If you are a movie buff and a tourist in Ireland, you may need to carry this bucket list of filming locations and some popcorn as well. The Emerald Isle has played double to a fictitious Westeros of Game of Thrones, a collapsing Northern England in Tudors and sometimes even the streets of London, Massachusetts, Berlin, etc.
With over 2000 movies and TV series claiming various filming locations in Ireland, it puts the country at the 17th spot in the world’s list of the highest number of shooting locations. Ireland’s west coast or the “Wild Atlantic Way” has aesthetically appealing landscapes, ranging from the stunning Cliffs of Mohur and the flower-studded mountains of the Wicklow National Park and numerous castles, which are sought after as compelling filming locations by directors and producers alike.
Topthings2do introduces and appeals to the movie lover (well… who isn’t?) in you to 10 famous tourist locations that movies and series are thankful for playing stage.
Harry Potter and the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
You can try to apparate and disapparate, if you have it in you, to the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs have ensured themselves over history and shall continue to do so until the kingdom comes, to linger amongst the top places to visit in Ireland.
Voldermort ( I still flinch when I say the name out loud) chose the Emerald Isle to hide his Horcrux. Yes! The Cliffs of Mohur is the place where Harry and Dumbledore apparate from Hogwarts and land on a single rock facing an entrance of a cave in the elegant Cliffs of Mohur in the 6th movie.
The interior of the caves as in the movie may be a product of CGI but the exterior is the sheer brilliance of nature. Contrary to how the cliffs are characterized in the movie with a dark and diabolic vicinity thrashed by rouge waves, the trek upwards the Cliffs of Mohur is always a pleasant hike. The sun setting over the Atlantic is an endearing sight. Whether you are a movie buff, a Potterhead, a tourist or (even better) all three like me, the cliffs are sure to unfailingly impress.
Other films that were shot include The Princess Bride, Ryan’s Daughter and Into The West.
Best times to visit: According to various sources in Tripadvisor, September emerges winner as the best time to visit these cliffs with lesser crowds and longer daylight.
Skellig Michael: When the Force Awakened over the Wild Atlantic West
Star Wars: The Force Awakens courted Ireland’s west coast. Many scenes were shot at Cork, Kerry and Donegal. The highlight of them was Skellig Michael which was introduced as the place where Luke Skywalker was found hiding in his self-imposed exile and was found by Rey.
One could still remember the audience ooo-ing and cheering for characters like Princess Leia. However even before Luke Skywalker was revealed in the movie, scenes of the island Skellig Michael evoked gasps of amazement. This UNESCO World heritage site- off the coast of Co.Kerry- awakened along with the force and the last Jedi. It rose in popularity and stormed into the list Ireland’s top places to visit list.
Skellig Michael was also a monastery in the 6th century. Now also, the rock and ruins attract a high number of tourists, who visit it not only for the spotlight the movie endowed, but also to watch the beehive huts and the stunning, stony steps. One must wonder how the monks could have survived this incremental weather. The island is 11Km from the mainland into the Atlantic Ocean. One can reach the island from Portmagee in Count Kerry.
There are plenty of tour guides like Kerry Experience Tours who can usher you to here and other filming spots like the Dingle peninsula.
Best times to visit: The landing tour season runs between April and the beginning of October. The unpredictable weather does not offer any guarantee to the tour and each day the tour begins only after assessing the weather.
Braveheart: Where the Scots won against the British across the Irish plains and behind the Castles.
Though William Wallace, his battles and one of the most inspiring movie speeches of all time may have been based on Scotland, it was Meath in the Emerald Isle that played double to the city of York. The Dunsany Castle, King John’s Castle and Trim Castle are all located in Co. Meath.
Various battle scenes were shot across Wicklow and Kildare too. This Oscar-laden movie used various other spots such as the Sally’s Gap in Wicklow. The iconic scene of the Battle of Stirling Bridge was shot at Curragh Plains, Co. Kildare. All these places are worth your while. I’d go on to say that, a true Braveheart fan would love to make a trip to Trim Castle in Meath more than the aforementioned other miles of lush and green.
If you’re in the area, you should also pay a visit to Bective Abbey, which used for the scene where the princess converses with her maid. Tara Hill, Slane Village and Castle, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, Newgrange and Knowth are some other places you would like to visit if you are in Meath.
Best times to visit: The castles across Meath are open between Monday to Friday.
PS I love you Wicklow Mountains
For all the cheesiness it contained, the adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s novel was one hell of a romantic movie that aroused the romantic movie buffs (or was it only me!). The movie scenes shuffled between the harsh streets of New York and indigenous Ireland. One of the most beautiful classic fairy tale like scenes was when Gerard Butler met his romantic counterpart in the Wicklow mountains. Wicklow Mountains and Wicklow National Park regularly rank among the top places to visit in Ireland if you are terribly short of cash.
