West Galway and Connemara, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is a superb location for cycling. This is a Gaelic-speaking wonderland full of jaw-dropping scenery, ancient low stone walls and pretty, rural villages. Many visitors and locals agree that this remote wonderland is best explored by bike. We were up for the challenge, so that morning we decided to jump in the saddle and go bike-riding as one of our optional extra activities on our Shackleton Tour.

We had a quick chat with our guide. Weather conditions were good – bright, dry and breezy. We found the best option was to start and finish in the same spot (Clifden) on a loop tour. There are loads of routes to choose from depending on the time you have and your appetite for the saddle.

Some popular loop tours include Errislannan Loop (14km), Sky Road Loop (16km), Ballyconneely and Roundstone Loop (40km). Ranging from 1 to 3+ hours, there is something for everyone. Experienced riders can tackle a monster 150km route around Connemara National Park, but we wanted a more relaxing experience.

We opted for Cleggan Loop, an easy-going ride of 33km from Clifden pedalling north around the rocky Connemara coastline. This route usually takes about two hours on average, but we stopped a few times for photos and refreshments. That’s the beauty of cycling – you can suit yourself and “tip away around at your ease” as the locals might say.

The winding road followed the outline of Streamstown Bay on the Aughrus Peninsula. We passed Omey Island to the west – apparently, you can visit this beautiful spot on foot when the tide is out. As we stopped off in the rocky seaside fishing village of Cleggan, a few trawlers bobbed around by the pier as we wheeled into this picturesque spot. We parked the bikes and got some lunch.

We took a stroll on Cleggan Beach, one of several sandy beaches along the route that you can visit if the mood takes you. You are really spoiled for choice. From Cleggan, a mountain road climbs gradually through a small forest before a relaxing freewheel downhill back to Clifden town.

Cycling is truly a fantastic way to combine exercise and sightseeing in wild Connemara. Check out the link below to book your ideal tour with Irish Experience Tours today.

https://irishexperiencetours.com/tours/

 

Why choose Irish Experience Tours?

It’s the trip of a lifetime, and it’s important to select the right tour company – one that makes sure you leave with special memories, incredible stories and life long friends.

So, here’s a little list that shows why you should choose us, and not someone else.

Smaller Groups

Our core belief is that smaller groups make for a far better experience. We have an average of 8-12 people on each tour. The result is that your journey feels more like a road trip with your mates, rather than a bus ride with 50 strangers. To understand our philosophy about small groups click here.

We’re number one

We have extremely high customer satisfaction and referrals because we offer travellers more of what they want – down-to-earth, real Ireland with an awesome crew and a greater emphasis on your needs.  See HERE, HERE & HERE.

The best tour guides that money can buy

Our guides have been travelling the length and breadth of Ireland for many years; as well as being your local “guidebook” they provide commentary, book activities and meals, and provide information on anything from Irish history and culture… to the best watering hole. Like you, we all have an adventurous streak and our travellers always love our enthusiasm for our country!

IRISH Owned + Operated

Support the locals! Founded in 2010, we are Irish and proud of it. We know our country and we’re proud to show it off! We are not a big corporate, selling you tours from a flash office. We don’t rent expensive retail space and we don’t pay marketing experts thousands of euros to define us – we already know who we are. We are a small team that loves this country and loves what we do. We really do get a buzz when we see our customers having a unique experience.

Outstanding customer service

If you have any problem or question, we don’t muck about, we just sort it out. Your email won’t get forwarded, your call won’t get transferred. The person you speak to is the person who will help you. Even after you book, we will keep in touch with you regularly until you start your tour.

A fully immersive tour

With us, you don’t just see Ireland, you experience it. We’re all about spontaneous exploration, immersing you in Irish life and giving you more than just a handful of happy memories. We promise you will leave having made a great group of friends from all around the world, and played a role in a thousand stories to amaze the folks back home.

