In 2023 the Emerald Isle is the protagonist on the small and big screen. Film premieres such as ‘Inisherin’s Banshee’ or ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’ and the success of series such as ‘Game of Thrones’, the second season of ‘Vikings: Valhalla’, ‘Blade Runner 2099’, the last season of ‘Derry Girls’ or the documentary about U2 chose Ireland as the setting.
Ireland has all the ingredients to be a movie set. Its history and its nature surpass any movie studio. Castles, bridges, roads, piers, towers. That always mysterious and trickster air. Productions such as ‘Saving Private Ryan’ or ‘Braveheart’ chose this place to tell their Oscar-winning stories, and the best series and films of 2023 have also chosen Ireland as their backdrop. Here are the seven settings in which the best productions of this 2023 were filmed.
The endless cliffs and wild waters of Inisherin
Who says Inisherin says Wild Atlantic Way. For to this wild side of the Emerald Isle roam Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in ‘Inisherin’s Banshees’, the McDonagh film that led Ireland to the Oscars. The island of Inis Mór (County Galway) and Achill (County Mayo) are Gaeltacht territory, that is, Gaelic is spoken here. Authentic land in traditions; of infinite cliffs and immense meadows.
On the ‘big island’ (that means Inis Mór in Gaelic) Christian, pre-Christian and Celtic mythology is felt beyond the heritage, which is found in the Dún Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) fort, built three thousand years ago, and the monastic ruins from the 8th century of Na Seacht dTeampaíll (The Seven Churches) an example of the mysticism of this land, witness of settlements for centuries and film shootings. Places of a special spirituality.
The sea cliffs on Achill Island claim to be the highest in Ireland and the Blue Flag flies from five of its beaches. Here is Keem Bay, the best wild bathing spot in all of the British Isles. A paradise isolated from the world that is accessed through the land of shepherds and fishermen. A place almost undiscovered.
The Viking Fjord in Ireland’s Ancient East
The beautiful and rugged Scandinavia, with the impressive fjords of the Viking settlement of Kattegat is, in reality, Ireland. County Wicklow goes back to the 11th century to recount the exploits of the most legendary Vikings. With locations in County Meath (Slane Castle State and Boyne) and aerial shots of the landscapes of Kerry, it is the rugged landscape of Ireland’s Ancient East that once again serves as the setting in the second season of ‘Vikings: Valhalla’.
Jomsburg’s Baltic fortress is none other than Roundwood Quarry, and The Ice River comes to life in Ballyhorsey Quarry, the city of sandy marshes. Another of the key settings is Lough Tay (Lake Guinness), in the series, the port of Kattegat. The special effects turned it into a fjord and sailors and neighbors served as extras on set. Without a doubt, a place of worship.
The rest need no effects. The Novgorod Republic comes to life in the Irish farmlands of Ashford, as well as Nun’s Beach in Maghermore, the mountainous landscape of Bray Head or the ruins of Black Castle. All scenarios for your movie vacations.
The Dublin of U2 and Dave Letterman
Now that the Disney+ documentary series ‘Bono & The Edge: a sort of homecoming, with Dave Letterman’ has just premiered (March 17, St. Patrick’s Day), with Dave Letterman) is the best time to approach the Dublin that inspired U2, the Irish rock band.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Norman Neville follows in the footsteps of Dave Letterman on his first visit to the birthplace of U2. Bono and The Edge act as exceptional guides for their close friend in this production in which you can discover a vibrant Dublin.
The first stop is the Ambassador Cinema building on O’Connell Street, where Letterman witnesses an intimate concert. The waters of Forty Foot, the DART train heading north from Wicklow, good live music at the legendary McDaid’s pub on Grafton Street, the legendary windmill lane studios where U2 recorded their albums, or the Ha’penny Bridge where they took their first promotional photos are some of the key places for the band that appear in the documentary.
The walled city of the Derry Girls
You don’t need a reason to come and see this city in Northern Ireland, but now that the third and final season of ‘Derry Girls’ has finished, it can be said that Derry-Londonderry is in fashion. Is he ‘Derry Girls’ phenomenon.
Lisa McGee, its creator, engages the public with a real scenario: the mid-90s in a Northern Ireland that sees how the armed conflict gives its last blows. Although, Derry is today much more than the shadow of a conflict that has marked its recent history. Perhaps for this reason, on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreements (April 10, 1998), this city wants its entire history to be known: not just that of darkness.
To this end, Derry has designed a thematic trail that runs through some of the filming locations for the popular series, always with its magnificent walled city as a witness; a 17th century fortification that can boast of having the best preserved walls of the entire Emerald Isle. Likewise, the city’s Tower Museum has, since this month of March, a exhibition on the Derry Girls. The perfect excuse to discover the Mecca of Halloween.
An Irish movie set for Dungeons and Dragons
Once again, the great cinematographic releases of 2023 take the look to Northern Ireland, a land full of magic, mystery and mythological beings. Here reality is stranger than fiction and that is why visiting the places that served as filming locations for this new version of the famous eighties series is an experience that cannot be repeated anywhere else.
Next March 31 will be released, in Spain, ‘Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’‘ (Paramount Pictures) and places like Belfast, Carrickfergus, the Clandeboye Estate, in Bangor, or Strangford, in County Down, are obligatory stops for lovers of this small-screen classic or for playing the famous role-playing game. .
The kingdoms of ‘Game of Thrones’, in Northern Ireland
If you’re a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, you’ll be delighted to know that the settings of the series based on George RR Martin’s books are a couple of hours away by plane. The Iron Islands or the Dothraki grasslands are not the product of technology. They are unbelievable, but they are real: they are in North Ireland.
Such is the case of Castle Ward, near Strangford (County Down), which takes you into the real Winterfell. If you visit this 18th century castle you can try on the costumes of the series’ protagonists, walk through the gardens and even practice archery.
Places like the cave (Cushendun) in which the ‘Creature of Shadows’ is born, the 12th century Gothic Inch Abbey (near Downpatrick) or the cliff of Rocadragon (Fair Head, in Antrim) are now within reach of the traveler , which can step on the filming sets thanks to Game of Thrones Studio Tour, which was launched a year ago.
Blade Runner 2099: a science fiction Ireland
Yes. The biggest and most influential sci-fi movie of all time, Ridley Scott’s 1982 gem, is finally coming to the small screen with 10 episodes. It is not yet known when it will premiere on Amazon Prime Video, but it is known that, once again, the filming location is Northern Ireland. One more reason to come this Easter to discover this place that attracts experts in film and small screen locations.
Jeremy Podeswa, one of the directors of ‘Game of Thrones’, will be in charge of producing ‘Blade Runner 2099’, along with the British director and screenwriter Ridley Scott and Silka Luisa, and will lead the pilot episode. A beginning in which the landscapes of Ireland will be, once again, proof that the Emerald Isle is a living setting that seems to be taken from science fiction.