Big movie and tv names have increasingly set up their filming gear on Irish soil – Star Wars, Harry Potter and Vikings just a handful that has benefited from the richness of the landscape.
Rolling hills spill out over rugged cliffs. Sweeping valleys interlace with murky bogs, waterways and waterfalls, caves and castles covering the terrain.
What Ireland offers is beauty and diversity– and that’s how we’ve compiled this list. We’re taking you off the beaten track, so that you won’t be hearing the regulars such as the Cliffs of Moher. If you want your movie to stand out, then the backdrop should too.
There’s an utter wildness to the sea and lands of the Beara. It’s incredibly remote, dotted with small but colourful villages. All roads set in a directionless meander and most with grass cleaving them in two. Outside the quaint Eyeries village is a road that swoops right into the Atlantic Ocean with nothing in sight but the horizon.
Bull Rock Lighthouse is a structure so outlandish that I’ll direct you to the aerial photo beneath rather than attempt to describe it.
There haven’t been many movies featured here, but Odine starring Colin Farrel really made best use of the surroundings. The main set was in the only biggish settlement on the Beara Peninsula; a small fishing town known as Castletownbere. Many looking for the rugged landscapes of the west coast of Ireland will head to Kerry or Galway, which are of course breathtaking. However, tourists are in on this secret and are less “untouched” than there more southern cousin. Beara is more of a clean – and intensely beautiful– slate.
Kilmokea House a former Georgian rectory built in 1794 and the perfect choice for a period film or tv series. It’s located on the spot where the three sisters meet: The Suir, The Noir and The Barrow before they glide out into Wexford Harbour. Opportunities are plentiful for shots along the banks or out into the Irish Sea. The gardens themselves are a mix of romantic formal and natural woodland, and it’s the diversity of this location makes it worth researching for your next project.
In general, county Wexford is a treasure trove of well kept historic buildings, which is why we couldn’t just have one on the list…
What first stricks you about Tintern Abbey is its size. The abbey dates all the way back to the 1200s and was one of the most powerful Cistercian abbeys in Ireland. The size, stature and detailing convince you of that fact. The building’s restoration, particular between 1982-2007, has brought this magnificent historic building to life. Its majestic presence and surroundings have never before been on the big screen, so it’s a good opportunity to showcase its raw beauty.
Again, there’s plenty of fantastic scenery nearby, notably the woodlands around Tintern Abbey, which along with the Bannor Bay and the Tintern River are nature reserves, home to whiskered bats and other protected native flora and fauna. Also nearby is a short stone bridge with a crenellated parapet that spans the Tintern River. Another bridge leads to an 18th-century mill housed at the mouth of the river.
I’m grouping a lot of different sites within this Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking, area. Settled on the west coast of Ireland, Connemara contains a mystic array of waterfalls, beaches and woodlands. Connemara National Park offers 2,000 hectares of wildlife. From the blanket bogs to the purpling heathlands provides the scenery for epic long shots. The Quiet Man was filmed in Cong, a village hovering on the Galway and Mayo border. The rugged wiles were featured in the heartwrenching Black ‘47 as well as the inarguably more cheery rom-com Leap Year.
If you’re looking for beaches, the crystal waters crest over the golden coral sands of Mannin Bay. It’s blissful and serene on a sunny day but transforms into a maelstrom of drama and atmosphere on the stormier days along the western coastline.
A challenge for directors is finding a location that doesn’t look altogether like the planet we live on. And yet, such places exist. And The Burren is one such oddity. It fittingly translates from An Boíreann, meaning ‘a rocky place’. The lay of the landscape is dominated by glaciated karst, which results in a bed of cracked and undulating rocks through which rare species crop through for densely fertile soil. It’s also home to turloughs – disappearing lakes – grasslands, woodlands and hazel scrubs.
Mullaghmore mountain featured below, is the crowning glory. Majestic, rocky swirls, stand over the bizarre and enchanting landscape of the national treasure.
Cahir, an inland town of Munster has two very intriguing buildings that might put an end to your locations search. The first is a castle. The second; a very unique cottage.
The land of Ireland is a layering of historical monuments. The country is rammed full with ring forts, fairy forts and hill forts. Standing stones, ogham-stones are ubiquitous with even a few La Tène Stones hanging tough to the soil. And, of course, there are castles – 30,000 of them. So, why Cahir castle?
This gargantuan medieval stronghold boasts an impeccably maintained interior. It’s one of the largest and, crucially, best preserved in the country.
Just outside Cahir town is the idyllic fantasy Swiss Cottage. Built in the early 1800s by world-famous Regency architect John Nash, this cottage orné is a fanciful realisation of an idealised countryside cottage.
Obviously, one article cannot showcase the potential that the length and breadth of this country has to lend to the world of filming. However, these are some of the more obscure locations that will light up your viewer’s imagination.
If you’re looking for a specific landscape of building to capture your cinematic ambitions, then let us know, and we can suggest suitable locations on this incredible island. Get in touch with our expert team so we can help keep your timeline moving forwards.