More than a bus pass

Some bus companies will take you straight from A to B with barely a toilet break in between! We are Irish Experience and want to take you away from all the hustle and bustle. That means with us you will experience great stops and inclusions en route. A typical travel day can see you stop off for a short walk to a waterfall, numerous beautiful photo opportunities, pausing at Castles and early Christian relics close to the roadside, an opportunity to taste local wine/craft beer or seafood, stumbling across local festivals and events or even checking out some colourful sheep and other wildlife!

Unique Accommodation

We have our own preferred accommodation dotted throughout Ireland, where you will spend plenty of tour nights. Ireland is lucky to have a high standard of accommodation. You have the chance to stay in a variety of Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Where possible, we choose family-owned and run accommodation with a reputation for hospitality and eco-friendliness.

Pre-Booked Activities

We are the only company that lets you pre-book activities. We want to get you further off the beaten track in Ireland, immersing you in the places and activities that will, quite simply, blow you away. To name a few… climbing Irelands ‘Holy Mountain’, trekking from Doolin to The Cliffs of Moher, staying in small coastal fishing villages along the Wild Atlantic Way, catching and eating Atlantic seafood, seeing local craftsmen at work, biking around old Gaelic islands and kayaking with dolphins. However, nothing is compulsory and if you want to relax and enjoy the tour without walking a few miles, your guide will always have plenty of alternatives.

 

 

Described as “a savage beauty” by wordsmith Oscar Wilde, Connemara can make your heart sing and the rest of the world melt away. It’s rural Ireland at its most dramatic, so absorb it all with a walk into nature. Connemara’s National Park summarises all that makes this region so special, and a great starting point for exploration has to be the Diamond Hill Loop Walk. With the Atlantic on one side and the famous peaks of the Twelve Ben Mountains on the other, be prepared to stand in awe. But that’s what Connemara – and Ireland – is all about: letting go of the mundane and filling your heart with something really quite special.

We left the beautiful Boyne Valley and our group travelled westward towards County Galway, chasing the afternoon sun as we drove across Ireland. That evening, we had reached our next location – Connemara – a region famous for its wilderness and unspoiled scenery, and we were not left disappointed.

After checking in to our accommodation in the heart of Connemara, we tucked into a hearty and delicious evening dinner. We sampled some fantastic local produce (don’t miss the wild Atlantic salmon or the black pudding) before we headed off again for some fresh evening air on a gentle walk around the amazing Diamond Hill.

To set the scene, after driving the narrow country roads along the picturesque Killary Fjord, which is one of only three fjords in Ireland (the others being Carlingford Lough and Lough Swilly) we eventually arrived at Connemara National Park. Our starting point was the visitor’s centre. From here, the fully signposted and surfaced track guided us along the Sruffaunboy Nature Trail before we branched off towards the cone of Diamond Hill.

This walk is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, so there is no need to be apprehensive or nervous. Gravel footpaths and wooden boardwalks ease your passage over the sprawling bog as you approach the foot of the mountain.

From this vantage point, you can look west to the wild Atlantic and to the magnificent islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark; to Tully Mountain rising over Ballynakill Harbour and along the intricately jagged Connemara coastline. It is truly glorious. As you look east, the Twelve Bens mountains are nothing short of sensational and directly north, the summit of Mweelrea (the highest mountain in the province of Connaught and the 16th highest in Ireland) can be observed.

There are plenty of photo opportunities on this route with the Atlantic Ocean, mountains, Corrib Lake, Killary Fjord, some haunting fairy trees and the vast bogland of Connemara on our doorstep. Let’s just say don’t forget your camera.

We turned towards home and back to our accommodation through the Connemara Valleys. The walk and the fresh Connemara air left us thirsty, so we were dropped to a remote, local Irish bar to enjoy a creamy pint of the black stuff. A few locals were playing traditional music as darkness fell outside.

This easy going, a moderate walk is part of our Multi-Day Tours which range from 8 to 13 days. For a shorter trip, try our 3-day West Coast Explorer Tour. Follow the links to find out more and book your spot today.

 

Why choose Irish Experience Tours?

It’s the trip of a lifetime, and it’s important to select the right tour company – one that makes sure you leave with special memories, incredible stories and life long friends.

