Waking Ned

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Waking Ned
Waking Ned Devine.jpg
UK theatrical poster
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
Budget $3 million
Box office $55,257,450[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]


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), plot to discover the identity of the winner. They obtain a list of lottery customers from Mrs. Kennedy (Maura O'Malley) at the post office, and invite the potential winners to a chicken dinner, where they attempt to get the winner to reveal his or herself. After everyone has left and they are no closer to an answer, Annie realizes that one person did not come to the dinner, so Jackie pays a late-night visit to the only absentee: the reclusive Ned Devine (Jimmy Keogh). He finds Ned in his home in front of the TV, 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 personal information 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 (Fintan McKeown), also hoping to marry Maggie.

Jackie and Michael call the National Lottery to make the claim, prompting a claim inspector to be sent. The inspector, Mr. Kelly, arrives to find Jackie on the beach and asks him for directions to Ned's cottage. Jackie delays Kelly by taking him on a circuitous route while Michael races to the cottage on a motorcycle, completely naked, and breaks in so he can answer the door as Ned. After discovering that the lottery winnings are far greater than they anticipated (totaling nearly IR£7 million), Jackie and Michael are forced to involve the entire village in fooling Mr. Kelly. All the villagers sign their name to a pact to participate in the ruse except one – the local curmudgeon, Lizzie Quinn (Eileen Dromey), who threatens to report the fraud in order to receive a ten-percent reward, and attempts to blackmail Jackie for £1 million of the winnings. Jackie agrees, but does not actually intend to pay her more than her fair share.

The villagers go to great lengths to fool the inspector, even pretending Ned's funeral is a service for Michael when the inspector wanders into the church. As the inspector leaves, satisfied that the claim is legitimate, and the villagers celebrate their winnings at the local pub, Quinn makes her way to the nearest working phone, a phone box outside the village on the edge of a cliff, and phones the lottery office. Before she can report the fraud, however, the departing claim inspector sneezes while driving past her and loses control of his car, forcing an oncoming van to crash into the phone box, sending it plummeting off the 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 tells him "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.

Finally, Jackie, Michael, Maurice, and several other villagers stand on a hill and raise their glasses to Ned, toasting him for his gift to the village.


  • Ian Bannen as Jackie O'Shea
  • David Kelly as Michael O'Sullivan
  • Fionnula Flanagan as Annie O'Shea
  • Susan Lynch as Maggie O'Toole
  • James Nesbitt as Pig Finn
  • Adrian Robinson as Lotto Observer
  • Maura O'Malley as Mrs. Kennedy
  • Robert Hickey as Maurice O'Toole
  • Paddy Ward as Brendy O'Toole
  • James Ryland as Dennis Fitzgerald
  • Fintan McKeown as Pat Mulligan
  • Eileen Dromey as Lizzy Quinn
  • Kitty Fitzgerald as Kitty
  • Dermot Kerrigan as Father Patrick
  • Jimmy Keogh as Ned Devine
  • Paul Vaughan as Narrator


Jones originally developed the idea for Waking Ned as a roughly 10-minute short film, but later expanded the work into a full-length script. In a 2013 interview, Jones reflected:

Investors responded to the humour and engaging story and came on board but the level of finance was of course very low. I was grateful to the cast and crew who agreed to work for reduced fees in order to get the film made. When the film was finished, we put it in the boot of a car and drove to Cannes where we screened it and sold it to Fox Searchlight in the US, where it was released later that year.[4]

The film was shot on the Isle of Man,[3] with the village of Cregneash standing in for the fictional Irish village of Tulaigh Mhór.[5]


Box office[edit]

Waking Ned grossed $24.8 million domestically, and $30.4 million internationally, for a grand total of $55.2 million worldwide.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Waking Ned received a mostly positive response from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 83% based on 59 reviews.[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times lauded the film as "another one of those delightful village comedies that seem to spin out of the British isles annually." He added, "Waking Ned Devine can take its place alongside Local Hero, Comfort and Joy, The Snapper, The Van, The Full Monty, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Brassed Off, Eat the Peach and many others."[7] Derek Elley of Variety called it "a warmly observed comedy of manners" and wrote:

Though the pic throws up several twists as it progresses, at heart it is simply structured, relying on character studies rather than corkscrew plotting. As such, it's not laugh-out-loud material but time spent with a group of oddballs for whom normalcy is just one option in life. Given the amount of gab and paucity of real action, Jones paces the movie well, with little slack and a blackly comic finale that wraps the yarn in satisfying style.[3]


Kirk Jones was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer.[8] The film was nominated for and won several other awards including the Screen Actors Guild, Satellite Awards, and the National Board of Review.[citation needed]


Waking Ned inspired a Bollywood blockbuster Malamaal Weekly directed by Priyadarshan.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Waking Ned Devine (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "David Kelly, Irish character actor, dead at 82". CBS News. February 15, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Elley, Derek (September 17, 1998). "Review: 'Waking Ned Devine'". Variety. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  4. ^ Harding, Oscar (January 16, 2013). "Exclusive Interview: Kirk Jones, Director of What To Expect When You're Expecting". What Culture. Retrieved October 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Phoney Ireland awaits boom". The Guardian. March 29, 1999. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Waking Ned Devine". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 11, 1998). "Waking Ned Devine". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  8. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (April 7, 2000). "Britain's biggest movie tipped for Bafta failure". The Guardian. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Masand's Verdict: Malamaal Weekly", Rajeev Masand, CNN-IBN, IBN Live, April 29, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2014

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]