Walk in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker and Jon Snow behind the scenes at Ireland’s top film locations

Star Wars, Skellig Michael

Ireland has been the setting for some of the most iconic moments in film and television throughout the years. From Luke Skywalker wielding his lightsabre, to Jon Snow fighting an epic battle, Ireland has been the backdrop to countless famous scenes.

If there were an Oscar for best film location, then Ireland would have a long list of credits.

When it comes to dramatic settings you can’t do much better than the island of Ireland, which is why it’s become the ‘go to’ place for movie-makers.

Star Wars, Skellig Michael

It’s where Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Star Wars played out their otherworldly tales, where Braveheart and the Vikings battled for glory and where many other iconic movies and TV series found the perfect backdrop for their narrative.

Getting that behind the scenes vibe at some of the world’s biggest productions is a real treat for film fans and set jetters, and it’s made all the more enjoyable by the ease of access to the filming locations and numerous guided and self-guided tours.   

Among the film locations along the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way there is the chance to see the home of The Quiet Man in the pretty village of Cong and Harry Potter’s horcrux cave at the foot of the famous Cliffs of Moher.

Malin Head in the rugged north-west and the ancient monastery on the island of Skellig Michael, off the coast of County Kerry, are locations where Star Wars fans can feel the force.

In Ireland’s Ancient East, set-jetters can stroll along the golden expanse of Curracloe Beach in County Wexford, which featured in Brooklyn and Saving Private Ryan, and follow in the footsteps of the Vikings through the beautiful Wicklow Mountains.

Braveheart, Trim Castle

A visit to magnificent Powerscourt Estate, also in Wicklow, reveals the elegant setting for Ella Enchanted and The Tudors, while Trim Castle in County Meath recalls the battles in Braveheart.

In Dublin, bustling Grafton St provided the urban setting for Once and historic Kilmainham Gaol put stars behind bars in Michael Collins and The Italian Job.

To see the location for Educating Rita, movie buffs can visit Trinity College, famous for the Book of Kells, but which also starred in a Bollywood blockbuster, Ek The Tiger.

Northern Ireland stars brightly on screen with TV shows like The Fall and Line of Duty and big-screen blockbusters like Dracula Untold shot there. But it is now known most worldwide for being the ‘Home of Thrones’.

A number of tours visit beautiful Game of Thrones shoot locations, including Castle Ward (Winterfell) in County Down, the Dark Hedges (Kingsroad) and Ballintoy (Pyke Harbour) in County Antrim, and Downhill Strand (Dragonstone) in County Londonderry.

GoT, Winterfell, Castle Ward

As well as grabbing a photo, fans can enjoy a taste of Westeros at a medieval banquet, meet the direwolves and shoot arrows on the set where Robb Stark taught Bran archery.

Combining a tour of locations with an Irish film festival, which run throughout the year, is a good idea for film-lovers. Among the choices are the six-day Galway Film Fleadh (11–16 July) and the Oscar-affiliated Foyle Film Festival (17–26 November) in Derry/Londonderry.

You can find out more about the great attractions to see in Ireland by visiting www.ireland.com.

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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling