Sprinkle stardust on your holidays and plan a blockbusting trip taking in one of Ireland's iconic film locations. The Oscar season is around the corner - the perfect time to go behind the scenes of famous Irish movie sets and follow in the footsteps of legendary Hollywood actors John Wayne, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson. Word on the street is that George Clooney and his new bride are among the A list stars putting Ireland on their itinerary for 2015 - so why not plan your own star studded break.
Discover Oscar magic in Kilkenny
The eyes of Hollywood are firmly set on culturally hot Kilkenny following the Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination of Cartoon Saloon for their film ‘The Secret of Kells'. The headquarters of this internationally acclaimed film company is in the middle of Kilkenny's Medieval Mile which stretches from the Castle to St Canice's Cathedral, taking in Rothe House and the Smithwick's Experience along the way. As well as that, part of Jim Sheridan's new movie “The Secret Scripture” is being shot in the beautiful village of Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny, on the banks of the River Nore. Kilkenny is also preparing for the possible visit this summer of George Clooney and his new wife Amal. Clooney's great-great-grandfather Nicholas Clooney is a native of the County, so get there before George does..or even better while he is there!
Be starry-eyed in Kerry!
Stunning Skellig Michael near Valentia in Co Kerry is out of this world. So much so in fact, that it was chosen as one of the locations for the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last summer. The island was closed to the public as the crew for the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise descended to film the JJ Abrams-directed blockbuster, in which Irish acting heartthrob Domhnall Gleeson has a role. Skellig Michael or Great Skellig, is a Unesco World Heritage site. This unpopulated and tranquil island is well worth exploring, amongst the treasures you will find are the ruins of a Christian monastery founded between the sixth and eighth centuries.
Follow the script to Dublin
Dublin can be heaven - especially if you are a movie fan. The capital has been an attractive set for some of the world's best known film directors and actors over the years. The glamorous Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed in the Gresham Hotel on O'Connell Street when they were filming The Spy Who Came In From The Cold in 1965. Smithfield Market doubled up as Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin for the movie.
Historic Trinity College was the setting for the popular Michael Caine drama/comedy Educating Rita in 1983. And Dublin city is the soft-focus backdrop for Once, one of the most widely-loved romances of the last decade starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. The movie tells the story of a hard-up busker as he meets his love, an immigrant flower seller on Grafton Street. You might meet someone interesting there too!
Hollywood comes to Wicklow!
Grab a front row seat in Wicklow, the location of many blockbusters and hit TV series - many which have special touring routes devoted to them. The 80 kilometre Braveheart Drive, marking the epic Mel Gibson blockbuster, begins in the appropriately named village of Hollywood and takes in the sheer drama of the Wicklow Gap, Blessington's lakes and the wild Sally Gap. Or get cast in The Michael Collins Drive and visit locations used in Neil Jordan's historical movie starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts. If you are a fan of the John Boorman Arthurian film Excalibur do the 50 kilometre Excalibur Drive which begins and ends in Roundwood weaving its way to magical Lough Tay and around dramatic cliffs.
Spectacular Kilruddery Estate near Bray is a popular location for many well-known movies and TV mini-series including My Left Foot, Far & Away, Angela's Ashes, The Tudors and Camelot. It is open at weekends from April and daily right through the summer.
Movie magic in Cork
Get the cameras rolling in the heritage seaside town of Youghal in East Cork where John Huston's 1956 epic Moby Dick was filmed. The town is full of movie memorabilia and you can round off the day with a visit to Moby Dick's pub!
In West Cork take in the stunning historic locations which feature in Michael Collins including Beal na Blath, scene of Collins' assassination and the Michael Collins Centre in Clonakilty. Another famous movie filmed in West Cork is The Wind That Shakes the Barley starring local actor Cillian Murphy and the iconic adventure The War of the Buttons was filmed in the picturesque harbour village of Union Hall, Co. Cork.
Film fun in Kerry!
Get a close up in the wild, rugged, Dingle Peninsula and Dunquin, the setting for the legendary film Ryan's Daughter starring Robert Mitchum. An entire mountain top village including a schoolhouse was built overlooking Coumeenole Beach for this classic. Some scenes from Far and Away starring a-listers Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were also filmed in the area including Clogher Strand with breath-taking views across to the Blasket Islands.
Make movie magic in Mayo!
Visit the stunning lakes around Cong, Co. Mayo where John Ford's big budget Hollywood blockbuster The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed. Do the Quiet Man guided tour of all the lovingly preserved movie locations including a replica of the cottage that featured in the film. Gorgeous Cong village, home to stately Ashford Castle, is something of a screen veteran as it also featured in the 1970's movie The Purple Taxi, Fred Astaire's last feature film appearance.