Fourteen years after the critical and commercial success of In Bruges, writer-director Martin McDonagh is reteaming with his two stars — Colin Farrell (46) and Brendan Gleeson (67) — for another black comedy set in a wanderlust-inspiring locale. This time around, the action has moved to the actors’ homeland of Ireland. The Banshees of Inisherin, which hits theaters Oct. 21, is set on a fictional island but filmed on the very real (and very beautiful) islands of Inishmore and Achill. It’s 1923, and as the civil war rages on the Emerald Isle, a different type of battle emerges when Colm (Gleeson) abruptly ends his lifelong friendship with Pádraic (Farrell). When Pádraic refuses to accept it, events escalate and quickly spin out of control. The movie got a 13-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Before you get transported to the wild and windswept world of Inisherin, kick back with a Guinness and check out these 10 Ireland-set films, from swoony romances to inspiring biopics to historic epics. No passport required!
The Quiet Man (1952)
The premise: John Ford and John Wayne had one of the most fruitful collaborations in Hollywood history. Among their few non-Westerns was this quirky romantic comedy, which starred the Duke as retired Irish American boxer Sean Thornton, who returns to his birth village of Innisfree and falls for feisty redhead Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara). The only thing standing in his way is Mary Kate’s cantankerous brother Red (Victor McLaglen), and their animosity erupts into a hilariously long-winded fistfight that stretches over nine minutes — and is punctuated by a quick drink together in the village pub.
Where it was filmed: Standing in for the fictional Innisfree is the town of Cong in County Mayo; much of the movie was shot on the grounds of Ashford Castle, which now operates as a luxury hotel.
Ryan’s Daughter (1970)
The premise: This epic romance by Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia director David Lean is set on the Dingle Peninsula in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising. Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles, 80), the daughter of the local publican, is married to town schoolmaster Charles Shaugnessy (Robert Mitchum), but she begins an ill-fated affair with the enemy, British officer Maj. Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones). The nationalist townsfolk are unsurprisingly scandalized by the relationship, and if the story sounds familiar, it was based on Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
Where it was filmed: Dingle Peninsula locations used in the film included Inch Beach, Coumeenole Beach, Minard Castle and the parish of Dún Chaoin, which stood in for Shaughnessy’s schoolhouse. Ashe’s Seafood Restaurant, which is still operating in Dingle, was a popular hangout spot for the cast and crew.
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My Left Foot (1989)
The premise: Daniel Day-Lewis, 65, won his first of three Academy Awards for playing Christy Brown, an Irish man who lived with severe cerebral palsy and only had control over the title extremity. With the support of his mother, Bridget (fellow Oscar winner Brenda Fricker, 77), Brown learns to write and paint with his left foot, eventually publishing the autobiography that would inspire the film. “The story of Christy Brown is one of the great stories of human courage and determination,” Roger Ebert wrote in his four-star rave. “He belongs on the same list with Helen Keller, and yet it is hard to imagine Christy being good company for the saintly Miss Keller, since he was not a saint himself but a ribald, boozing, wickedly gifted Irishman who simply happened to be handicapped.”
Where it was filmed: Scenes were shot at the 17th-century Killruddery House on the outskirts of Dublin. The grand estate has also appeared in Far and Away, Excalibur, The Tudors and Angela’s Ashes.
The Commitments (1991)
The premise: In this scruffy cult hit, unemployed North Dubliner Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) assembles “the world’s hardest-working band,” composed entirely of folks from their rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Much to their surprise, Rabbitte decides the band will play 1960s soul music, inspired by the likes of Wilson Pickett. As he sees it, working-class Dubliners have quite a bit in common with the Black musicians who poured their hearts and souls into the music of the civil rights era. Among the impressive musicians who buoy the fictional band’s covers of songs such as “In the Midnight Hour” and “Mustang Sally” is the Joe Cocker–like lead singer Deco Cuffe, played by Andrew Strong, who was only 16 years old during filming.
Where it was filmed: Dublin is a beautiful city, but for this film, the production team chose decidedly unglamorous spots, including suburban railway stations, church halls and dilapidated pool halls.
