Take a trip around the film and television locations that have made Ireland a star.
Harry Potter, Star Wars, Braveheart – iconic films are shot in iconic places. And in Ireland, we have iconic places by the bucketload. Our breathtaking peninsulas, charming villages and out-of-this-world heritage sites have all featured on celluloid over the years, but trust us – that’s just the beginning.
Northern Ireland on screen
Northern Ireland’s cinematic heritage is rich and diverse: get ready to visit lush green gardens, the pulsing city of Belfast and locations from a little show called Game of Thrones®…
Play the Game of Thrones® at Winterfell
Game of Thrones® is nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon. Since the very first series, some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning locations have doubled as the wild world of Westeros. But the most iconic stop off? It’s got to be Castle Ward, otherwise known as Winterfell, the ancestral home of the Stark family. Head there for the full Westerosi experience – just keep an eye out for direwolves!
Winterfell is just the start – take a tour through Game of Thrones® territory.
Feel the good vibrations in Belfast
Belfast has an epic music scene – and an almost mythical figure on that scene is record shop owner and godfather of Belfast punk Terri Hooley. Good Vibrations is the story of his quest to bring new music to the city in the early 1970s: it’s a feel-good classic with a fantastic soundtrack and was filmed right here in buzzing Belfast city. While Terri’s store has sadly closed down, you can take a trip to the city’s Oh Yeah Music Centre, where you can discover the very best of Belfast rock ‘n’ roll.
If you’re feeling peckish, the super-cool Coppi serves delicious Italian dishes, along with some excellent tapas.
Miss Julie-style elegance in County Fermanagh
If you like your period dramas with a dash of darkness, Miss Julie is for you. Set and shot at the opulent Castle Coole in County Fermanagh, this tale of love and power is a must for any Downton Abbey fans. Get the full 19th century experience by visiting Castle Coole. Here, you can delve into the estate’s elegant past on a National Trust guided tour – period costumes optional.
Head to the nearby Lough Erne Resort and experience some of Northern Ireland’s finest fare at Catalina Restaurant.
Wild Atlantic Way on Screen
Waves crashing violently against cliff faces, achingly beautiful skylines that stretch as far as the eye can see and some of the most iconic natural landscapes in the world – it’s no surprise that the Wild Atlantic Way has its name up in lights!
Discover a galaxy far, far away in County Donegal
The cast, crew and droids of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi made a pit-stop at the breathtaking Malin Head for filming, and they fell in love with the Wild Atlantic Way. Filming all around County Donegal, the cast even made time to stop off in Farren’s Bar for a pint. To explore this part of the Wild Atlantic Way is to take a walk on the wild side, so slow down and soak up the sights between Malin Head and Donegal Town. And if you can catch them, don’t miss the Northern Lights appearing over the ancient stone fort, Grianán of Aileach – spectacular.
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME
Grab a bite to eat in the award-winning Harry’s Bar in Inishowen: their fish is caught at Greencastle Harbour a mere half-hour away.
Visit the home of The Quiet Man, County Mayo
Want to travel back in time? The lively village of Cong is where you want to be. Back in 1952, film legend John Wayne shot The Quiet Man here, and the rest, as they say, is history. The village retains so much of its charm, even sixty years later, and is home to The Quiet Man Cottage Museum, where you can experience Cong just as it was in the film.
Head to the cute village of Oughterard to spot the now-famous Quiet Man bridge: a perfect photo op!
Follow Harry Potter to the Cliffs of Moher
A million hearts broke when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came to our screens and we said goodbye to the beloved Albus Dumbledore. The location for the film’s dramatic climax in the Horcrux Cave? The legendary Cliffs of Moher. While we don’t recommend climbing down to one of the caves like Harry and Dumbledore did, the cliffs have plenty to keep you occupied on their own. The 120-metre (390ft) face is home to hundreds of seabirds and some of the best views on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Head into the charming town of Ennis for a slap-up meal at The Dining Room. We’d recommend the beef with celeriac, carrot, parsnips and mash.
Feel the Force on Skellig Michael
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens brought the Star Wars universe back with a bang. Its iconic final scene was filmed on Skellig Michael, a tiny island whose monastic settlement dates back to the sixth century. The monks lived austere lives on this wind-chilled island long before it became the home of everyone’s favourite Jedi knight. Known for its varied wildlife and the mysterious beehive huts the monks used for shelter, Skellig Michael is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s hoping it pops up again in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi!
