Ireland: on location

In association with: Tourism Ireland

Stunning landscapes have provided some of cinema and TV’s most magical locations

The island of Ireland is the star of the show when it comes to the big and small screen. Its beguiling mix of dramatic coastline, rolling green heartland, parkland estates, elegant cities and ancient sites offers TV and film location scouts everything they could want – while also providing visitors with a heady mix of stunning landscapes and attractions.

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Stars on the screen

Visit almost any part of the island of Ireland and you’ll come across wide‑eyed tourists from across the globe tracking down Game of Thrones and Harry Potter locations. Northern Ireland’s spectacular natural features – wild coastline, dramatic formations and verdant landscapes – make splendid stand‑ins for a mythical world populated by dragons, witches, giants and warrior kings.

The region’s captivating scenery also proved rich pickings for the film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl II, with much of it shot along the Causeway Coastal Route. Take a stroll through Derry~Londonderry and you’re sure to recognise some of the spots from series three of Derry Girls, which hit our screens in April.

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Belfast and the north of Co Antrim are also home to some of the show’s filming locations, including Smithfield Market and St Mary’s University. And stop by the giant mural where the five main characters are painted on a wall opposite Foyleside Shopping Centre in the heart of Derry~Londonderry. But Northern Ireland doesn’t hog all the limelight when it comes to phenomenal landscapes.

The craggy Cliffs of Moher along the Wild Atlantic Way provide one of Ireland’s most atmospheric filming spots, earning it a starring role in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, while 100 miles to the south, the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula in Co Kerry also featured in the film. Both are must-see locations for any visitor to Ireland – as is, farther south along this diverse coast, perhaps the most famous and one of the most spectacular film locations on the island.

Skellig Michael, the rocky outcrop seven miles off the Kerry coastline, with its well-preserved 6th-century monastic settlement, provided the perfect retreat for Luke Skywalker in 2015 blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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A step back in time

Not to be outdone, Ireland’s Ancient East is a region that’s as varied as it is arresting. The stunning coastline of Co Wexford’s Curracloe Strand in Ballinesker was evocatively transformed into Normandy’s Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan, and later starred in Brooklyn, which also made much use of Co Wexford’s medieval landscapes and the picturesque town of Enniscorthy.

And it’s on the east coast that Ireland’s garden county is best encapsulated in the romantic grounds of Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow – so elegant that it’s starred in a whopping 25 productions harking back to the 1944 film Henry V.

Nearby, Co Meath’s Trim Castle, the largest Norman castle in Ireland, is famed as the home of Braveheart, while the atmospheric 12th-century ruins of the lovely Boyne Valley’s Bective Abbey nearby also made their mark in the film, as did locations in Counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow, which all filled in for Scotland.

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Household names

Offering a 21st-century counterpoint to the miles of ancient coastline, the city of Dublin has had its own fair share of movie stars treading its cobbled streets. With its beautiful grounds and 16th-century buildings, Trinity College Dublin has been a temporary home to everyone from Michael Caine and Julie Walters in Educating Rita to, more recently, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal in Normal People.

Head southeast along the coast and the landscape changes again, as shown to great effect in the 1956 film Moby Dick, filmed in the historic walled seaside town of Youghal. But exploring parts of Ireland that haven’t been discovered by the location scouts reaps its own rewards.

In the Hidden Heartlands region, stretching from Leitrim to Limerick along the River Shannon, the focus on nature, lakes and soft adventures takes you away from it all. And who knows, in Boyle, you might even bump into local boy-turned- Hollywood-star Chris O’Dowd, who filmed part of his comedy series Moone Boy around the town.

Whether your clients are avid cinema-goers or just want to admire location hotspots, press the green button and book their trips now.

PICTURES: Failte Ireland & Tourism Ireland/Chris Hill; Tourism Ireland/Tom Archer; Tourism Northern Ireland; Chris Hill Photographic

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