So, here’s a little list that shows why you should choose us, and not someone else.

Smaller Groups

Our core belief is that smaller groups make for a far better experience. We have an average of 8-12 people on each tour. The result is that your journey feels more like a road trip with your mates, rather than a bus ride with 50 strangers. To understand our philosophy about small groups click here.

We’re number one

We have extremely high customer satisfaction and referrals because we offer travellers more of what they want – down-to-earth, real Ireland with an awesome crew and a greater emphasis on your needs.  See HERE, HERE & HERE.

The best tour guides that money can buy

Our guides have been travelling the length and breadth of Ireland for many years; as well as being your local “guidebook” they provide commentary, book activities and meals, and provide information on anything from Irish history and culture… to the best watering hole. Like you, we all have an adventurous streak and our travellers always love our enthusiasm for our country!

IRISH Owned + Operated

Support the locals! Founded in 2010, we are Irish and proud of it. We know our country and we’re proud to show it off! We are not a big corporate, selling you tours from a flash office. We don’t rent expensive retail space and we don’t pay marketing experts thousands of euros to define us – we already know who we are. We are a small team that loves this country and loves what we do. We really do get a buzz when we see our customers having a unique experience.

Outstanding customer service

If you have any problem or question, we don’t muck about, we just sort it out. Your email won’t get forwarded, your call won’t get transferred. The person you speak to is the person who will help you. Even after you book, we will keep in touch with you regularly until you start your tour.

A fully immersive tour

With us, you don’t just see Ireland, you experience it. We’re all about spontaneous exploration, immersing you in Irish life and giving you more than just a handful of happy memories. We promise you will leave having made a great group of friends from all around the world, and played a role in a thousand stories to amaze the folks back home.

More than a bus pass

Some bus companies will take you straight from A to B with barely a toilet break in between! We are Irish Experience and want to take you away from all the hustle and bustle. That means with us you will experience great stops and inclusions en route. A typical travel day can see you stop off for a short walk to a waterfall, numerous beautiful photo opportunities, pausing at Castles and early Christian relics close to the roadside, an opportunity to taste local wine/craft beer or seafood, stumbling across local festivals and events or even checking out some colourful sheep and other wildlife!

Unique Accommodation

We have our own preferred accommodation dotted throughout Ireland, where you will spend plenty of tour nights. Ireland is lucky to have a high standard of accommodation. You have the chance to stay in a variety of Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Where possible, we choose family-owned and run accommodation with a reputation for hospitality and eco-friendliness.

Pre-Booked Activities

We are the only company that lets you pre-book activities. We want to get you further off the beaten track in Ireland, immersing you in the places and activities that will, quite simply, blow you away. To name a few… climbing Irelands ‘Holy Mountain’, trekking from Doolin to The Cliffs of Moher, staying in small coastal fishing villages along the Wild Atlantic Way, catching and eating Atlantic seafood, seeing local craftsmen at work, biking around old Gaelic islands and kayaking with dolphins. However, nothing is compulsory and if you want to relax and enjoy the tour without walking a few miles, your guide will always have plenty of alternatives.

For the next number of weeks, our Irish Experience Tours blog will showcase some of the amazing activities that you will experience on our tours in 2019. Come with us and get a taste of the real Ireland as we take you further off the beaten track to the hidden magic of this wonderful island.

Our tours, which are more like road-trips with friends if we’re honest, will bring you the very best of adventure, history, scenery and most importantly – fun. Come with us to the best spots, through the rugged mountains, along the most magnificent beaches and waterways, and into the greatest secrets that Ireland has to offer. Let us take you on your own voyage of discovery through the best little country in the world.

Our first stop this week is the Boyne River in Ireland’s Ancient East, a place dripping with history and heritage. All the information you need is below, and on our website, but please contact us should you have any enquiries about your tour, and get booking today.

 

Experience 1: The Boyne River Boat Tour

It was a clear and bright morning as we approached the meeting point near the visitor’s centre. The weather gods had been in good humour and a light fog on the water’s surface was clearing as we met our guide, listened to our safety brief, and clipped on our life-jackets.

