Have you seen The Banshees of Inisherin?
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There’s no doubt that the newest movie made on location in Ireland has received critical acclaim, with many film pundits praising it while filmgoers are split down the middle, between loving it and absolutely hating the movie for its dark undertones.
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The Searchlight Pictures flick scored a hat trick at January’s Golden Globes Awards in Beverly Hills, winning Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Actor for Colin Farrell and Best Screenplay for writer-director Martin McDonagh.
At the annual Oscar’s — to be held March 13th — the movie is also expected to pick some awards.
Whichever camp you’re in, you can’t argue that the cinematography is incredible and of course that’s thanks to the beautiful locations where it was filmed.
A good portion of the movie was made on Inishmore, the largest island on the Aran Islands.
But it was also shot on Achill Island, the largest of Ireland’s offshore islands.
The little-known island to many international tourists is a landscape of rugged beauty, where you’ll find the highest sea cliffs in Ireland (higher than the much more famous Cliffs of Moher) as well as five Blue Flag beaches.
Of those, Keem Strand is the most popular, which was recently named the best wild swimming spot in the UK and Ireland.
Keem Strand features in the official poster for the film as well as providing the shoot location for some of its key scenes, including the home of Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleason) and the final scene of the movie.
If you’re planning a Wild Atlantic Way road trip, be sure to include Achill Island on your itinerary.
If you’ve seen the movie and you’re captivated by the beautiful island landscapes, or perhaps you want to follow in the footsteps of Farrell and Gleason, be sure to check out the island’s newly created locations trail that will go a long way toward helping you discover Achill Island.
Here’s what you can expect to see.
Cloughmore, located on the southeastern corner of the island, was the setting for JJ Devin’s pub (also known in the movie as “Jonjo’s”).
The ocean and cliffs, which form the backdrop from the fictional pub can also be seen during the scene when the two main characters are talking at a wooden table outside the pub.
Unfortunately, the building — which was constructed by set workers — has since been demolished. Singer Taylor Swift has said she would visit Achill if the house is rebuilt.
Several hundred meters from the pub, also in Cloughmore, is a statue of the Virgin Mary at a crossroads.
It’s where several road scenes were filmed, including the cart journey when Colm brings home Padraic (Farrell) home after he gets a beating in the village.
There is actually no fork in the road and the statue was donated to be used as a prop.
Purteen Harbor, which is located between the villages of Keel and Pollagh, was transformed into a portside street scene complete with village post office and shop.
The shop known as O’Riordan’s was constructed especially for the movie. The nearby cottages were a façade erected in front of existing fishermen’s buildings near the harbor.
Keem Bay is located at the western end of the island. Its finest attribute is the beautiful sandy beach that is featured in several scenes.
The beach is bordered on two sides by cliffs (on the east, you’ll see the slopes of Croaghaun Mountain and on the west is a spar called Moyteoge).
A former coastguard station overlooks the bay and marks the beginning of a 1.5 kilometer walk that is popular with tourists.
Keem Bay is the setting for Gleason’s character, Colm.
The private building was made over by the crew. Scenes within the house were filmed on a set.
Corrymore Lake (also known as Lough Acorrymore) was the setting for Mrs. McCormick’s cottage and also the place where a tragic event takes place in the movie.
The lake is one of the starting points of a popular hike to the top of the Croaghan Cliffs, which stand at about 2,257 feet (687 meters), so well worth the effort if you want to get fabulous views from the top as you discover Achill Island.
St. Thomas’s Church in Dugort, on the north side of the island, was used for the Catholic mass scenes in the movie.
It is actually an Anglican church, belonging to the Church of Ireland.
Dugort is home to two Blue Flag beaches, including Silver Strand at the base of the Slievemore mountain, and Golden Strand, known for its sandy dunes and grasses.
This region of Achill is one of the island’s first tourist spots where the former Slievemore Hotel was established in 1839.
The hotel was opened by Protestant evangelists who came to Achill from England in an effort to convert the local population to Protestanism.
It was part of a colony established on the island that also included St. Thomas’s Church, male and female schools as well as a printing press.
You can find out more about the Colony and this fascinating part of Achill’s history on The Colony walking tour.
If you’re looking for a driver-guided tour, you can find that at Achill Coaches.
The full-day coach tours are available from Westport, Newport and Mulranny.
Additional tour guides are also available by contacting Achill Tourism at [email protected] or by calling 098-20400.
Is Achill Island part of your Ireland vacation itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.