County Wicklow played host to Braveheart as well. Sally’s Gap in Co. Wicklow is often touted and visited for the spotlight it received from the movie. The resultant buzz has ranked it amongst some of the most visited filming locations in Ireland.
Best time to visit: the 9-km trek across the mountains can last between 3-4 hours. Summers are known to be crowded. Spring and Autumn are recommended times to visit.
Game of thrones; Co. Antrim, Co. Down.
A mere belief that tourists and visitors shall flock around shooting spots undermines the very purpose of the blog post.
But, Game of thrones and its fans dispel this very presumption.
The fantasy world spun around Winterfell, Westeros and that very battlefield that saw the white wolf defeat the annoying Lord Ramsay Bolton has attracted substantial visitors to its filming locations spread over Northern Ireland. For the natives, this place hits home. They feel delighted that the beauty of Northern Ireland is raved over the silver screen.
A lot of the filming locations are distributed in and around Co. Down, Co. Antrium, Co. Down.
A lot of these places also feature in many “top locations to visit in Ireland” list as well.
Follow the list below to know the various Game of thrones filming locations.
Winterfell, Castle Ward, Co. Down.
The North remembers and so should you when you visit Ireland! Winterfell is known as Castle Ward. It is located in Count Down. The castle is thronged by visitors and is arguably one of the most visited filming locations in Ireland.
Robb’s Camp, Audley’s Field, Strangford Lough, Co Down
Audley’s Castle is a three storeyed, stone made stunner that was built in the 12th century AD. The grounds also served as Robb Stark’s camp when he took his army to avenge the Lannisters. It is also where the Battle of Oxcross took place in the series. In the series it is where Robb met his love interest Talisa which led to the Stark’s tumultuous, tragic ending in the brutal Red Wedding; one of the most sinister endings of all time.
The place is close to Castle Ward as well.
Entrance to Castle Black, Magheramorne Quarry, County Antrim
A location that is overwhelmed with appalling moments in the series. The entrance to Castle Black featured in the series many times. Honourable mentions include: 1) the time when the wildlings were first brought back into the other side of the wall 2) the battle between the White Walkers and Jon Snow’s army. This Game of thrones filming location is situated in, Magheramorne Quarry, County Antrim. The place was heavily digitized for the series, but hey!
Does it really matter?
The quarry is legit in its aesthetic appeal and warrants a visit.
Arya Stark’s Exile Grounds, County Antrim
The Dark Hedges was where Arya Stark meandered after one of the most gruelling, heart wrenching scenes in Game of thrones. This GOT filming location also frequently appears as original as it appears in real life as the King’s Road in seasons 1 and 2.
Storms End, Cushendun Caves Co. Antrim
Remember when Ser Davos was tasked with taking Lady Melisandre to Storms End where she gave birth to the shadow baby. This popular filming location has always remained a famous tourist spot, defying all the grimace surrounding the scene in the series,. The series only added more buzz, fans and fantasy to the place.
Lordsport, Port of Pyke, Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim
In the series, Theon Greyjoy returns to Ballintoy Harbour to get the support of Balon Greyjoy. He meets his sister Yara Greyjoy.
Okay, that sounds bland.
Another filming location that played an uncanny double was Ballintoy Harbour, which served as Pyke and the Iron Islands. The harbour is served by a thin and unwinding road. But that doesn’t stop fans from visiting the place. Since the location’s originality was retained one might feel like they are actually on the set!
Ballintoy is also a 12-mile coastal walk away from the celebrated Giant’s Causeway which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Road to Pyke, Murlough Bay, Co Antrim
This filming location staged two scenes for Game of Thrones. This place served as the backdrop for Theon’s horse ride with his sister Yara and where Ser Davos Seaworth was shipwrecked after the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Despite the fanfare the filming spot has received, the stunning landscape and the view it gives across the sea reaching the Scottish mainland is worth a view. For Game of thrones fans, this is another place to check off from your Irish bucket list.
The Iron Islands, Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim
Dunluce Castle is a famous location in Ireland even before the Game of thrones needed it for filming. The actual castle wasn’t used for filming owing to its instability. However, the Game of thrones’ production took inspiration from the castle to build the Iron Islands, the home of the Greyjoys.
Best times to visit: Many tour agencies offer tour packages to tour the various game of thrones’ filming locations.
Activities: If you have time despite having your hands full touring these filming locations, visit Antrim to know more about the activities you can pursue around the vicinity.
Other Game of throne filming locations:
- The Haunted Forest: Tollymore Forest, Co. Down
- The Stormlands: Larrybane, Co Antrim
- The Twins, Inch Abbey – Co. Down
- Riverrun: River Quoile, Co. Down
- Portstewart Strand – Co. Londonderry
- Dragonstone: Downhill Beach – Co. Londonderry
What are your favorite filming locations in Ireland? Let us know in the comments below.