Our guide, Ross, was fantastic. His knowledge of the history and heritage of the area and the river was brilliant, and the way he told the stories of the past was engaging and informative.

The boat we were going in was more like a piece of art than a form of transport. Called a naomhog (pronounced nay-vogue), which is a special type of currach, it is a long, slim boat with a wooden frame consisting of oak and spruce, steamed and bent for strength. You will learn the special paddling technique used for these boats on the journey.

They sit low in the water which adds to the experience as it feels like you are almost on top on the surface of the river, similar to driving a low-riding sports car on the road. Naomhogs were specially designed in County Kerry for speedy access to offshore islands like the Blaskets and the Skelligs (which some of you will have seen in the recent Star Wars movies).

Staying on the TV theme, if you have seen HBO’s blockbuster series Game of Thrones, the boats used are the actual boats from Game of Thrones from season 2 to 8. Even cooler, our guide Ross was a cast member and had a few brilliant stories from his time on set. As we moved along the river, I felt like a Viking from ancient times, stealing up the river as we plotted our next raid.  Ross also trained the cast in boat handling and skippered most of the boats in the show. Some of which he owns.

We begin the tour at the first lock on the oldest canal in Ireland that bisects the battlefield of the Battle of the Boyne just 3km downstream from Newgrange. I could say we’re drowning in history but maybe that’s not appropriate! Parts of the journey on the river are narrow, with high water reeds. The river widens in other sections and we got to see some of the famous scenery of the Boyne Valley. Modern bridges and roadways are the only visual clues that remind you that you are not actually back in ancient times wearing a horned helmet with a sword at your side.

We learned about the myths and legends from Irish folklore, such as the story of Fionn Mac Cumhaill who ate the Salmon of Knowledge (look it up!). Ross also told us about the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 between two kings and their armies vying for the title of King of England.

The award winning,  King’s Tour on the breath-taking Boyne River takes about 90 minutes and comes highly recommended. This unique, early morning river trip is part of our Crean and Shackleton Tours which range from 8 to 13 days. Follow the link below to find out more and book your spot today.

https://irishexperiencetours.com/tours/10-day-crean-tour-dublin-to-dublin/

 

 

Why choose Irish Experience Tours?

It’s the trip of a lifetime, and it’s important to select the right tour company – one that makes sure you leave with special memories, incredible stories and life long friends.

So, here’s a little list that shows why you should choose us, and not someone else.

Smaller Groups

Our core belief is that smaller groups make for a far better experience. We have an average of 8-12 people on each tour. The result is that your journey feels more like a road trip with your mates, rather than a bus ride with 50 strangers. To understand our philosophy about small groups click here.

We’re number one

We have extremely high customer satisfaction and referrals because we offer travellers more of what they want – down-to-earth, real Ireland with an awesome crew and a greater emphasis on your needs.  See HERE, HERE & HERE.

The best tour guides that money can buy

Our guides have been travelling the length and breadth of Ireland for many years; as well as being your local “guidebook” they provide commentary, book activities and meals, and provide information on anything from Irish history and culture… to the best watering hole. Like you, we all have an adventurous streak and our travellers always love our enthusiasm for our country!

IRISH Owned + Operated

Support the locals! Founded in 2010, we are Irish and proud of it. We know our country and we’re proud to show it off! We are not a big corporate, selling you tours from a flash office. We don’t rent expensive retail space and we don’t pay marketing experts thousands of euros to define us – we already know who we are. We are a small team that loves this country and loves what we do. We really do get a buzz when we see our customers having a unique experience.

Outstanding customer service

If you have any problem or question, we don’t muck about, we just sort it out. Your email won’t get forwarded, your call won’t get transferred. The person you speak to is the person who will help you. Even after you book, we will keep in touch with you regularly until you start your tour.

A fully immersive tour

With us, you don’t just see Ireland, you experience it. We’re all about spontaneous exploration, immersing you in Irish life and giving you more than just a handful of happy memories. We promise you will leave having made a great group of friends from all around the world, and played a role in a thousand stories to amaze the folks back home.

