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Super 8: Filmed on the West Coast

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From Hollywood blockbusters to captivating screen romances, and – most recently – a pretty incredible journey to a galaxy far, far away, the spectacular scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way has provided the backdrop for some of cinema’s most enduring moments.

Time to grab some popcorn, get comfy and discover just eight films (of many) which were filmed along the Wild Atlantic Way. Ready? Action!



Climbing the steps to the peak on Skellig Michael, County Kerry


One of the biggest franchises in recent movie history claims the Skellig Michael island off the coast of County Kerry as a key location. The strange, isolated landscape lends itself perfectly to the iconic Star Wars series, becoming a temple for the Jedi and the location for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to train the mysterious Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the ways of the Force.

Visitors can admire its unique silhouette from land on the Ring of Kerry route or from Bray Head, and the island itself can take a small amount of visitors from passenger boats between May to September. Once there, you can walk the historic pathways to the island’s standout beehive monastery structures. The Last Jedi returns to the Wild Atlantic Way with Skellig Michael and Malin Head in Co Donegal featuring throughout. To find out more about this otherworldly place, check out this piece on the Skelligs.


Ards_500x500.jpgHarry and Dumbledore soul searching at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare


The towering Cliffs of Moher on the Cliff Coast are now Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. But their impressive scale and size were also used for a pivotal scene featuring the boy wizard and Professor Dumbledore in the penultimate Harry Potter film. Can’t blame the filmmakers for being charmed by this spot; these cliffs are pretty magical on and off screen.


RichardHarris-TheField.jpgRichard Harris as Bull McCabe in The Field. Credit @ Film Ireland


Adapted from John B. Keane’s acclaimed play, directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In America) and starring the legendary Richard Harris and an unforgettable John Hurt, this Oscar-nominated film is a stark and powerful portrayal of conflict and pride. The coveted land featured in the film can be found in Leenane and Ashleigh in County Galway, and is an enthralling character in itself. 


QuietMan2.jpgMaureen O’Hara and John Wayne in The Quiet Man. Credit @ Irish Central


A true classic, The Quiet Man gave many audiences worldwide their first glimpse of the auld sod. Among wild and green countryside, it portrays one of the most quintessential screen romances of all time – between John Wayne’s Irish-born American and Maureen O’Hara’s feisty Irish cailín. Scooping an Oscar for Best Director, John Ford’s depiction of County Mayo’s resplendent scenery and rolling hills have drawn movie lovers to this part of the Bay Coast since its 1952 release. 


Sarah Miles and Christopher Jones in the sweeping tragic romance Ryan's Daughter. Credit @ Mubi


An Oscar-winning romance, this David Lean-directed epic starred Robert Mitchum and was filmed along the striking Dingle Peninsula, including the famous opening scene on Inch Strand. Locals from the town of Dunquin were happily hired as film extras and visitors have flocked to this corner of County Kerry ever since to see just where so many scenes were shot. The same idyllic locations were also used over 30 years later for the Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman film Far and Away: don’t mention the accents though.


WindShakesBarley.jpgStunning Cork scenery and Cillian Murphy in The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Credit @ Volta


This historical drama from celluloid heavyweight Ken Loach tells the story of the Irish Civil War, and won the hugely prestigious Palme D’Or at the annual Cannes Film Festival following its release in 2006. Filmed across much of County Cork including Bandon and Timoleague, the Haven Coast’s exquisite hilly countryside provides a devastatingly pictorial backdrop to the action on screen. 


Excalibur.jpgLush greens surround the Arthurian legend of Excalibur. Credit @ Time Out


Filmed entirely in Ireland by British director and Irish resident John Boorman, including Derrynane in County Kerry, this 1981 Oscar-nominated fantasy-action caper was a hit with both film lovers and critics. A bona fide cult classic today, the film also features its share of remarkable actors, including Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson. 


PrincessBride.jpgWestley scales the ‘Cliffs of Insanity'. Credit @ IFI


A real family favourite, fantasy-comedy The Princess Bride has delighted audiences of all ages for over 30 years, and is regularly voted as one of the greatest films of all time. However, what fans may not know is that the film’s vertigo-inducing ‘Cliffs of Insanity’ were actually the Wild Atlantic Way’s Cliffs of Moher! Those captivating cliffs sure know how to cameo.

It’s not just breathtaking landscapes that draw filmmakers to these shores; stories do too. In 2015, the mesmerising animated feature film Song of the Sea, inspired by traditional folk tales of the Wild Atlantic Way and the islands of County Kerry, was nominated for an Academy Award. 

If you’re passionate about film and visiting the Wild Atlantic Way, why not time your trip to coincide with one of the route’s thriving film festivals? Check out Galway Film Fleadh, Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival and Dingle Film Festival to get started, or start exploring the route.

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