Ireland’s animation studios have emerged as a significant force in the global market, harnessing their unique position as the sole English-speaking country in the European Union and strategically leveraging funding partnerships because of their geographical positioning between both American and European sources. 

Over the past two decades, animation in Ireland has undergone a remarkable transformation, garnering consistent international recognition and establishing itself as a powerhouse in the global animation landscape (Screen Ireland 2023). Prior to the early 2000’s, numerous attempts by foreign filmmakers to establish their studios in Ireland ended with their departure. While authors, such as Maureen Furniss, have embarked on presenting a global history of animation, Ireland seldom features in these such texts. There is little reference to Irish animation other than its links to foreign studios in Furniss’ Animation: A Global History (Furniss 2017, 342). This is not the fault of the author. There is little research and limited access to surviving works that highlight the appetite for animation in Ireland. Bendazzi wrote of the “foreign origins” of the Irish animation industry and its establishment as an expansion of American operations (Bendazzi 1994, 302). Examples that represent both the American and European studio setups in Ireland areis the so-called “Walt Disney of Europe”, Hans Fischerkoesen (1896-1973) and the ex-Disney American animator, Don Bluth (1934-present).

National Talent Academy for Animation – Animation Fair 2023. Interviews and Portfolio Review. Hosted by Technological University of the Shannon: Athlone Campus, May 26 2023.

Accounts of Hans Fischerkoesen’s career are detailed in Giesen and Storm’s 2012 text, Animation Under the Swastika, A History of Trickfilm in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 (Storm 2012, 153-155). Prior to this, Moritz wrote of Fischerkoesen’s extensive career for the Society of Animation Studies (Moritz 1997, 228-240). However, these biographies do not offer any details regarding the last 13 years of his career. From Irish newspaper articles, Fischerkoesen’s biography can be extended to include an active filmography up to his death in 1973. Fischerkoesen had bought a large house in county Limerick in midwest Ireland where he lived with his wife in 1960 and in the same building he established his Irish film studio [i]. He subsequently trained Irish art students from the Limerick School of Art and Design in animation techniques and employed them at the studio. This marked one of the most poignant moments in Irish animation education. However, this remains forgotten in Ireland’s oral animation histories. In fact, Hans Fischerkoesen has faded entirely from all records in Ireland regarding the establishment of an animation industry.   The Fischerkoesen studio was managed by German filmmaker, Gunther Wulff (1927-2007). Wulff was the face of the studio and he subsequently bought the studio and its equipment upon Fischerkoesen’s death in 1973.  Fischerkoesen’s contribution to Irish animation is not recorded and has been entirely forgotten. Comparatively, Don Bluth had established his studio in Dublin in the early 1980s to produce feature films that kept the traditional aesthetics and techniques that he felt were starting to fade at the Disney Studios in Los Angeles. A training program provided by the Ballyfermot College of Further Education in Dublin supported the studio. The Bluth studio employed 350 artists in Dublin in its seven years in operation and produced seven animated feature films before closing its doors. Again, the details of this studio have never been written and are only accessible through the Irish newspaper articles that reported on the employment prospects that the studio provided. The trained Irish animators that remained in the country later became the educators and motivators for the upcoming Irish artists who believed that the country could establish itself in its own right. Through the resilience of Irish creatives and a determination to carve out a niche in the competitive animation market, the industry began to gain momentum in 2001 when Brown Bag Films was nominated for an Academy Award (Farren 2002, 12-14).

National Talent Academy for Animation – Animation Fair 2023. Industry Roundtable Event. Hosted by Technological University of the Shannon: Athlone Campus, May 26 2023.

The main factors that have come to the surface of Irish studios’ accomplishments are their unique Irish culture which drives the aesthetics and style of the content and having established Animation Ireland as a collective voice for the 41, and growing, member studios that it represents [ii]. Animation Ireland maintains regular engagement with key stakeholders such as national and international broadcasters, state funding agencies, revenue authorities, European funding bodies, and state investment agencies. This support has been monumental in the recent success of the sector. The industry’s growth has been significant, with a 27 percent increase in production in 2021 alone. This preceded a decade of expansion, notably a remarkable surge in 2019, which saw the sector quadruple in size. Currently, Irish animation studios collectively employ over two thousand members of staff, with ambitions to further double the sector’s value and increase employment by up to 50 percent before 2028 (Hennessy 2022, 3).

Ireland’s animation industry enjoys a strong international outlook, with studios producing content for major global broadcasters and streaming platforms such as Amazon, Disney Plus, Apple, and Netflix. Irish studios have garnered multiple awards for their TV series and streaming service shows, including Emmy Awards, IFTA Awards, Annie Awards, and BAFTA Awards, as well as multi-Oscar nominations for their feature and short films. Examples include Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar nominations for feature films The Secret of Kells (2009), Song of the Sea (2014) and Wolfwalkers (2020), as well as short film Late Afternoon (2017). Oscar nominations from Brown Bag Films include short films Give Up Your Aul Sins (2001) and Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty (2008).

The industry’s presence at prominent global markets and festivals, including Kidscreen, Annecy and MIPCOM, further enhances its visibility and reach. Through strategic partnerships, collaborations, and investments in talent development, Irish animation has continued to flourish on the global stage. The growth in the industry is supported by the availability of tax incentives targeted at overseas companies to co-produce with Irish studios. This model allows studios to claim back 32 percent of their budget spent in Ireland. Attracting studios from multiple territories has assisted in keeping Irish studios and artists in continuous employment.

National Talent Academy for Animation – Animation Fair 2023. Interviews and Portfolio Review. Hosted by Technological University of the Shannon: Athlone Campus, May 26 2023.

To ensure a growing talent pool for the expanding sector, the number of degree programs and tailored masterclasses available has grown in tandem with the industry’s needs. Together with Screen Ireland and the National Talent Academy, the education sector is building a system of strategic learning opportunities that plug directly into the hiring requirements of the studios. The visibility and accessibility of the studios to young animators is proving to be very beneficial, but it needs sustained input from the studios so that they are sure to see skilled graduates to suit their hiring requirements in the future. The initiatives have sparked international recognition across the animation sector, attracting overseas students to Ireland for both employment and education opportunities. This has strengthened the availability of talent to the studios, while also making the sector very competitive. The Irish animation studio system is a collective effort on the part of the studios themselves and the educators that provide the animators. By nurturing talent, fostering innovation, and embracing diversity, Irish studios are building on their success. By doing so, they are inspiring future generations of animators to make their own impact across Europe.


[i] Extensive exploration of articles written about Fischerkoesen’s film activities in Ireland were found in newspaper titles such as; Irish Examiner, Irish Press, Limerick Leader, Miami Herald, Pittsburgh Press, Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Evening Herald, Evening Echo between 1960 and 1973. Additionally to this, the studio manager, Gunther Wulff, travelled to Ireland in 1954, perhaps as a scout for the studio setup.
[ii] For example, Cartoon Saloon, Brown Bag Films, Boulder Media and Studio Meala.


Bendazzi, Giannalberto. 1994. “Cartoons: 100 Years of Cinema Animation.” 302. Indiana University Press.

Byng, Edward J. 1958. “Walt Disney of West Germany Maps TV Invasion of US.” The Pittsburgh Press. Sunday March.

Farren, Paul. 2002. “Irish Animation: A Brief History.” Film Ireland 12-14.

Furniss, Maureen. 2017. Animation: A Global History. London: Thames & Hudson.

Hennessy, Yvonne. 2022. Skills Gap in Irish Animation Sector. Dublin: Animation Ireland.

Mortiz, William. 1997. “Resistance and subversion in animated films of the Nazi era.” In A Reader in Animation Studies, by Jayne Pilling, 228-240. Indiana University Press.

Screen Ireland. 2023. Screen Ireland. 19 October.

Storm, Rolf Giesen and J. P. 2012. Animation under the Swastika. A History of Trickfilm in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Dr. Yvonne Hennessy a lecturer and program leader in the Department of Media and Design at the Technological University of the Shannon in Ireland.  Her research interests include animation as Irish heritage, women’s contribution to animation, and animation as an arts practice.  She is an animation practitioner. She completed her studies in Dublin before embarking on a career in the animation industry in Ireland and overseas in the early 2000s where she worked within managerial and practical aspects of animation production on television series and feature films for global release.