Game of Thrones, Northern Ireland
Westeros exists in the real world too, you know. Much of Game of Thrones, the HBO smash hit series, was filmed in and around Northern Ireland, and several different location tours are available to fans. Highlights include Derry’s Downhill Beach (Dragonstone), Ballintoy Harbour, near the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim (Pyke and the Iron Islands), and the Dark Hedges near Ballymoney (King’s Road). The latter is a spectacular line of beach trees planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century, and today forming a wonderfully spooky avenue for the Seven Kingdoms.
Michael Collins et al, Wicklow
Jane Seymour once dubbed Wicklow “the Hollywood of Europe”, and while that particular accolade may be a tad generous, it’s certainly true that its jaw-dropping landscapes, proximity to Dublin and Ardmore Studios in Bray have made it Ireland’s leading film county. Several film trails are signposted throughout the Wicklow Mountains, with classics like Excalibur, Ballykissangel (better known as Avoca to those who live there), Michael Collins, the Count of Monte Cristo (scenes for which were filmed on Silver Strand and at Powerscourt) and Becoming Jane (Kilruddery House & Gardens) all providing stops along the way.
The Guard, Connemara
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (the Quiet Man) are the stars most often associated with movie-making in Connemara, but Brendan Gleeson’s unorthodox policeman offers some hilarious competition. Remote locations are a big part of The Guard’s appeal, heightening the sense of isolation and surreality Don Cheadle’s FBI agent experiences when he arrives to investigate an international drug smuggling ring. Bearna, Salthill and Spiddal all feature, with another memorable scene seeing Gleeson rendezvous with two lady friends in Galway’s g Hotel.
Ryan’s Daughter, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Ok, it’s not exactly cutting edge cinema. But Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was one of the big productions that broke the mould for filmmaking in Ireland, showcasing the country’s Atlantic landscapes to dramatic effect. Ryan’s Daughter was “the best government we ever had,” a local lady once told me. “It put Dingle on the map.” Beaches like Inch and Coomeenoule look as radiant as the day David Lean first filmed them, and despite mixed reviews, the movie still puts Far & Away (1992), starring an Oirish-accented Tom Cruise, in the ha’penny place. You can find out more about both movies on Fáilte Ireland’s Atlantic Film Trail.
More info: http://bit.ly/1oGj6Z2
Father Ted, Co. Clare
“Ok, one last time. These are small. But the ones out there are far away.” Father Ted, Dougal, Mrs Doyle and Jack may only have graced our screens for three years (1995-1998), but their legacy lives on – thanks to timeless comedy, endless repeats, an annual TedFest, and strange but spectacular locations strewn around Clare. The Plassey shipwreck (Inis Meáin), the Very Dark Caves (Aillwee), the Holy Stone of Clonrichert (Burren) and even the parochial house itself (where you can sup tea with the McCormack family) are all stashed about the stony landscape. Ah go on!
More info: www.fathertedshouse.com
Pól Ó Conghaile is Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter (@poloconghaile) or online at www.poloconghaile.com.