More than a bus pass

Some bus companies will take you straight from A to B with barely a toilet break in between! We are Irish Experience and want to take you away from all the hustle and bustle. That means with us you will experience great stops and inclusions en route. A typical travel day can see you stop off for a short walk to a waterfall, numerous beautiful photo opportunities, pausing at Castles and early Christian relics close to the roadside, an opportunity to taste local wine/craft beer or seafood, stumbling across local festivals and events or even checking out some colourful sheep and other wildlife!

Unique Accommodation

We have our own preferred accommodation dotted throughout Ireland, where you will spend plenty of tour nights. Ireland is lucky to have a high standard of accommodation. You have the chance to stay in a variety of Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Where possible, we choose family-owned and run accommodation with a reputation for hospitality and eco-friendliness.

Pre-Booked Activities

We are the only company that lets you pre-book activities. We want to get you further off the beaten track in Ireland, immersing you in the places and activities that will, quite simply, blow you away. To name a few… climbing Irelands ‘Holy Mountain’, trekking from Doolin to The Cliffs of Moher, staying in small coastal fishing villages along the Wild Atlantic Way, catching and eating Atlantic seafood, seeing local craftsmen at work, biking around old Gaelic islands and kayaking with dolphins. However, nothing is compulsory and if you want to relax and enjoy the tour without walking a few miles, your guide will always have plenty of alternatives.

Throughout the ages, there have been some great Irish men and women. Some of these past legends are particularly interesting to Irish Experience Tours, so let us tell you a little bit about the real fantastic four – St. Brendan the Navigator, Francis Crozier, Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean.

BRENDAN THE NAVIGATOR

St. Brendan the Navigator embarked on a legendary voyage that some believe took him to North America nearly 500 years before the Vikings and 1,000 years before Christopher Columbus (circa 500AD). For 40 days, St. Brendan fasted and prayed atop a mountain on the rugged Dingle Peninsula. Before he set off with 14 monks, three latecomers joined the group which interfered with Brendan’s sacred numbers. Perhaps that explains the amazing things they saw and the downright crazy stuff that happened on the way. They find an island with a dog and an Ethiopian devil. One latecomer admits to stealing from the mysterious island. Brendan exorcised the Ethiopian devil from the latecomer, and the latecomer died and was buried. They found an island, but when they lit a fire the island sank – it turned out that it was a whale!

FRANCIS CROZIER

Francis Crozier was a Northern Ireland-born explorer. Crozier was a major figure in the exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the middle of the 19th century and was a central figure in the three great endeavours of the age – navigating the North West Passage, reaching the North Pole and mapping the unknown Antarctic. Crozier was the 11th of 13 children, he commanded a ship named Terror, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for outstanding work on magnetism. Cape Crozier in Antarctica is names after him, as is our 7-day epic adventure tour.

ERNEST SHACKLETON

One Ireland’s most famous polar explorer’s, Ernest Shackleton, led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and is recognised as one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. No stranger to adventure, Shackleton climbed Mount Erebus (the most active Antarctic volcano), and he took part took part in an experimental balloon flight in 1902 in Antarctica. He also commanded the next great explorer on our list.

TOM CREAN

The famous Irish explorer Tom Crean, left the family farm in Annascaul, Co. Kerry aged 15 to join the British Navy, and lied about his age to get in. Crean was a squadron on Robert Scott’s ship Discovery on its way to Antarctica. By 1914, he was back in Antarctica on an ill-fated Endurance expedition with Ernest Shackleton that ended with one of the most remarkable stories of survival against all the odds. He was awarded the Albert Medal (for lifesaving, now called the George Cross), after he saved the life of a fellow colleague following an incredible journey leaping across the polar ice floes for 56km. Crean opened The South Pole Inn, Annascaul with his wife in 1920 which is still in business, and there is today a beer brewed after the great man.

In honour of these four legendary Irish explorers, Irish Experience Tours is proud to launch our brand-new range of epic adventure tours which are named after each of these trailblazers. Now, you can make your own discoveries and experience unforgettable adventures with us as you travel across our beautiful island and find the inner explorer in you that you never knew existed.

