If you’ve been catching up on Star Wars or Yorgos Lanthimos’s creations before last year’s Oscar-nominated The Favourite, maybe these scenic filming locations in Ireland will give you a feeling of déjà vu. Take this virtual tour of Ireland’s top movie and TV locations and be transported to new, magical worlds without leaving home.
10 famous filming locations across Ireland
1. The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher are hands down one of the most spectacular filming locations in Ireland. These impressive crags were featured in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Ireland’s most famous cliffs also double as The Cliffs of Insanity in the 1987 comedy adventure film The Princess Bride. Other movies shot here include popular Irish movies Ryan’s Daughter and Into The West.
2. Trim Castle, County Meath
Most Braveheart fans would be forgiven for thinking the entire biopic of Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace was filmed in Scotland. But many of the battle scenes were actually shot across the water in Ireland. Trim Castle in County Meath, the largest Norman Castle in the Irish republic, was used as the city of York in the movie. Nearby Bective Abbey was also the filming location for the scene where the princess converses with her maid.
3. Kilmainham Gaol, County Dublin
Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin offers an insightful look into Ireland’s turbulent past, as this is where many Irish revolutionaries were locked up after the 1916 Easter Rising. Alongside some of Ireland’s most famous freedom fighters, many fictional characters have also been banged up here over the years. Those include a very young Michael Caine in the The Italian Job, Liam Neeson in the Irish historical biopic Michael Collins and Cillian Murphy in the 1996 movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley. A music video for Ireland’s most famous rock band U2 was also filmed in the prison back in 1982!
4. Parknasilla, County Kerry
The picturesque grounds of Parknasilla Resort, an eighteenth century manor house and four-star hotel in County Kerry, is where The Lobster was filmed. The critically acclaimed film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, is set in the future and involves singletons checking into a resort and being given 45 days to find a partner. If they fail to do so, they will be turned into animals and released into the wild! The incredibly romantic Parknasilla Resort is set among 500 acres of untouched wilderness and endless hiking trails, which run alongside Kenmare Bay.
5. Grafton Street, Dublin City Centre
Ireland’s most famous street, Grafton street has welcomed many big-name movies over the years. The most popular being Irish musical Once, starring Glen Hansard from The Frames, who plays a struggling street musician alongside Czech immigrant Marketa Irglova.
Many famous Irish musicians started their days busking on Grafton Street before they got their big break. Among them, The Script and U2. Many of these famous musicians return to Dublin each December to busk on Grafton street on Christmas Eve, in what is now a much-loved Christmas tradition. Head there over the festive season and you may just be able to catch ‘the next big thing’!
6. Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow
The colorful Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, known as Ireland’s garden county, has been a filming location for over 25 movie and TV productions. It all begun in 1944 with the filming of Henry V. Some of the best known movies shot here in recent years include scenes from King Arthur with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, Ella Enchanted, a modern day take on Cinderella, the 1970 production of Black Beauty and TV series The Tudors, starring Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Here’s our pick of the most atmospheric Irish castles.
7. Youghal, County Cork
The seaside town of Youghal in the south of Ireland is the iconic filming location of the 1956 film Moby Dick. The historic walled town was used as the setting for ‘New Bedford’ in the movie, which featured old Hollywood movie legends Gregory Peck and Richard Basehart. The town is now home to Moby Dick’s pub, which was said to be a favourite watering hole of the film’s director John Huston. Youghal has really capitalised on the film’s fame and also hosts annual Moby Dick themed events, including the Moby Dick Festival and the Moby Dick Triathlon.
8. Curracloe Strand, County Wexford
Curracloe Strand in Ballinesker – in the sunny south east, as County Wexford is affectionately known – is the filming location for the opening scene (lasting 20 minutes) in the epic American war film Saving Private Ryan. This stunning coastline was transformed into Omaha Beach. It was picked because of its similarity to the historic beach of the same name in Normandy, where the battle actually took place. It is said that over 2,000 men from the Irish Defence Forces were deployed to Wexford to help with the filming of this scene, which took almost two months to complete.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the best beaches in Ireland.
9. Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College Dublin, situated in the most central part of Dublin city, has always been a popular filming location in Ireland. The beautiful grounds of the university, which was founded in 1592 and is one of the oldest in the world, was the setting for 1983 comedy/drama Educating Rita, starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Funnily enough, Trinity College was chosen because it looked like a “typical English university”! Bollywood movie Ek The Tiger, one of the biggest grossing movies of all time in India, was also filmed in Trinity, with many of the university’s students standing in as extras.
10. Skellig Michael, County Kerry
Saved the best filming location for last. It’s easy to see why directors and producers regularly choose Skellig Michael for a stunning scene backdrop. This rocky outcrop of an island 11km off the Kerry coastline is home to a well-conserved sixth century monastic settlement and one of the largest puffin colonies in Ireland. It also stars in 2015 blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Director JJ Abrams picked Skellig Michael as the filming location for key scenes. While he was given the choice of many incredible destinations, he stated that nothing came close to this secret Irish island. The island is very tricky to get to, with boats only departing when the weather and tides are just right. And no one is allowed to stay on the island more than a few hours.
Looking for more escapism without leaving home? Check these out:
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- 12 of the most beautiful beaches in the world – in pictures
10 spectacular filming locations in Ireland
|1. The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare||Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The Princess Bride, Ryan’s Daughter, Into The West|
|2. Trim Castle, County Meath||Braveheart|
|3. Kilmainham Gaol, County Dublin||The Italian Job, Michael Collins, The Wind That Shakes The Barley|
|4. Parknasilla, County Kerry||The Lobster|
|5. Grafton Street, Dublin City Centre||Once|
|6. Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow||Henry V, King Arthur, Ella Enchanted, Black Beauty, The Tudors|
|7. Youghal, County Cork||Moby Dick|
|8. Curracloe Strand, County Wexford||Saving Private Ryan|
|9. Trinity College, Dublin||Educating Rita, Ek The Tiger|
|10. Skellig Michael, County Kerry||Star Wars: The Force Awakens|
*Updated April 2020. Information correct at the time of publication and subject to change and/or availability.