Ireland has hosted some incredible movies and series over the years (Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to drop some names!). It offers film sets some of the most breathtaking landscape backgrounds in the world, the charm of its towns and cities, and plenty of talented background actors. I had no idea some of these were filmed here until I started researching for this article:
|Far and Away||1992||Counties Galway, Kerry, Wicklow, Dublin|
|In the Name of the Father||1993||Dublin, Wicklow|
|Braveheart||1995||Counties Meath and Wicklow|
|Angela’s Ashes||1999||Counties Wicklow, Cork, Dublin, and Limerick|
|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||2009||Counties Clare and Kerry|
|P.S. I Love You||2007||Counties Dublin and Wicklow|
|The Wind That Shakes the Barley||2006||County Cork|
|Leap Year||2010||Counties Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Laois, Galway|
|Star Wars Episode VII||2015||Counties Kerry, Clare, Cork, Donegal|
|Star Wars Episode VIII||2017||Counties Kerry, Clare, Cork, Donegal|
|Star Wars Episode IX||2019||Counties Kerry, Clare, Cork, Donegal|
|Game of Thrones||2011-2019||Northern Ireland|
|Belfast||2021||County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and London, England|
There have been so many Star Wars films set in Ireland, I am going to have to write an article just on this one! Scenes are set in Ireland from these films:
- Star Wars Episode VII “The Force Awakens” (2015)
- Star Wars Episode VIII “The Last Jedi” (2017)
- Star Wars Episode IX “The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)
The filming took place across Skellig Michael off the coast of County Kerry, Loop Head in County Clare, Brow Head in County Cork, Malin Head in County Donegal and the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.
Game of Thrones
Filming Locations: Northern Ireland
The HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s books was one of the most widely talked about series until it finished (unfortunately?) in 2019. Many scenes in Game of Thrones were shot in Northern Ireland. I’m writing up another article that focuses on these locations and how to visit them (coming soon).
Awards: Won 59 Primetime Emmy Awards
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Filming Locations: Counties Clare and Kerry
The sixth installment of the Harry Potter franchise features a key scene filmed at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, as well as Lemon Rock in County Kerry.
Awards: Nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Filming Locations: Wicklow, Ireland
The production of Vikings is based entirely in Wicklow, and we have seen a number of calls for extras from the local area to take part (I knew someone who did it!). Wicklow offers an incredible backdrop for the scenes from the show, including the dramatic valley of Luggala and dark waters of Lough Tay (part of the original Guinness Estate). The Wicklow Mountains National Park provided ideal scenery for scenes of Viking longships.
Awards: Nominated for several awards, including Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Alexander Ludwig
Filming Locations: Counties Meath and Wicklow
This historical epic about Scottish hero William Wallace was primarily filmed in Ireland. The battle scenes took place in Trim Castle, County Meath, where members of the Irish Army Reserve served as extras. Initially, Mel Gibson turned down the role of William Wallace, feeling he was too old for the part, but he was eventually convinced by Paramount Pictures.
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Effects, Best Makeup
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
Filming Locations: County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and London, England
Belfast is a semi-autobiographical film directed and written by Kenneth Branagh that chronicles life in Northern Ireland’s capital city during the turbulent late 1960s. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the film sets were built outside London, but aerial shots of present-day Belfast were filmed on location.
Awards: Academy Award-winning film
Starring: Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe
P.S. I Love You
Filming Locations: Counties Dublin and Wicklow
This emotional drama, directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, and Lisa Kudrow, is based on the 2004 novel by Irish writer Cecelia Ahern. The film showcases the stunning landscapes of Blessington and Sally Gap in County Wicklow, as well as Dublin. The soundtrack features music from The Pogues, Laura Izibor, and Flogging Molly.
Awards: Nominated for several awards
Starring: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow
Filming Locations: County Dublin
Once is an art-house musical filmed in Dublin that tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant. The film was directed by John Carney and stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who also provided the film’s music. The movie features iconic Dublin locations such as Temple Bar, Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green, and Killiney Hill.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly”
Starring: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
Saving Private Ryan
Filming Locations: County Wexford
Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed war drama, starring Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, and Matt Damon, features scenes from the beaches of Curracloe and Ballinesker in County Wexford. The Irish reserve defense forces provided 1,500 extras for the film’s battle scenes.
Awards: 11 Oscar nominations, 5 wins
Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns
In the Name of the Father
Filming Locations: Dublin, Wicklow
In the Name of the Father is a biographical drama that tells the story of Gerry Conlon, an Irishman who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the 1974 IRA pub bombings in Guildford. Directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, and Pete Postlethwaite, the movie features scenes shot in Ardmore Studios, Kilmainham Gaol, South Lotts, and Sheriff Street in Dublin, as well as locations in Liverpool and London. The film’s soundtrack includes music from Bono, Gavin Friday, Thin Lizzy, and Sinéad O’Connor.
Awards: 7 Oscar nominations and numerous international awards
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Pete Postlethwaite
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Filming Locations: County Cork
This war drama, directed by Ken Loach and set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, stars Cillian Murphy and Pádraic Delaney as brothers who join the Irish Republican Army. The film was shot in various towns in County Cork, including Ballyvourney, Timoleague, and Bandon.
Awards: Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham
Filming Locations: Counties Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Laois, Galway
This romantic comedy, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, follows a woman who travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day. The film features scenes from the Aran Islands, Connemara, Temple Bar, St Stephen’s Green, Wicklow National Park, Waterford’s Olaf Street, the Carton House Hotel in Maynooth (County Kildare), and more.
Awards: Nominated for 1 Golden Globe
Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott
Far and Away
Filming Locations: Counties Galway, Kerry, Wicklow, Dublin
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in this epic Western romantic adventure film, directed by Ron Howard. The movie follows Irish immigrants seeking fortune in 1890s America. Irish coastal scenes were filmed on the Dingle Peninsula (County Kerry), while the estate where Joseph Donnelly (Cruise) falls in love with the landowner’s daughter is Killruddery House, near Bray, south of Dublin.
Awards: Nominated for 2 Oscars
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Gibson
Filming Locations: Counties Wicklow, Cork, Dublin, and Limerick
Based on the best-selling autobiography by Irish expatriate Frank McCourt, this drama was directed by Alan Parker and stars Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, and Joe Breen. Angela’s Ashes tells the story of young Frank McCourt and his family as they try to escape the poverty endemic to the slums of pre-war Limerick. The church interior scenes were shot in a Dublin studio, as the production was denied permission to film in any Limerick church due to controversial content.
Awards: Nominated for 1 BAFTA Award
Starring: Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen