Lights, Camera, Ireland
Time to grab some popcorn, get comfy and discover some of the movies and programmes which were filmed around Ireland.
With such natural, scenic, showstoppers and acres of rolling green pastures, an epic coastline, iconic cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, and a warm Irish welcome, it’s no surprise that huge film and TV productions are choosing Ireland as their destination. It’s hard to resist falling in love with Ireland.
Here are just some of the spectacular filming locations in Ireland……
The magical Cliffs of Moher in County Clare has featured in a number of films including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The Princess Bride, Ryan’s Daughter, and Into The West. We can’t really fault the filmmakers for being charmed by this beautiful and dramatic scenic spot. These iconic cliffs are pretty magical on and off screen.
Location shooting for popular “Father Ted” TV series was done mostly in County Clare, and included locations such as Ennis, Ennistymon, Kilfenora, and Kilnaboy. The opening sequence of Fr Ted (including shots of the Plassey ship wreck) were filmed over Inis Oírr – the smallest of the Aran Islands and the Parochial House is McCormack’s at Glenquin, on the Boston road from Kilnaboy in County Clare.
The strange, isolated landscape of Skellig Michael island off the coast of County Kerry was a key location for the iconic Star Wars series, The Force Awakens and the last Jedi. Visitors can admire its unique silhouette from land on the Ring of Kerry route or from Bray Head, and the island itself can take a small amount of visitors from passenger boats between May to September.
The star studded comedy, “The Lobster”, which won the Jury Prize at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, was filmed in a number of scenic locations around County Kerry including the beautiful Beara Peninsula and the charming Dromore Woods.
The Oscar-winning movie, “Ryan’s Daughter“, directed by David Lean and starring Robert Mitchum was filmed along the strikingly beautiful Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head, Dunmore Head and the famous opening scene featured Inch Strand.
The same idyllic locations were also used over 30 years later for the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman movie “Far and Away“.
The 1981 Oscar nominated fantasy action film, “Excalibur”, was filmed entirely in Ireland by British director and Irish resident John Boorman, including at Derrynane in County Kerry.
The historical drama, “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” was filmed across much of County Cork including, the hilly countryside of the Haven Coast, Ballyvorney, Bandon and Timoleague, West Cork.
Youghal in County Cork was the setting for John Huston’s film adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick“, starring Gregory Peck. You can view some film memorabilia and pictures from the set in the Moby Dick pub in the town centre of Youghal.
The light hearted film, “War of the Buttons” had scenes filmed in Castletownsend. West Cork.
The harrowing and dramatic opening D-Day scenes in Steven Spielberg’s movie Saving Private Ryan were filmed on the stunning Curracloe Strand in County Wexford.
The film “Brookyln” takes you back to 1950’s Ireland and was partly filmed in Enniscorthy in County Wexford. Curracloe Strand and Ballinesker Beach also feature in the movie, which earned an Oscar nomination for it’s Irish star actor Saoirse Ronan.
Based on Norse legends, TV’s Vikings has been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic – Filmed primarily in the wilds of the Wicklow Mountains and the tranquil setting of Powerscourt, Vikings makes use of Ireland’s raging waterfalls, winding rivers and impenetrable forests to bring 13th-century Scandinavia to life.
Over 50 different movies and TV series, including King Arthur, Ella Enchanted, The Count of Monte Christo, Black Beauty, and The Tudors, have been shot at the Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, since Laurence Olivier started the trend by filming Henry V here in 1944. Some of these movies have also been filmed at the Powerscourt Waterfall with its ageless stunning backdrop.
The romantic drama, “P.S I Love You” features more stunning locations of County Wicklow, including Kilruddery House, Lacken Village, the Sally Gap and the scenic backdrops of the Wicklow Way.
Dublin City and County.
The courtyard and the atmospheric Victorian East Wing of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin city has starred in a number of films including the Italian Job, In the Name of the Father, Michael Collins, Paddington 2 and the Wind that Shakes the Barley.
The Oscar winning movie “Once” features the famous locations of Dublin City, such as St Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street, Mountjoy Square, Temple Bar and Killiney Hill in South County Dublin. The duo perform the song “Falling Slowly” at Walton’s Music shop on South Great George’s Street.
“Sing Street“, directed by John Carney, beautifully captures many of Dublin City’s tree lined avenues and parks and also the seaside town of Dalkey in South County Dublin. This musical tribute tells the story of teenagers forming a band in the 80’s.
The movie “Michael Collins“, staring Liam Neeson and directed by Neil Jordan in 1996, was shot on location in Dublin City and the scenes filmed around Dublin Castle are particularly memorable. Other parts were filmed in the Wicklow mountains. This movie tells the story of Michael Collins (known as “the big fellow”) from Clonakilty, Co Cork who helped bring about Ireland’s Independence.
The majority of filming of Normal People in Dublin took place at the historic Trinity College, where it’s author Sally Rooney was a student herself. The notable filming locations include the Front Square, where Marianne and Connell receive their scholarships, and the neo-Gothic Graduates Memorial Building, haunt of their student friends in the debating society. Marianne’s gorgeous student home is in Dublin’s affluent Ballsbridge neighborhood, while Shankill in south Dublin is home to Connell’s more humble student accommodation.
Trinity College was also a film location for Educating Rita and for EK The Tiger.
