Top ten adventure vacations in Ireland

For the nature lovers among you Ireland offers unspoiled terrain, lavish green hills and a rugged landscape. Few locations rival the Emerald Isle when it comes to the great outdoors.

Caving in the Burren

The Burren is one of Ireland’s premiere cave attractions in Ireland. The word ‘burren’ translates into great rock which is precisely what this area is. It has been described as a limestone desert. There are almost one hundred megalithic tombs in this area, portal dolmens and a Celtic high cross. There are over 35 miles of cave passages here. The Ailiwee cave is the Burren’s most well known cave and is definitely worth a visit. Here visitors can sample great caverns, stalactites and subterranean rivers.

Rockclimbing in Glendalough Co. Wicklow

Glendalough which translates into ‘Glen of two lakes’ is one of Ireland’s first Medieval monastic settlements which dates back to the 6th century. Here in the spectacular glacial valley rock climbers can really appreciate the splendor of Mother Nature. Popular climbing sections include the Big Jane; Hobnail Buttress and the East Wing. The climbs vary between one and four pitches.

Mountain climbing

Whether you want to take a stroll up to Three Rock Mountain in Dublin or you are willing to attempt to conquer Croagh Patrick in Mayo, Ireland has mountains big and small that will satisfy any mountain climber. The views on offer are guaranteed to take your breath away. With over 390 mountains, there is no shortage of places to go.

Kayaking and canoeing

With endless rivers and lakes there is no shortage of water for those of you interested in kayaking or canoeing in Ireland. The watershed provided by the Macgillicuddy Reeks in Co.Kerry is a popular destination for water enthusiasts. Coupled with hundreds of rivers and lakes spread throughout the country you are guaranteed to find several spots for the avid water lover. For those of you who prefer the ocean you should check out Blacksod and Broad Haven and Erris, Mayo.

Paintballing

If you have a competitive streak and want to mix the great outdoors with ducking and diving then paint balling in Ireland should be top of your list. The sport has increased in popularity in recent years with many Irish companies opening extensive adventure courses which include woodland, trenches and swamps all year round. From Actionpak paint balling in Kinsale Co. Cork to in to Elite paintballing in Dungarven Co. Waterford, there are over twenty venues throughout the country dedicated to the team sport.

Paragliding

Paragliding in Ireland is yet another way to sample the spectacular views that the country has on offer. For those of you who have been previously trained in this sport you should contact the the Irish National Association for the Sports of Hang Gliding, Paragliding, for more information on the best spots. They have offers in place for tourists who wish to get involved and also have many annual events to participate in.

Boating on the River Shannon

Ireland’s longest river is the perfect destination for long summer evenings. Not only do you get to sample the beauty of the winding path of Ireland’s rivers but this is also a very cost effective method of seeing the country. Tour operators offer a large variety of boats and guides on the best routes to take. Some operators offer interactive tours where you can pre-plan your desired route. When you dock in the many towns and villages along the way you will be exposed to the true taste of Irish hospitality.

Orienteering

With thousands of acres of woodland and forest Ireland offers some of the most intricate and challenging orienteering routes. There are 21 orienteering clubs throughout the country while many outdoor centers offer orienteering also. This is a great way to get to grips with the Irish landscape as you manoeuvre through the countryside while the clock ticks down.

Scenic walking tours

Few outdoor experiences can rival the simplicity and beauty of a walking tour in Ireland. No matter where your trip to Ireland might take you, whether it’s Dublin City or the Dingle Peninsula, there are long and short walks all around Ireland surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Some of our favorites include The Wicklow way through Glendalough and Slieve Blooms which take in Co. Laois and Offaly.
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Ireland’s Travel Secrets: Copper Coast, County Waterford

The Copper Coast, in County Waterford, is named after the historic metal-mining industry and is now a tourist attraction thanks to the geological history of the area from Palaeozoic volcanism to the last ice age.

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In 2001 the area was declared a European Geopark. In 2004 it was named a UNESCO Global Geopark. The Copper Coast stretches 10.5 miles from Kilfarrasy to Stradbally.

The region is known for its panoramic seascapes, cliffs, bays, and coves. In fact, the Copper Coast Road, the R675 stretching from Dungarvan to Tramore, is considered to be one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world. It’s also known for it’s beautiful, clean beaches such as Clonea and Bunmahon and the village of Bunmahon, Boatstrand, Dunhill, Annestown and Fenor. Tramore, the popular seaside resort, is the best known town along the Copper Coast, but it also has a wealth of “undiscovered” secluded coves and beaches.

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At Monksland Church, in Knockmahon, there is a visitor center dedicated to the geopark and its 460 million years of history. The geopark itself is an outdoor museum of geological records. The park explains how volcanoes, oceans, deserts and ice sheets all combined to create the rocks which provide the physical foundation of the natural and cultural landscapes of the area.

For those who want to explore the area’s mining center Bunmahon is the town to visit. This was the center of copper mining in the area during the 19th century. In fact, some of the Tankardstown Engine House is still standing near the village.

The Geological Garden, in Bunmahon, provides visitors with a glimpse into the geology of the Copper Coast. The Time Path in the garden will guide you through geological time with 28 slabs depicting the major steps in Earth history and evolution of life. There are also two ogham stones found nearby which are aligned to the summer solstice.

Westerly View, From Bunmahon, The Copper Coast, County Waterford, Ireland
Westerly View, From Bunmahon, The Copper Coast, County Waterford, Ireland

Other historic points of interest are the Gaulstown Dolmen and Dunhill Castle. The Gaulstown Dolmen consists of six upright stones forming a chamber with a capstone some five meters in length. The two portal stones stick out at the front and are at least two meters high. There are also a holy well, standing stones and promontory forts in the area.

Dunhill Castle was built by the la Poer family in the early 1200s. There is also some evidence of an earlier Celtic fort on the hilltop. The town’s name is derived from the Irish translation of the fort of the rock. While the silhouette of the castle is impressive, it comprises of only about half a 15th century tower with bits of outer walls dating to the early 13th century.

While you’re in the area you can take advantage of the beautiful countryside by taking a walk in the woods, on the shore or along country lanes. Whichever you choose you can dip into the geology, archaeology, the mining heritage, and the rich flora and fauna of the area. If you’re looking for inspiration, route maps are available from the visitor center. You can also download a podcast (here) that will guide you through the Annestown Heritage Trail.

The eight beaches in the area afford visitors the opportunity to avail of various activities including surfing or exploring the islands and caves via kayak. There’s also a great deal of good fishing to be found along this coast.

If water-based fun isn’t for you there’s always the Bog of Fenor which holds a wealth of regional flora and fauna. There’s also a mini-farm which is a big hit with children and the Ballymoat gardens.

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New York Times and Yeats

TheLake_Isle_of_InnisfreeThe New York Times has arisen and gone to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, as the 150th anniversary of W.B. Yeats’s birth approaches.

The paper’s latest Emerald Isle adventure sees author Russell Shorto sojourn to Sligo and Leitrim in search of one of the most famous islands in poetry.

“Yeats named the poem after an actual place, an island in the middle of Lough Gill, a lake that spreads itself languidly across five miles of furiously green landscape in County Sligo in northwest Ireland,” he writes.

Despite the poem’s ubiquity, and the fact that the island’s name has been appropriated by cosmetics, B&Bs and a local tour boat, Shorto says it still retains the capacity to charm.
“When I reached the lakeshore, I found the opposite of a tourist site,” he continues. “I could barely make my way out to the water to get a view, so thick was the shoreline with trees and brush.”

2015 is the 150th anniversary of Yeats’s birth on June 13, 1865, with Yeats 2015 (yeats2015.com) seeing a host of events, readings, plays and celebrations to mark the occasion.
Even so, this tiny island (you’d have a hard time fitting a clay and wattle cabin – let alone a bee-loud glade – on this quarter-acre hump) is remarkably undersold as an attraction… and perhaps the better for it.
Visitors can take a tour of Lough Gill on the Rose of Innisfree (roseofinnisfree.com, €15/€7.50pp), and local SUP (Stand-Up Paddling) operators SUPforall (facebook.com/supforall, below) run regular tours, kicking off on the River Bonnet and proceeding to the lake.

On my last visit, the waters were glassy-calm around the tree-covered mound, the only sign of man in the shape of a small concrete pier.
I had to pull back branches and thorns to beat a path forward.
“It’s tiny, and looks like a bur, a bristling seed pod, almost angrily sprouting trees and brush from its humpy back,” as Shorto writes.
He goes on to laud the “craggy loveliness” of Yeats Country highlights, including Glencar waterfall, Ben Bulben (“like a natural acropolis”) and Slish Wood – places that seem “carved to suit his poetry, rather than the other way round.”

