Once upon a time in Ireland
Ireland isn’t exactly the first place that pops into your mind when you think about blockbuster movies and unforgettable TV series, despite being where the roaring lion from the MGM logo was born and having a town called Hollywood in Co. Wicklow. What we are famous for is having some pretty god damn impressive scenery and every so often we let people borrow it. Here are a few interesting titbits (Love that word) about movies and TV series shot in Ireland.
The Isle of Sci-Fi
Ireland wouldn’t be my first choice when looking for a place to shoot the fantastical futuristic scenes we are used to seeing throughout the genre of Science Fiction, but what would I know about science fiction? It’s not like I’m a massive nerd or anything. Before Christian Bale ever caught tonsillitis and became Batman he was fighting dragons in a crazy post apocalyptic world alongside Mathew McConaughey and Gerard Butler. Reign of Fire’s primary location was a the huge fort under the protection of Quinn Abercromby (Christian Bale) This whole fort was painstakingly built from scratch in the Wicklow mountains making a special effort to preserve the natural beauty of the area.
Ron Perlman visited the Emerald Isle as one of the most loved characters in comic book history as the hand cannon wielding Anung Un Rama in the film “Hell boy II The Golden Army”. Guillermo Del Torro has always done a brilliant job of portraying strange mythical worlds and creatures, so it’s no surprise that of all the locations in Ireland he could have chosen, he ended up in The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Most excitingly, the newest instalment of the Star Wars series was recently filmed on Skellig Michael a small Island off the coast of Co. Kerry. Skellig Michael is sort of like Machu Pichu (if it was considerably lower and out in the middle of the sea). The rumours surrounding the filming produced some pretty hilarious pictures which people swore were taken while filming was ongoing.
Kilmainham Gaol is most known for holding the masterminds of the 1916 rising; a revolution that paved the path for Irish independence. Despite this, the most famous inmate is in fact an englishman, Michael Caine. Kilmainham Gaol is the largest unpopulated prison in all of Europe so it was the perfect place to film all the prison scenes in the 1969 classic “The Italian Job”.
From mini driving thieves to motorcycle riding mad men, the much loved TV series “Sons of Anarchy” came to Ireland back in 2010 to film a storyline in Belfast that involved the I.R.A, kidnapping and some really dodgy accents. For some odd reason they decided not to take the original cast along with them and had to audition for look-alikes, talk about cheapskates.
With theft and drugs well covered, all we needed was murder to complete the trifecta of crimes that make for good viewing. Ripper Street has that well and truly covered based on the infamous killing spree of Jack the Ripper in London in 1889. While it is set in London, Ireland seemed like the cheaper option and so they filmed most of the series in Dublin. That didn’t seem to help much, because it only managed to last two seasons before it was disbanded.
Keeping it Old-School
If loose fitting tunics and huge big swords are your thing, then you will love visiting some of the sites of these shows & films. The Irish and the Scottish have always gotten on fairly well and the best possible example of this is in the film “Braveheart”. I always crack up just as the Irish and Scottish forces are about to clash, and instead of slaughtering each other they embrace, shake hands, turn and march against the opposing English forces. Scotland in my mind doesn’t seem to have any shortage of Castles and green fields, which is why it always confuses me that they decided to film a lot of scenes here in Ireland.
If dragons, nudity and your favourite characters dying every five minutes is your thing, then head to Northern Ireland and check out some of the stunning sets on the Game of Thrones. Also the actor that played King Geoffrey, arguably the most hated character in a TV series of all time attends Trinity College here in Dublin.
Most of the time the History Channel is busy making documentaries about how aliens built the pyramids and selling other peoples crap , but once in a while they make something decent and the TV series “Vikings” is a great example. Filmed and casted in Ireland, this series covers the Viking’s chaotic exploration of Europe. It’s just as enthralling as Game of Thrones and more historically accurate than Braveheart.