Offering an Oscar-winning combination of cinematic scenery, a movie trail break will put you in the front row for all the best blockbusters filmed in Ireland.
It’s a great way of seeing some stunning parts of Ireland, including Wicklow, Kerry, Clare and Donegal.
Wicklow could be renamed the Film Set of Ireland, with hundreds of international films made here. Ardmore Studios in Bray has helped create dozens of blockbuster movies, including Mel Gibson’s epic Braveheart. Follow in his footsteps along the Braveheart Drive (80km) which begins in the perfectly cast West Wicklow village of Hollywood.
The Michael Collins Drive (72km) is named after Neil Jordan’s historical movie starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts. It brings you into Wicklow Town – where scenes from Pierce Brosnan’s 1988 film Taffin were also shot in local pub ‘Phil Healy’s’. Don’t miss the town’s Historic Gaol before heading out to Rathdrum, whose heritage square is the scene of the mass rallies in Michael Collins and a video by The Spice Girls. A detour to the pretty little village of Avoca will bring you to the home of TV’s Ballykissangel.
Take the 50km Excalibur drive in the north of the county, named in honour of John Boorman’s Arthurian film. Beginning and ending in Roundwood it leads you around magical Lough Tay and views over the Luggala Estate. Visit the picturesque town of Bray, home to period dramas such as Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon as well as hit TV show The Tudors.
Get your cameras rolling in the heritage seaside town of Youghal, in East Cork, and follow in the footsteps of one of the most famous movies to be shot on these shores – John Huston’s 1956 epic Moby Dick.
Travel to West Cork and visit the historic locations referred to in Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins movie, including Beal na Blath, scene of Collins’ assassination, before visiting the Michael Collins Centre in Clonakilty.
The Civil War theme was revisited more recently by Ken Loach’s 2006 film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley about an ambush in Kilmichael, Co. Cork starring local actor Cillian Murphy.
Kerry is always ready for its close up which is why its stunning scenery was selected by film maker David Lean as the setting for his masterpiece Ryan’s Daughter, a love triangle with a 1916 backdrop. Lean’s massive budget extended to building an entire mountain top village from scratch, the schoolhouse and cobbled streets of which you can still see today – though the houses were taken down. The stunning Coumeenole Beach, on the spectacular Slea Head drive, is still there for all to enjoy.
Ron Howard’s film Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, was also filmed in the area. The movie gave Dublin city a co-starring role, with the cobbled streets around Temple Bar doubling for 19th century Boston. But the opening scenes are set around Clogher Strand, Slea Head and on the Dingle Peninsula, with beautiful views that stretch across to the Blasket Islands.
Clare and Galway
Kilfenora is home of the ‘parochial house’ in the smash hit TV series Father Ted. Though the opening credits of the show feature an aerial view of Craggy Island – aka Inis Oirr, off Co. Galway – Father Crilly’s home is not to be missed, be sure to take a guided tour. Combine it all with a visit to the beautiful village of Roundstone, Co. Galway, which featured in Jim Sheridan’s film Into the West, starring Gabriel Byrne.
Or break for the Mayo border to beautiful Leenane, Co. Galway, alongside Ireland’s only fjord, where the film version of John B Keane’s The Field was shot, with Tom Berenger and Richard Harris battling it out for land.
Visit the lakes around Cong in Co. Mayo to see where John Ford’s big budget Hollywood blockbuster The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. You can book a guided tour of all the lovingly preserved locations from the movie and don’t miss the Quiet Man Cottage Museum – a replica of the cottage that featured in the film.
The gorgeous village of Cong, home to stately Ashford Castle, is something of a screen veteran, having also featured in The Purple Taxi, the 1970s movie which marked Fred Astaire’s last feature film appearance and one of Charlotte Rampling’s first.
For more information visit www.discoverireland.ie