Warning: Spoilers for The Banshees of Inisherin.Martin McDonagh’s Banshees of Inisherin won three Golden Globe Awards in 2023 – including Best Picture in the musical/comedy category – but the dark comedy’s twisty ending is hard to decipher on first viewing. McDonagh’s films and plays are typically filled with allusions to classics, subtle gags and motifs that are not readily apparent, and complex imagery. Banshees of Inisherin the ending, explained on closer inspection, shows that the 2022-under-the-radar hit is no exception to this rule.

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Banshees of Inisherin‘s offbeat plot sees the good-natured Pádraic (Batman actor Colin Farrell) gradually unravels after his former friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson), abruptly refuses to speak to him. While Pádraic’s sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled local boy Dominic (Barry Keoghan) try to defuse the couple’s escalating fight, their efforts prove fruitless. At the end of Banshees of InisherinDominic is dead, Siobhán has left Inisherin, and Colm has committed an irrevocable act of self-mutilation, inadvertently turning Pádraic into a lifelong enemy.

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What happens in the ending of Banshees of Inisherin

Surprisingly, none of the film’s main characters die Banshees of Inisherin End. However, Dominic is not so lucky. That said, this especially breaks the trend of death in Martin McDonagh’s films. Pádraic talks to Colm despite the latter repeatedly warning him that he would cut off his own fingers if he did so. Meanwhile, Siobhán cautiously rejects Dominic’s romantic advances and moves to the mainland to get a library job. True to his word, as Pádraic tries once more to mend the friendship, Colm cuts off his fingers with a pair of scissors and throws them on the door of Padraic’s cottage. Pádraic’s beloved pet pony, Jenny, eats one of the severed digits, suffocates and dies.

In retaliation, a broken Pádraic burns down Colm’s house with Colm inside. The local policeman, Peadar (Gary Lydon), who is also Dominic’s sexually abusive father, sees this and rushes to Pádraic’s house to beat him senseless. On the way, he meets the elderly Mrs. McCormack (Sheila Flitton), who wordlessly leads him to her son’s waterlogged corpse. Barry Keoghan’s Banshees of the Inisherin character kills himself off-screen, disillusioned by the depth of Pádraic’s cruelty, Siobhán’s departure, and his father’s sexual and physical abuse. The next morning, Colm meets Pádraic and suggests that their feud has come to an end. Pádraic informs his former friend that Colm’s debt will not be settled until one of them is dead.

Did Mrs McCormack’s prediction come true?

Mrs McCormack in The Banshees of Inisherin

The creepy Mrs. McCormack initially seems like an annoying old woman when she is first introduced early on Banshees of Inisherin. However, she later takes on a more sinister meaning as she acts more like the titular mythological figures and warns Pádraic that a death or two will visit the island before the month is out. Although there are no literal banshees seen in the film, Mrs McCormack’s prediction turns out to be correct – crucial to the real meaning of Banshees of Inisherin ending, explained in terms of the film’s mythological themes. Dominic dies and Mrs. McCormack is the one who finds his body, while Pádraic’s precious pony, Jenny, can be considered the second death in her prophecy, if animals count.

However, this is more than likely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mrs. McCormack is initially established as a nosy neighbor and an unpleasant gossip, so it stands to reason that she might have told Pádraic about these potential deaths to exacerbate his existing paranoia and escalate his battle with Colm. Like most of Inisherin’s parochial, malevolent denizens, Mrs. McCormack struggles to leave Pádraic alone when the opportunity to mess with his head is available. As such, if her prophecy comes true, it is as much because she is toying with Pádraic as it is evidence of any supernatural occurrence. In any case, Mrs. McCormack is certainly one of the reasons for that Bansees of the Inisherin counts among Martin McDonagh’s best films.

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Is Pádraic and Colm’s feud finally over?

Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees Of Inisherin
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees Of Inisherin

Pádraic and Colm’s feud is empathetically not over Banshees of Inisherin End. While unhinged enough to cut off his fingers to make room from Pádraic, Colm shows real remorse for the first time when he learns that he accidentally caused Jenny’s death. This, along with losing his house to a fire, leads Colm to assume that he and Pádraic are now equals. However, Pádraic’s character has also undergone a meaningful shift, abandoning the niceness that defined him at the beginning of the film. IN Banshees of InisherinIn its conclusion, Pádraic decides on mutually assured destruction over peace.

While Colm hopes to secure a musical legacy by distancing himself from his former friend, he instead ends up igniting a feud that looks set to kill them both – in stark contrast to the idyllic setting Banshees of Inisherin establishes itself in the beginning. Actually while Pádraic started Banshees of Inisherin blissfully unaware of the limitations of his small-town existence, he ends the film’s story as a vicious, hate-driven figure who has no interest in reconciling with Colm. Although the pair have held on to their shared humanity – as evidenced by the tragicomic moment when Colm thanks Pádraic for taking care of his dog and Pádraic assures him it was no problem – their relationship is irretrievably damaged. With neither man planning to leave the island, the feud between the two will only get worse and worse.

What The Banshees of Inisherin’s Ending Really Means

Siobhan and Padraic speak in The Banshees of Inisherin

Like the end of Three billboards outside Ebbing, MissouriMartin McDonagh’s previous films, Banshees of Inisherin‘s final scenes are left ambiguous. To understand Banshees of Inisherinthe end, the historical and cultural context of its surroundings is important. The film takes place in 1923, at the height of the Irish Civil War, on a fictional Irish island whose name translates to “the island of Ireland.” While Irish literature, poetry and music of a few years earlier rightly celebrated and immortalized the triumphant defeat of English colonial rule in Ireland, works mythologizing the subsequent civil war were few and far between. There was nothing beautiful, uplifting or awe-inspiring about a war that tore families apart and pitted friends against each other, which also helps pinpoint exactly when Banshees of Inisherin occurs.

Banshees of Inisherin sees Colm trying to cement an artistic legacy for himself by abandoning niceness, but this prompts Pádraic to remark that Colm hypocritically sees nothing wrong with befriending a child-abusing corrupt cop, while refusing to speak to Pádraic because he is “boring.” At the end of Banshees of InisherinColm yearns for a return to the dullness of his former friendship, no longer in love with romantic ideals of suffering now that he has lost his fingers and his home to a futile battle of wills.

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However, Colm and Pádraic cannot return as, like the land they are so close to, they are now torn apart by their differences, locked in a struggle that will ultimately cost them their lives. The character’s drastic but believable development underlines why Padraic is among Colin Farrell’s best film roles. IN Banshees of Inisherinthe end Colm gets the terrible beauty, artistic inspiration, and deep meaning he sought, but it comes at the cost of his friendship with Pádraic, his home, and ironically, even the ability to play the mournful music he so loves.

What Banshess Of Inisherin Means To Director Martin McDonagh

Filmmaker Martin McDonagh in a film collage with Frances McDormand in Three Billboards and Colin Farrell in In Bruges

That Banshees of the Inisherin ending – explained from director Martin McDonagh’s point of view – is also about the importance of telling an authentic human story. While McDonagh has been criticized for his use of Irish archetypes to portray the inhabitants of the island, these exaggerated characteristics also serve as allegorical devices for the real story he wanted to tell. “The starting point was to capture the sadness of a breakup, be it a breakup of love or a breakup of friendship.” McDonagh said in an interview (via IndieWire). “Being on both sides of it is such a horrible position. Treating the sadness of both sides as truthfully as possible was the main thing I wanted to get right with this.” This further explains why Colm and Pádraic’s feud is never resolved: it is meant to evoke the inherent trauma of any meaningful human relationship. Considering how Banshees of Inisherin won the 2023 Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy, McDonagh undoubtedly succeeded in what he set out to do.

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