to pay her the same amount as everyone else (£130,000 each). As the villagers celebrate their winnings at the local pub, she attempts to phone the lottery office from a phone box outside the village on the edge of a cliff. Before she can deliver her message, though, the departing claim inspector loses control of his car, forcing an oncoming van driven by the village's priest to crash into the phone box, sending it plummeting off a tall cliff and crashing to the ground below with Quinn still inside.

At the celebration, Jackie spots Maggie, who is content that Finn is going to give up pig farming to marry her now that he can afford to. Jackie approves, adding that Maurice needs a father in his life. "More than seven million pounds?" she asks, nodding to her son. She then reveals that Maurice is related to Ned, but does not reveal how, stating, "Ned does have a family, Jackie", implying that Ned was Maurice's father. Jackie urges her to claim the entire fortune, but Maggie is sure that Maurice needs a father more and the villagers need the money. The film closes with Jackie, Michael, Maurice, Dennis Fitzgerald the Landlord, and Tom the local postman standing on a hill and raising their glasses to Ned, toasting him for his gift to the village.


The film was shot on the Isle of Man, with the village of Cregneash standing in for the fictional Irish village of Tulaigh Mhór.


Box office[edit]

Waking Ned grossed £911,901 in the UK in its opening weekend[citation needed] and £2.16 million internationally[verification needed], for a grand total of £3.45 million worldwide.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 83% based on 59 reviews.[2]


Kirk Jones was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer.[3] The film was nominated for and won several other awards including the Screen Actors Guild, Satellite Awards, and the National Board of Review.[3]


Waking Ned inspired a Bollywood blockbuster Malamaal Weekly directed by Priyadarshan.[4]


Further reading[edit]

  • Waking Ned Devine: An Original Screenplay by Kirk Jones (1999) ScreenPress Books,

External links[edit]