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Cliffs of Moher

Cinematic Ireland: A Country Full of Worlds

Posted on 3 May 2023

We all love getting lost in stories. Whether it’s a true crime documentary late at night, or rewatching The Lord of the Rings for the hundredth time, stories continue to resonate with us. It’s how we express ourselves, it’s how we make people laugh and feel and reminisce. It’s how we share knowledge and pass down stories between generations.  

And when a story resonates with us, we find other ways to connect to it. Researching the history behind the true crime even later that night in bed. Buying a replica of Aragorn’s sword and mounting it on our wall at home. Blasting the soundtrack through our headphones on the bus to work. And sometimes, if we’re really lucky, even visiting the places where some of our favourite scenes were filmed. 

It’s something we understand here at Rabbie’s. There’s a reason we visit locations where Harry Potter and Outlander were filmed, it’s because we get that people want to connect with the stories they’ve come to love. 

And we’re all about great stories. 

If there’s one thing we enjoy while on a small-group tour, it’s hunting down those special places. A building of great political importance. The pub where a talented poet once drank. The castle where an iconic movie scene was shot.  

And Ireland is full of iconic film and TV locations. It’s no surprise, is it? Given the beauty of Ireland, rich in gorgeous landscapes and passionate history alike, it’s no wonder film makers are drawn to it time and again. One of those movie franchises was the deeply loved Star Wars series and we thought that quite fitting because today is a special day in that universe. 

So, without further ado, here is a list of the top film and TV locations in Ireland. And, as always, #MayThe4thBeWithYou 

Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... (and by that we mean Ireland) 

The Emerald Isle has long since been seen as the perfect setting for many films and shows, regardless of whether it’s set in a fantasy world or the real world. In fact, two Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi had scenes that were set in Ireland.  

One that fans will find impossible to forget was the planet of Ahch-To, where Rey goes to find Luke Skywalker. This ‘planet’ was actually an island in Ireland called Skellig Michael. This otherworldly rocky outcrop is honestly a little mind-bending. The kind of place you stare at and wonder if it’s real. In fact, if you told people the beehive stone huts found on the island were props made for the Star Wars movies, they’d likely believe you. But believe us when we say they already existed. And they belonged to some monks. 

These beehive huts were a Monastic Settlement back in the 6th century, a hugely important and sacred site to the monks of St Fionan. They led a very simple life living among the crashing wild Atlantic Ocean, inside their modest yet incredible huts, wandering the sharp pinnacles they called home. Archaeological research and evidence suggest there were about 12 monks living on the island until around the 13th century, when they moved to the mainland.  

Today the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but you can still visit Skellig Michael via boat tour. While we don’t visit the island ourselves, we do visit the Fahan Beehive Huts in Dingle Peninsula on our 3-day Dingle, Killarney & the Wild Atlantic Way tour from Dublin.  

You might also head to the wild and vast Inishowen Peninsula. It’s more than the largest peninsula in Ireland. It’s a landscape carved by crashing oceans, humbled by jagged coastlines, a place that both shocks with its power and greets you with Emerald Isle hills.  

Here you will find Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head, which now also boasts being a Star Wars filming location. For those of you who saw Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (which was all of you, right?), the cast and crew found themselves in the ominous Hells Hole, a subterranean cavern that was perfect for the world of Star Wars. While we don’t recommend getting too close to Hells Hole, we’d love to show you Malin’s Head, on our 4-day Donegal & the Wild Atlantic Way tour from Belfast.  

Derry Girls

Beloved by many, the British TV show Derry Girls has become quite popular in recent years. Watching the shenanigans of a group of teenage girls (and their token boy in the group) during the 1990s is a popular pastime. The show is set in the Walled City of Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland and for fans of the show, visiting Derry should shoot to the top of your travel list. 

Derry is also famed for its array of incredible murals around the city, many of which are political as well as artistic. And you’re a fan of the show, you’ll get a kick out of seeing the Derry Girls Mural which you could spot while on tour with us

Game of Thrones

Honestly, we’re not even sure where to begin with Game of Thrones. You could spend a whole holiday journeying around Northern Ireland checking out locations that were used in the violent-yet-fascinating TV series.  

There’s Old Castle Ward, for example, which is an exotic mix of classic Palladian style and wild Georgian Gothic style. In the show, the tower house and farmyard stood in for part of the ancestral home of House Stark, Winterfell. 

Or there’s the haunting Dark Hedges, built in 1755 as the entrance to an impressive homestead. Today, fans of both nature and the show trek here to take a picture of ‘the Kingsroad’.  

Rather than us waffling on about this for an entire blog post, read this one we prepared earlier

Harry Potter (and The Princess Bride)

You’ve all heard that expression. ‘The Emerald Isle’. Ireland lives up to its name, to be sure, but it’s also as mystical and dramatic as one could hope for. There are enormous areas of rugged, rocky landscapes. Mist-covered vistas and mountains. Deathly-frightening cliff edges... such as the Cliffs of Moher.  

This is one of Ireland’s most famous spots and it’s no wonder when you finally see the waves crashing against the shale and sandstone cliffs.   

And if you’re a huge fan of the Harry Potter movies, you might recongise this area from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth Harry Potter film, from when Harry joins Professor Dumbledore in hunting a Horcrux.  

We explore this beautiful area on several of our tours including the 3-day West Coast Explorer tour from Dublin.  

You might also find yourself gazing up at the cliffs and going “... but those are the Cliffs of Insanity, aren’t they?” You’re not wrong. That’s what they were called in the beloved film The Princess Bride.  

Saving Private Ryan

Back in the 90s, when Steven Spielberg was filming his WWII epic Saving Private Ryan, the people of County Wexford were heavily involved in the creation of this masterful film. The opening D-Day landing scenes were filmed at Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand.  

For two months, this beautiful beach was flooded with film crews, stunt men, explosions, and even members of the Irish Defence Force who worked as extras.

Not to worry though, they’ve long since cleared out, leaving behind a beautiful 10-mile stroll just waiting for you.  


A post shared by Agnieszka D (@marriedtoink)


We know what you’re thinking... “Isn’t Braveheart set in Scotland?”  

Yes, it’s set in Scotland, but much of it was filmed in Ireland. Trim Castle in County Meath holds the title of Ireland’s largest surviving Norman Castle, but it also served as the setting for York in the film. Even the ‘London square’ was established at Trim Castle, just on the other side of the castle wall.  

And if you recall the Battle of Stirling Bridge, that was filmed on the open plains known as The Curragh. 

And there’s more than this just a stone’s throw away in both Scotland and England. Whether you’re a film buff with a soft spot for Ireland, an Outlander fan hoping to get thrown back in time, or an avid Jane Austen fan, you’ll quickly come to understand while both the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland have been top targets for film makers since film came into existence.  

Wherever we can, we’ll join you on your adventures, ferrying you to some of these incredible locations, from the Cliffs of Moher to the Dark Hedges, from Culloden in Scotland to the sweeping landscapes of Cornwall in England.  

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