Follow Your ‘Star’ – From Star Wars to Banshees; Screen Tourism in Ireland Takes Off!

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Discovering Fáilte Ireland
Keep Discovering - Fáilte Ireland's Domestic Tourism Campaign

In January this year, Tourism Ireland launched its 2023 marketing plans. Among its strategy to rebuild overseas tourism – with €78m marketing budget for 2023, there’s a focus on screen tourism.

According to its marketing strategy, screen tourism opportunities will be leveraged throughout the year – including opportunities around popular movies and TV shows filmed here, such as The Banshees of InisherinHarry Potter, Star Wars, Braveheart, Dungeons & DragonsHonor Among ThievesVikings: Valhalla and Derry Girls. Air Lingus has also announced a new route – from Ireland West Airport Knock to London Heathrow, which aims to support connectivity for the West and boost the local economy and tourism. The new Aer Lingus service will commence on 26th March 2023 and operate daily.

Reid Moody Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Aer Lingus has made mention of the fact that this service “will drive inbound tourism at a time when interest in visiting the West of Ireland is very high, with the Oscar nominated Banshees of Inisherin showcasing the beauty of the West of Ireland to millions of people globally.

But it’s not just the West of Ireland. Stunning, other-worldly landscapes and locations are aplenty all over Ireland. These attract and call out like sirens to tourists and also to those who call the Emerald Isle home.

Here’s a little list of places you can go to if you were interested in screen tourism. We would love to know what you think of these. If you’re a local, have you been to these locations and regions captured on the big screen or TV productions. And if you are tourist, this should come in very handy!

Skellig Michael – The Force Awakens

In 2021, on a vacation to Valentia Island, we were charmed by our beautiful bed and breakfast which offered unhindered views of the sea, and a lighthouse in the distant horizon. But when we started exploring the area, taking the bridge to Portmagee and around, we realised that we weren’t far from a very iconic and much-sought after location. To be precise, we were just seven minutes away from the Skellig Michael – one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Republic of Ireland, and the location of Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens).

If you want to visit or attempt to summit this historic rock and head to St Fionan’s monastery, you must book your place on the landing tours in advance. The season runs from April until the beginning of October. We couldn’t quite do the tour whilst there, but we came back with great memories of the Skellig coastline, and our time in Valentia. (We could hear the foghorn from our room, and even see some seals!)

The Cliffs of MoherHarry Potter

Star Wars filming locations
Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare, Ireland

Most first-time visitors to Ireland head to the Cliffs of Moher. It is indeed a must-do, but do you know that these legendary cliffs were also the location for the climax scene of the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Remember the Horcrux Cave? That’s at the Cliffs. You can’t head down to the caves of course, but you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed by the panoramic views. Just one little word of caution – keep in mind, that sometimes the Cliffs of Moher may be obscured by an all-encompassing fog. (Real story. Happened to us!)

You could either wait for the fog to lift or take it as an opportunity to visit this beautiful natural wonder once again!

Mayo and the Quiet Man

Star Wars filming locations
Mayo has plenty to offer, and the village of Cong in particular, attracts fans eager to be on a locations-trail of The Quiet Man

You may have heard of the 1952 film The Quiet Man. John Wayne shot the film in the village of Cong in Mayo, and to this date, it attracts many avid fans and visitors. It’s perhaps also in no small measure due to the fact that Cong retains many of its charms, and is truly a wonderful place. Visitors flock to Ashford Castle, and love a leisurely stroll through its scenic grounds as well as getting an opportunity to see the many birds of prey.

There’s also The Quiet Man’s Museum, and tours and trails.

Wicklow – The Garden of Ireland and a filmmaker’s favourite

Star Wars filming locations

Chances are, that if you live in Dublin, or are visiting it, you would definitely put Co. Wicklow on your list. It has been our favourite haunt since we moved to Ireland, and we never tire of it – no matter what the weather. It’s dusted in an assortment of colours all through the year (gold and yellow, green and purple, and even powdery white when it snows!) and has amazing trails, treks, lakes and more.

But do you know that many scenes from movies like Braveheart, The Count of Monte Cristo, Haywire, Frank and King Arthur were shot here? You can find an extensive list of films and TV productions shot in Wicklow here, and if you’re heading on any of these trails, you are going to mesmerised by the ethereal beauty of the region – it is at once poetry and prose both.

Wicklow – Enchanted with Disenchanted!

Star Wars filming locations

In 2021, the village of Enniskerry in Wicklow underwent a magical transformation. It became a fairytale land, and for none other than the movie Disenchanted. Of course, the set is now all dismantled but Enniskerry is still as gorgeously beautiful and magical as ever.

Achill Island, Co. Mayo, and Inishmore – The Banshees of Inisherin

The poster for Banshees of Inisherin showing lead actors in Ireland's scenic West Coast

There’s a detailed Banshees of Inisherin Locations Trail put together by Achill Tourism, and you can find more about it in one of our previous stories (link here.)

The evocative landscape that portrayed the beauty of this part of Ireland has now gone viral. On YouTube, Tourism Ireland’s behind-the-scenes mini film has mustered up nearly 6 million views. It’s a promotional video and takes a behind-the-scenes look at the critically-acclaimed movie.

In 2023, Achill is expecting a lot of tourists, and if you feel the West of Ireland is calling out to you ever since you watched the film, maybe it’s a good idea to start putting together a plan in place. It certainly helps that Air Lingus, as mentioned in the story before, has announced a new route, so all you have to do is to just book your trip.

Star Wars filming locations
A photograph from Achill Tourism’s website that shows the location where this particular scene was shot. In the photograph which is divided into two parts (top and bottom), the scene at the top is the filming location where the scene below was filmed.

Whether you are indulging in your love of screen tourism, or following in the footsteps of your favourite stars – Ireland is not going to disappoint. Much like a classic movie, it never quite goes out of fashion.

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