Into the West (1992)
The premise: This magical realist family adventure about the marginalized Irish Travelers subculture was written by Jim Sheridan, 73, a playwright and filmmaker usually known for darker stories such as In the Name of the Father and The Boxer. Ossie (Ciarán Fitzgerald) and Tito (Rúaidhrí Conroy) live in the Dublin slums with their widowed father (Gabriel Byrne, 72), who battles alcoholism, and their humdrum existence gets a jolt of excitement when their grandfather shows up with a mythical white horse, Tír na nÓg. When the police and a devious horse breeder steal it, the boys set off to rescue their steed on a journey across the wild western coast of Ireland.
Where it was filmed: Among the gorgeous western locales highlighted in the film are the iconic Cliffs of Moher and the village of Roundstone in County Galway.
Watch it: Into the West on Prime Video
The premise: This gently sweet, Dublin-set romance follows two unnamed leads who meet by chance and make beautiful music together — literally. He (Glen Hansard, 52) is a busker and songwriter who spends his days working at his dad’s Hoover repair shop; she (Markéta Irglová) is a Czech immigrant who sells flowers. The sleeper hit was made for a wee budget of about $150,000, but it became a global sensation, grossing about $20 million worldwide. It won the Oscar for best original song for “Falling Slowly” and the Independent Spirit Award for best foreign film, before spawning an eight-time Tony-winning Broadway musical.
Where it was filmed: The film opens with Hansard busking on Grafton Street, which is where he actually got his start alongside the likes of musician Damien Rice and Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Leap Year (2010)
The premise: When her boyfriend doesn’t propose after four years of dating, Boston real estate stager Anna Brady (Amy Adams) decides to take advantage of an old Irish leap day tradition called Bachelor’s Day: If you ask a man to marry you on Feb. 29, he’s obligated to say yes. Anna heads to Ireland to pop the question, but a series of travel mishaps set her off course, and she finds herself having to rely on a grouchy innkeeper named Déclan (Matthew Goode) to drive her from the seaside village of Dingle to Dublin. This is a romantic comedy, so you might not be shocked to hear that Déclan isn’t nearly as surly as he seems…
Where it was filmed: The film is practically a brochure for the Ireland tourism board, with scenes shot at the Carton House Hotel in Maynooth, St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, and the Wicklow Mountains. Though Déclan’s village of Dingle is a real place, the scenes that supposedly took place there were actually shot in Inishmore in the Aran Islands.
The premise: In this dark morality tale, Brendan Gleeson, 67, plays a priest named Father James. One day, a mystery man comes into his confessional and tells him that he was sexually abused as a child and will kill Father James in a week’s time — not because he was the perpetrator but because he’s a good man, and his loss will hurt the Catholic Church more. Will James defend himself? Tell the police? Resign himself to his fate? Rounding out the cast is a slew of Irish actors you’ll recognize, including Chris O’Dowd, Aiden Gillen (54), and Gleeson’s son, Domnhall.
Where it was filmed: The pitch-black subject matter is contrasted by the natural beauty of the town of Easkey in County Sligo, which is known as Yeats Country, with scenes also depicting Streedagh Beach and Benbulben Mountain.
The premise: Saoirse Ronan earned an Oscar nomination for this lovely period romance, based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. She plays Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950s and becomes torn between her new and old lives. She’s also torn between the men she meets and falls for in each country: the Italian American plumber Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) in Brooklyn and the rich bachelor Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) in her small Irish hamlet.
Where it was filmed: Many of the scenes in the Irish portion of the film were shot in the County Wexford town of Enniscorthy, which is not far from Curracloe Beach, the filming location for the infamous D-Day landing scene in Saving Private Ryan.
Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)
The premise: Known for his classic romance Moonstruck, Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley, 72, adapted his Broadway play Outside Mullingar for the big screen. Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) and Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan) have lived on neighboring farms in County Westmeath for their entire lives. Despite being very, very attractive, they’re both unlucky in love. Rosemary begins to fall for Anthony, but he remains oblivious, until he’s spurred into action when his father, Tony (Christopher Walken, 79), threatens to sell the family farm to his banker nephew from New York (Jon Hamm, 51). Critics weren’t exactly fond of the cast members’ Irish accents, but there’s something comforting about this retro rom-com.
Where it was filmed: The movie was shot in the County Mayo towns of Crossmolina and Ballina — which just so happens to be the birthplace of President Joe Biden’s great-great-great grandfather, who emigrated to Scranton after the Irish famine of the 1840s.
Nicholas DeRenzo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and travel. Previously he was executive editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset and New York magazine.