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), 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.


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. The film was nominated for and won several other awards including the Screen Actors Guild, Satellite Awards, and the National Board of Review.


Waking Ned inspired a Bollywood blockbuster Malamaal Weekly directed by Priyadarshan.[3]


Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]