Follow in St Brendan’s footsteps and spend 5 days exploring the Southwest of Ireland, taking in the diverse and stunning landscapes, and seeing all the highlights. Like Crozier, you’ll also be navigating your way through the varied terrain of the Antrim coast with fellow like-minded travellers on the 7-day tour. As Shackleton did years ago, you’ll be able to make your own mark on Ireland, discovering hidden trails, lakes and peaks over 8 days, but the weather won’t be as cold as Antarctica (we hope!). Just like Crean, you’ll become an explorer too, getting off the beaten track and charting your own territories on our 10-day jam-packed adventure!

You’ll travel in a small group with an experienced local guide, exploring unique destinations and immersing yourself in local culture and Ireland’s beautiful environment. Trek along the Cliffs of Moher, bike through amazing national parks, go horse-riding in Dingle, discover the ancient sport of hurling, sample a taste of Irish whiskey in local distilleries (exploring is thirsty work), and come stargazing with us as we plot a course directly for adventure, jaw-dropping scenery, fun (craic) and unforgettable experiences.

So, if adventure is in your DNA and you live to explore new things, come and experience the real Ireland with Irish Experience Tours. Check out our brand-new tours here and find your inner explorer today. Go Further with Irish Experience Tours.

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2018.

Hello and welcome to Irish Experience Tours’ brand new travel blog! Right here you will find all the latest travel news, views and tips for exploring our great land, as well as all the information you need on the biggest and best adventure tours across the country.

From the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way, through the rolling glens and valleys of our ancient lands, to the mountainous peaks that sweep down to the blue seas surrounding our little green island – we will take you on an unforgettable journey.

Over the next few months we will bring you a selection of the very best that Ireland has to offer. Whether you are experienced explorers, adventure seekers, casual visitors, or a group of friends and family looking for an authentic Irish experience, we will take you by the hand and show you the real Ireland on a custom tour to suit your every need.

Like our tours, our blog will bring you off the beaten track and down the road less travelled, so you can get the true Irish experience. We go where the locals go. Stick with Irish Experience Tours and you will never lose your way.

With Halloween just around the corner, we at Irish Experience Tours want to share a peculiar, and completely true, story with our travel-loving friends. Before the date of 31st October was hijacked and commercialised to within an inch of its life, the beginning of November was traditionally an important part of the year.

In the Irish language, November is called Samhain (pronounced Sow-Win), which traditionally marked the end of the harvests and the start of winter. The hours of daylight dwindled and the long, dark nights beckoned. Originally a pagan festival, people believed that it was this changing of the seasons that made it easier for people, and other beings, to pass between the lands of the living and the dead.

The Kylter Inn, Kilkenny, Established by the notorious Dame Alice de Kyteler in the 13th Century

One such story begins in the ancient city of Kilkenny. There, a lady named Dame Alice Kyteler got into a wee bit of trouble. She was the first person in Ireland to be condemned for practising witchcraft. A variety of reasons conspired to convince the locals that she was a witch. Firstly, she was an outsider born to wealthy Flemish parents. The family was involved in money-lending, which may have been cause for jealousy and suspicion.

She also had four husbands, two of whom died in mysterious circumstances. She and her second husband were accused of killing the first. The death of her fourth husband led to accusations of sorcery, and worse. It was said she had a sexual affair with a demon, sacrificed animals, and concocted foul potions involving boiling cockerels, spiders and worms in a pot with the head of a beheaded thief.

All this was enough to suspect Dame Alice of witchcraft, and she was hunted…. but she escaped and fled Ireland. Unfortunately for her maid, a young lady named Petronilla de Meath, she was found to be guilty by association and was flogged and burned at the stake in the month of November 1324. Scary stuff indeed!

You can learn more about Dame Alice, witchcraft in Ireland, and the ancient city of Kilkenny on our new small group adventure tours coming up in early 2018. Subscribe to our newsletter/blog to stay informed and we will keep you posted on the best tours Ireland has to offer. Experience the real Ireland and learn about real Irish history with Irish Experience Tours.

