The island of Ireland has played a very important role in some beloved movies and TV series. Find out where to see the real-life Ireland filming locations from your favorite on-screen universes.
With its stunning landscape, structures ancient and modern, booming film industry, and state-of-the-art studios, Ireland is a sought-after filming location both for movies and series set in Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well for those that take place in fictional worlds.
For fans of the following films and TV shows, a trip to the island of Ireland marks the ultimate pilgrimage - a chance to walk in the footsteps of Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, the scheming Lannisters and noble Starks, Rey and Luke Skywalker, young Artemis Fowl, and so many more.
9 Famous Film Locations in Ireland You Can Actually Visit
What do The Quiet Man, Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones® have in common? They were all filmed in locations on the island of Ireland. Tourism IrelandPubliée par IrishCentral.com sur Jeudi 22 août 2019
Written and created by Lisa McGee, Derry Girls follows the travails and shenanigans of a group of teenage girls (and a boy whom they think of as one of them) in 1990s Derry-Londonderry. The series is filmed primarily in the beautiful Walled City of Derry, with some interior scenes shot on sound stages in Belfast.
For fans of the show, visiting Derry is an absolute must and will give you an even deeper appreciation for the girls’ hometown. Saoirse Monica Jackson, who stars as Erin Quinn, told The Express that the show’s director, Mike Lennox, had no problem letting members of the public observe filming in Derry. “When shooting outside, Mike will always give the scene a real sense of place and I don’t think he minded when the public was watching,” she said. “It was quite a surreal experience when the public was watching, it was nice to get a clap or a round of applause, it felt like a play. Everyone was really respectful as well.”
Game of Thrones
The record-breaking HBO series might be over, but you can still visit your favorite filming locations in Northern Ireland. Game of Thrones filmed at 49 Northern Ireland locations in total from 2010 to 2018. Some of the series’ most pivotal scenes found their real-world settings here, including Winterfell, the home of House Stark (Castle Ward and Demesne in Strangford. Co. Down for the first season and Toome, Co. Antrim for the later seasons); the King’s Road (the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim); and the Wall that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the realm of the Wildlings and the Night King (Magheramorne Quarry in Co. Antrim - with a healthy dose of CGI special visual effects). For the final season, the cast and crew filmed an epic battle sequence for 55 nights straight in the villages of Toome and Magheramore.
For a behind-the-scenes look, head to Belfast City, to the Titanic Quarter, where many of Game of Thrones interior scenes and special effects were filmed over the last 10 years.
The film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s wildly popular sci-fi series about young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II was released in June 2020. Director Kenneth Branagh, born in Belfast, decided to bring the movie home to Northern Ireland and shot much of this Disney production in County Antrim, along the Causeway Coastal Route.
The plot of Artemis Fowl moves between Ireland, the fictional realm of Haven City, and Ho Chi Minh City, among other places. Confirmed Northern Ireland filming locations include Whiterocks Beach in the lovely seaside town of Portrush, the ancient ruins of Dunluce Castle, and the stunning Magheracross viewing point.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth Harry Potter film, combines one of the most famous locations in Ireland with one of the most popular series of all time. The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare play a brief but pivotal role in the movie - when Harry joins Professor Dumbledore in seeking out the third Horcrux needed to destroy Lord Voldemort. The two stand on a steep, sloping rock, with waves crashing and swirling around them. They turn to face an imposing wall of cliffs with a cave at the center, where they must venture.
The cliffs are the Cliffs of Moher, and the rock is Lemon Rock, actually located just under 100 miles to the south down the Wild Atlantic Way, off the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. Both the Cliffs of Moher and the Iveragh Peninsula - world-famous for their natural beauty and stunning views - are must-see locations for any visitor to Ireland, not just Harry Potter fans.
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man, John Ford’s 1952 film starring Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne as Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, was filmed mostly in picturesque rural Galway and south County Mayo. Though the town where the film’s events take place, Innisfree, is made up, you can still visit the iconic filming locations today.
The railway station in the very first scene of the film is Ballyglunin Station in County Galway. It closed for good in 1976 and gradually became derelict, but locals and fans from around the world - including Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne - fundraised to restore it to its former glory. The beautiful stone bridge where Sean dreamed that his mother told him about White O'Morn Cottage is located just outside Oughterard, Galway. The bridge is clearly signposted and remains completely unchanged since the 1950s.
The village of Cong straddles the border of Galway and Mayo and is perhaps the most famous of The Quiet Man’s locations. Cong now hosts a museum dedicated to the movie and visitors can take guided tours to the locations where the famous fight scene was shot, where Sean and Mary Kate courted (and pose with a statue of the lovers), and to see the Dying Man’s house, Pat Cohan’s Bar and the Reverend Playfair’s House
Two Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, each spent significant time filming in Ireland once Lucasfilm realized that the Emerald Isle was the perfect setting for “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” The cast and crew absolutely loved filming in Ireland, sharing effusive posts on social media, and even taking out ads in local newspapers to say thank you.
The most prominent filming location, which first captivated audiences around the world at the end of The Force Awakens as Ahch-To, the planet where Rey goes to find Luke Skywalker, was Skellig Michael. A rocky outcrop off the coast of County Kerry, Skellig Michael was home to a Christian monastery at some point between the 6th and 8th century and then abandoned in the 12th century.
