Many people would be familiar with Mel Gibson’s movie Braveheart, what most won’t know is that this famous Scottish story was mostly filmed on location in Ireland.
Bedecked in a tartan kilt, the blue faced one led the charge against Edward Longshanks not at the Battle of Bannockburn but across Curragh Racecourse. Other locations for this Oscar winning movie included the plains of Kildare and the beautiful countryside of County Wicklow.
There are now a range of driving tours available for three films that have set themselves in Ireland’s diverse locations. Braveheart, Excalibur and Michael Collins have all been filmed on location in Ireland and are a huge draw for tourists wanting to get close to the big screen.
For the recent movie Reign of Fire, a medieval fortress sprung up overnight in the Wicklow Gap which is home to an old lead mine.
Hollywood is never too far from Wicklow, with the real town that Hollywood, California is named after situated in the west of the county.
Meryl Streep and her film Dancing at Lughnasa shot some scenes in the town for the movie but other Wicklow towns have proved just as popular. The Oscar winning ‘My Left Foot’ was shot in Bray in Wicklow along with Michael Collins and the musically acclaimed The Commitments.
It is not just Wicklow that can boast of its movie credits, Youghal in County Cork was the setting of Herman Melville’s 1956 version of Moby Dick which starred Gregory Peck. Saving Private Ryan and its now infamous opening sequences were staged in County Wexford and are perhaps some of the best remembered scenes that were shot here.
The Quiet Man with Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne was filmed in Cong in County Mayo and whilst it depicted a very stereotypical Ireland, it is very much a classic film in its genre.
Ron Howard’s Far and Away, starring Hollywood legends Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was filmed in Ireland, grateful perhaps that the scenery had not changed much from the era that the movie was set.
Of all the cities in Ireland, Dublin is the most featured in movies, with the most acclaimed My Left Foot by Jim Sheridan set in the city itself. Belfast however has also had its fair share of the movie pie with the ornate Crown Bar Saloon featuring in Carol Reed’s 1947 drama Odd Man Out with James Mason. The 1990 movie Divorcing Jack was also set here, along with Jim Sheridan’s trilogy about the NI Troubles (In the Name of the Father, Some Mother’s Son and The Boxer). Belfast is however more modernly known as the city of tv shows – with Sons of Anarchy, The Fall and Game of Thrones all filming on location nearby.
Lovers of Maeve Binchy will already be familiar with the movie offering of one of her best sellers Circle of Friends which was set in Inistige, County Kilkenny. This beautiful and pitureresque backdrop provided the perfect setting for this movie starring Minnie Driver and more recently Irish author Cecilia Ahern’s P.S I Love You was partly shot in Wicklow.
Finding a film crew in Ireland these days is about as common as a pint of Guinness as Hollywood realises the authenticity of its stunning locations, it great incentives and warm and hospitable people. Come to Ireland and discover the setting of true Hollywood magic!