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2017.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

In the age of computer-generated imagery (CGI), green screens, robotic actors and virtual sets; it is plain to see that the movie and TV industry is undergoing a technological and digital revolution. However, some real-life locations are so rugged, beautiful and breath-taking that they cannot be replicated digitally or fabricated on a movie set.

Our beautiful island of Ireland is home to some spectacular locations highly favoured by movie-makers and location scouts for the entertainment industry. Our unique perch at the edge of Western Europe means our land has been battered by the wild Atlantic and several glaciers over the millennia, giving us unmistakable geographical landscapes. Irish Experience Tours brings you to some of the finest spots in the land which the movie and TV buffs amongst you may recognise.

Dark Hedges, County Antrim

Beginning with the sci-fi genre, Skellig Michael is a little rocky island off the coast of County Kerry. It has featured in two movies from the Star Wars franchise: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site that doubles as the planet Ahch-To, where hero Rey tracks down Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens (2015). The idyllic location also features in the latest installation, The Last Jedi (2017), proving that huge budgets cannot substitute nature’s best efforts.

Sticking with the theme of fantasy movies, the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare feature in a number of box-office hits. Probably the most famous is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). The striking cliffs appear in a scene where Harry and Professor Dumbledore are fighting the evil horcruxes. Another fantasy movie featured the spectacular cliffs 22 years before Harry. In 1987, scenes from The Princess Bride included the Cliffs of Insanity aka the Cliffs of Moher.

trim castle

Trim Castle, County Meath

Moving into the historical action genre, the landscapes of Ireland feature heavily throughout some notable Hollywood blockbusters, including several Oscar winners. In 1995, Mel Gibson directed and starred in the historical epic, Braveheart, which centred on the life of William Wallace, a hero Scot who defied the mighty English army. The Battle of Sterling Bridge was shot in The Curragh, Co Kildare, and scenes depicting York were actually filmed in Trim Castle, Co. Meath. A few years later, the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan (1998) was shot on Irish soil. Ballinesker Beach on Curracloe Strand, Co. Wexford provided the setting for the shocking opening scene when the Allied forces landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day 1944.

Other unmistakable Irish sites have featured in some gripping action movies. Kilmainham Gaol featured in all the jail scenes in The Italian Job (1969) with Michael Caine. This is a hugely significant place in Irish history as that is where many Irish leaders during the failed 1916 Easter Rising against the British were executed. Kilmainham Gaol also featured in the factual political thriller, In The Name of The Father directed by Jim Sheridan in 1993, which starred our own Daniel Day Lewis. Picturesque parts of County Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way can be seen in older movies like Far and Away (1992), The Field (1990), Ryan’s Daughter (1970) and The Quiet Man (1952).

 

Like Hollywood movies, many TV series also features stunning locations across the Irish countryside. George RR Martin’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, perhaps the biggest and best-known TV show in the world, is shot almost entirely in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges in County Antrim became The King’s Road. Tollymore Forest Park, County Down is The Haunted Forest where the White Walkers began their journey to the Wall. Psychopath Ramsey Bolton also hunted his prey – animal and human – in these woods. Pollnagollum Cave in Co. Fermanagh was home to the Brotherhood Without Banners where Arya Stark disguised herself as a boy. Shillanavogy, County Antrim was the Dothraki’s Great Grass Sea and the entrance to Vaes Dothrak was in The Mountains of Mourne in Co. Down. Downhil Strand is a 7-mile stretch of beach overlooked by Mussenden Temple, often visited by Stannis Baratheon and Lady Melisandre as part of Dragonstone. Castle Ward in County Down became Winterfell, the home of the Starks.

Remember, when the cameras have stopped rolling, Irish Experience Tours will craft small group tours so you too can experience the magic first-hand. So, if you and your mates are “die-hard” film and TV fans, why not take a small group adventure tour with us and relive the action yourselves. Our experienced guides (none of whom who have won any Oscars, yet) will bring you to the biggest and best locations across the land.

 

Copyright Irish Experience Tours 2017.