The remains and the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Visiting Skellig Michael takes advance booking with a local boat tour provider during the designated visitor season. Those who wish to stay on terra firma can learn all about the island’s history and ecology at the Skellig Michael Visitor Experience center on Valentia Island.
Taking in all of the Star Wars spots in Ireland pairs especially well with a Wild Atlantic Way road trip. From top to bottom, Star Wars filming locations include Malin Head in County Donegal, Loop Head in County Clare, Ceann Sibéal (Sibyl’s Head) on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, and Brow Head in County Cork.
The Princess Bride
This 1987 film is a childhood favorite, beloved by millions. Always dreamed of visiting the fictional country of Florian? As you wish! One of the movie’s most memorable scenes takes place atop the Cliffs of Insanity, when the mysterious Man in Black battles Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik for the Princess Buttercup.
The Cliffs of Insanity are actually Ireland’s most famous cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
This 1970 film by David Lean adapts Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for the Dingle Peninsula in 1916. It was one of the most epic film shoots Ireland had ever seen - the cast and crew were there for 12 months and built an entire village, Kirrary, at Dunquin overlooking the Blasket Islands. Ryan’s Daughter cemented Dingle’s status as a tourist hot-spot and injected millions into the local economy.
Today, the schoolhouse is the only Kirrary building still standing and is an important site for fans of the film from around the world. The majestic vistas of Dunmore Head and Slea Head are also key sites, as is Coumeenoole Beach.
Ireland’s history was forever changed by the Viking invasions. The proof is in many of Ireland’s place-names, sites of archaeological importance, and even in Irish people’s DNA. So it makes sense that the TV series Vikings, which airs on the History Channel in the US and on RTE in Ireland, would turn to Ireland as its primary filming location.
Since it debuted in 2013, the series has featured a number of Irish actors including Moe Dunford, John Kavanagh, and Johnathan Rhys Meyers, and has filmed at Ashford Studios in Wicklow, around the rugged Wicklow Mountains, and at other locations in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Saving Private Ryan
When Steven Spielberg was filming his 1998 WWII epic film Saving Private Ryan, he ran into a conundrum: how to recreate the D-Day landings at Normandy. He and his crew found the perfect spot in Ireland, at Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand in County Wexford. For two months and a budget of $12 million, Ballinesker became Omaha Beach. What’s more, nearly 2,500 members of the Irish Defence Force’s Army Reserves and Naval Service Reserves worked as extras, even participating in a 10-day boot camp alongside stars Tom Hanks, Ed Burns, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and more.
Another movie that used Curracloe as a filming location is 2015’s Brooklyn, based on Colm Toibin’s acclaimed novel about 1950s emigration from Ireland to America. In the scenes where Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson walk along the beach, they are strolling Curracloe Strand.
Though many of the scenes set in Brooklyn, New York were actually filmed in Montreal, Quebec, when it came to depicting Enniscorthy, County Wexford - Toibin’s hometown and the one he gave Brooklyn’s protagonist Eilis Lacey - only the real place would do. Locations included the historic Athenaeum theatre and St. Aidan’s Cathedral. The second-largest town in County Wexford, Enniscorthy has many important historical sites including Enniscorthy Castle and Vinegar Hill.
Many fans would be surprised to know that much of Braveheart, Mel Gibson's 1995 epic about the first Scottish War of Independence, was actually filmed in Ireland. Locations in counties Meath, Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow filled in for Scotland during filming in 1994.
Trim Castle in County Meath, Ireland’s largest surviving Norman Castle, served as the setting for York. The Curragh, the stunning open plains of County Kildare, were used to film the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Fearless William Wallace escapes on horseback through the land surrounding the Blessington Lakes, where Vikings has filmed more recently, and Robert the Bruce’s stronghold of Edinburgh Castle is actually Dunsoghly Castle in Fingal, just an hour outside of Dublin City.
P.S. I Love You
The film adaptation of Irish author Cecelia Ahern’s 2004 novel, P.S. I Love You filmed on location in County Wicklow and Dublin City in Ireland. Though the film itself is a deeply emotional story of love, grief, and loss, it inspired many viewers to fall head over heels in love with the Irish landscape.
The gorgeous spot where Holly and Gerry (Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler) meet is the Sally Gap in Wicklow Mountains National Park, perfect for a day of hiking and exploring. The Blessington Lakes again feature in a memorable moment in the film, when Holly and her friends lose the oars to their boat. Whelan’s Pub on Wicklow Street in Dublin plays itself - one of Dublin’s finest venues for live music and concerts.
The 2007 film Once shot its stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova to fame (their song Falling Slowly won the Academy Award for Best Original Song) and gave audiences around the world a loving look at modern-day Dublin - in particular, its local music scene of determined buskers and up-and-coming musicians.
You can spend a whole day seeing the real-life filming locations where Guy and Girl, as they are called in the film, meet, fall in love, and make music. The first stop, naturally, is Grafton Street, Dublin’s main pedestrian shop street, which runs from St. Stephen’s Green to College Green. This is the most famous spot for busking in Dublin and where Hansard plays as the movie opens.