Can’t get out to Skellig Michael? Take a boat ride around the islands from Portmagee
Ireland’s Ancient East on screen
Ireland’s Ancient East is the land of history and stories – they’ve been spinning tales here for thousands of years. So, when it came to finding that perfect filming location for some of the biggest blockbusters of recent times, it really was a no-brainer to head here.
A stroll along Brooklyn’s beach, County Wexford
Starring Irish actors Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson, Brooklyn tells a profoundly beautiful story about love and what it means to be home. The scenes set in Ireland were filmed in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, a picturesque town that’s rich in history – check out the gorgeous Enniscorthy Castle while you’re visiting, which dates back to 1190.
COME AT FESTIVAL TIME
Every October, Wexford Festival Opera lights up the town with an eclectic blend of music and theatre. Don’t miss it!
Saving Private Ryan in County Wexford
World War II drama Saving Private Ryan is simply captivating – it rightly won five Oscars upon its release, and has gone down in history as one of the great war movies of our times. But did you know that the iconic opening scenes of the Normandy landings were actually filmed on Curracloe Beach in County Wexford? Curracloe’s white sands and roaring waves are simply spectacular and as you stroll along the strand, you’ll see why director Steven Spielberg just couldn’t resist it.
Just outside the village of Duncannon, Aldridge Lodge is an award-winning restaurant serving delicious local and home-grown produce. A little gem.
Ride with Braveheart in County Meath
Mel Gibson’s film about Scottish rebel William Wallace may have been Oscar-worthy, but Ireland’s lush, green landscapes steal the spotlight. Braveheart was filmed in part at Trim Castle, an Anglo-Norman structure that is perhaps one of the most iconic castles on the island. Its grounds are open for the public to explore all year around, too. Our advice? Take a guided tour for the inside scoop on this amazing building.
If you’re in Meath, the passage tomb of Newgrange is a must-see – the site is even older than the pyramids of Egypt!
Run with Vikings in County Wicklow
Based on Norse legends, TV’s Vikings has been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to the sumptuous filming locations of the show. Filmed primarily in the wilds of the Wicklow Mountains, Vikings makes use of Ireland’s raging waterfalls, winding rivers and impenetrable forests to bring 13th-century Scandinavia to life. Fun fact: Vikings has also starred numerous actors from Ireland, including the legendary Gabriel Byrne!
One of Vikings’ iconic raid scenes was shot at Powerscourt Demesne, a beautiful place to spend a day and stop in for coffee and cake.
Dublin on screen
Dublin is a city of two halves: it’s modern yet traditional, buzzing yet relaxed – and it’s one of the friendliest cities in the world, according to readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Maybe it’s this duality that has filmmakers returning again and again to Dublin…
Head to Sing Street
Sing Street has been a breakout star of Ireland’s film industry. Filmed and set entirely in Dublin, the city streets are taken back to the 1980s – but Sing Street’s pivotal scenes take place in the seaside village of Dalkey. This quintessentially Dublin village is home to friendly locals and traditional pubs – and it’s well worth a day trip to get away from the city crowds.
Dalkey welcomes a dazzling array of literary stars when the Dalkey Book Festival rolls into town in June.
Wander through Dublin, the star of Once
Once is a story of a man, a woman and an unusual situation in the heart of a modern city, Dublin. Set in the city centre, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s characters use Dublin as a stunning backdrop to their love story. Featuring famous places such as Grafton Street, Temple Bar and St Stephen’s Green, this Oscar-winner is, quite simply, a love letter to Dublin.
There’s more to Dublin than what you see in Once – and it’s so compact that you can explore the best of the city in 48 hours!
Discover the story of Michael Collins at Dublin Castle
Liam Neeson has had a long and varied career, but it’s hard to top his role as revolutionary leader Michael Collins. Much of the high-octane action of the film takes place in Dublin and the scenes filmed around Dublin Castle are particularly memorable. This ornate building has stood in the city centre for over 800 years and has served every purpose from defensive to ceremonial (the inauguration of Ireland’s president takes place here). Take the tour of the castle – it’s a fascinating slice of Dublin’s history.
The nearby café Queen of Tarts serves delicious, homemade pastries alongside cups of real Irish tea – perfection.
Published with permission from http://www.ireland.com