The Norman stronghold, Trim Castle in the Royal County of Meath is one of the real stars of Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart“, with it’s medieval keep and battlements and it doubles in this film as the walled City of York. About five miles northeast of Trim is Bective Abbey, a Cistercian abbey on the River Boyne in Bective, County Meath, which served as the courtyard of Longshanks’ castle, and also supplied the dungeons in which Wallace is imprisoned. ‘Westminster Abbey’, where the preposterously fey Prince Edward (the future Edward II) reluctantly marries Isabella, is the 15th century St Nicholas Church and Dunsany Castle, in the townland of Dunsany, between Trim and the village of Dunshaughlin in County Meath. For those looking for magestic scenery, this movie will give you some fantastic views of Ireland, doubling as Scotland.
HBO’s Game of Thrones®, which became a worldwide phenomenon over the course of its award winning seven seasons, was partly filmed at Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down. Castle Ward’s historic farmyard is the location of Winterfell, the backdrop for the series pilot and much of season one. HBO’s Game of Thrones® spent eight weeks at Castle Ward building the set of Winterfell ahead of the pilot episode and hundreds of actors and crew worked on filming here.
Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in “Philomena”, which was also filmed in County Down. Based on a true story about a woman searching for her long lost son, the authentic film features a number of locations of County Down including the harbour village of Killyleagh and Rostrevor at the foot of Slieve Martin.
The seaside village of Killough in County Down is shown in all its authentic charm in the Northern Irish, Oscar-winning short film, “The Shore“, directed by Terry George and staring Ciaran Hinds and Conleth Hill.
The British-Irish crime drama, The Fall, featuring Jamie Dornan, is predominantly set in Belfast City and is filmed in numerous locations around the city – A number of hotels around Belfast were used for filming the series, including Hilton Hotel, Malmaison Hotel, The Holiday Inn and The Merchant Hotel.
Donaghadee Harbour on the Ards Peninsula, the Merchant Hotel in Belfast City, Royal Avenue, Library Street and Little Donegall Street were all part of the filming locations of the tale of two brothers on their quest for rock stardom in the boisterous movie “Killing Bono“.
The Dark Hedges, near Ballymoney in County Antrim is a popular stop and probably one of the most photographed landmarks for fans exploring the Game of Thrones filming locations. The avenue of beech trees were planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.
Eoin Colfer, author of the best selling children’s book series, Artemis Fowl, was born in Ireland and his homeland featured as the backdrop for the Disney film adaptation. Some of the film locations include the epic Causeway Coastal route, White Rocks Beach and the iconic Dunluce Castle.
If you have seen the hit comedy Derry Girls on Netflix, then you might like to explore the streets and take in the sights of the buzzing historic walled city of Derry, where the programme is filmed on your next visit to Northern Ireland. To celebrate the second series, Channel 4 commissioned local Derry artists, UV Arts CIC, to immortalize the Derry Girls with their very own mural in the city! This colorful, fun and eye catching painting featuring the five main characters can be found in the heart of the Walled City, on the side of Badger’s Bar on Orchard Street.
The period drama “Miss Julie” is filmed in the heart of the County Fermanagh lakelands and the vast and elegant grounds of Castle Coole Mansion near the banks of the River Erne.
Some of the filming locations of the film Calvary, featuring Brendan Gleeson, were around County Sligo and included Streedagh Beach, Benbulben Mountain, Lissadell, Rockwood Parade, Easkey, Ballisodare and Strandhill.
Parts of the BBC’s beloved 12-part series Normal People (2020) was filmed in the Sligo town of Tubbercurry which stood in for the couple’s hometown Carricklea, a fictional town in County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. Marianne and Connell’s secluded dates among windswept dunes were filmed at nearby Streedagh Strand, a sandy beach to the north of Sligo that forms part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
The quintessential Irish village of Cong in County Mayo and on the border of Galway, is perhaps the most famous of the film locations of the “Quiet Man”. The Oscar-winning classic features Ashford Castle and Cong hosts a museum dedicated to the movie. Visitors can take guided tours to the various film locations around Cong, including where the famous fight scene was shot, where Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher courted, the Reverend Playfair’s House and maybe stop for a drink at Pat Cohan’s Bar in the village.
Marley and Me, Tristan and Isolde (starring James Franco), Man of Aran, The Field, Into the West (with Gabriel Byrne), The Matchmaker and, The Guard all brought film crews to the the beautiful Connemara Region in the West of Ireland.
The Oscar nominated film “The Field” is adapted from John B. Keane’s acclaimed play, directed by Jim Sheridan and starring the legendary Richard Harris and an unforgettable John Hurt.
The beautiful stone bridge from the “Quiet Man” where Sean dreamed that his mother told him about White O Mornin Cottage is located over the Owenriff River, just outside Oughterard in County Galway.
Ireland on Screen – An Island Not So Far Away.
Ireland’s breathtaking peninsulas, charming villages and out-of-this-world heritage sites continue to provide the backdrop for many programmes and films. Contact Specialized Travel Services to plan your next vacation in the Emerald Isle and to discover all the famous filming locations that put Ireland on the big screen, from the Game of Thrones in Down and Antrim to Star Wars in Kerry.
Have a look at some of our luxury private chauffeur drive tours for further inspiration on what to explore in Ireland, keep an eye on our face book page and if you would like to organise your personalized tour of Ireland send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
See for real what you’ve seen on screen……. in an island not so far away.
Note: Featured image at the top of the blog is of the Skellig Michael County Kerry in Star Wars – Photographer: Tom Archer © Tourism Ireland
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