Glencar Waterfall, Co. Leitrim (1)(1)

Last Saturday, when the New York Times story appeared, a new walking trail was launched at Knocknarea. Queen Maeve’s Trail (sligowalks.ie) begins in Strandhill, following a new series of pathways, wooden steps and raised boardwalks to sweeping views over Sligo Bay.
The paper has a daily circulation of some 1.8 million.
Sligo itself is described in the piece as “an ancient and lively enough little center, dominated by its cathedral and ringed with pubs where there’s nonstop rugby and soccer on the telly and you can order not just Irish stew and Guinness, but also chicken curry and New Zealand sauvignon blanc.”

But Yeats Country itself makes the lasting impression.
“Yeats’s meditations weren’t urban, and neither was mine,” Shorto concludes.
You can read the full piece here.
NB: An earlier version of this story stated that Mr. Shorto described the isle as ‘five miles long’. He was of course referring to Lough Gill, and not Innisfree.

 

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NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/travel/in-ireland-chasing-the-wandering-soul-of-yeats.html?_r=0

How to Take a ‘Game of Thrones’ Tour of Northern Ireland


Game of Thrones MapCourtesy Northern Ireland Tourist Board

The Northern Ireland tourism board hopes to attract tourists by billing itself as “The Real Westeros,” thanks to its large number of Game of Thrones filming locations.

Game of Thrones has already brought more than £87 million to Northern Ireland, where many of the show’s scenes filmed, but that hasn’t stopped local officials from looking for new ways to cash in on the hit HBO show. With GOT’s fifth season debuting on April 12, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has put together a map of the series’ filming locations, including a three-day itinerary for the ultimate Game of Thrones road trip. The new, free resources are designed to bring more tourists, and tourism dollars, to the region.

The Discover Westeros tour includes stops at Castle Ward, better known to fans of the show as the Stark’s home, Winterfell; Ballintoy Harbour, which stood in during a pivotal scene for Theon Greyjoy in season two; and The Dark Hedges, which is featured during Arya Stark’s escape from King’s Landing with Yoren, of the Night’s Watch.

You can download the full itinerary, maps, and details about where Game of Thrones will be filming next at www.discovernorthernireland.com/gameofthrones.

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High-tech interactive tourist office in Dublin

Fáilte Ireland has officially opened a new tourism information office in Dublin which it says is state-of-the-art, combining high-tech digital delivery with personal interaction.

Located at 25 Suffolk Street, the new ‘Visit Dublin’ outlet aims to provide visitors with up-to-date and relevant information “in a way that is easy to follow, intuitive and accessible to all”.

Features in the new office include ‘The Inspiration Wall’, a large-scale video wall presenting specially commissioned photographs; interactive pods to help visitors access relevant information quickly; and ‘The Social Media Wall’, another large digital display showing all the social media posts and tweets tagged with #lovedublin and filling the wall with the visitor’s own images and experiences of Dublin on an almost live basis.

There’s also a ‘What’s On’ area presenting events, concerts and special exhibitions and updated on a daily basis and ‘The App Wall’, where key smartphone apps are promoted.

Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland’s head of Dublin, said: “This new ‘Visit Dublin’ office has been purposely designed to exploit the latest in technology to ensure that visitors here are both informed and inspired.

“We want visitors to Dublin to actively engage and explore their surroundings and we have a variety of easy to use and attractive tools for them to do so in this office. With its focus on the needs of the modern traveller and the provision of the most up to date information, we believe we now have a tourism office in Dublin that sets a benchmark nationally and, indeed, globally”.

 

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Ireland’s most unusual tourist attractions

Sky Garden
There are mainstays of any tourist guide to Ireland: Kilmainham Gaol, the Guinness Brewery, the Cliffs of Moher and Newgrange are permanent fixtures on such lists, and rightly so, given their historical significance, natural beauty and access to the black stuff.
While Ireland has a rich tapestry of tourist destinations, there are attractions that we feel don’t receive the attention that they deserve. We’ve put together a short list of some of Ireland’s quirkier destinations that you may wish to consider on your next trip across the Atlantic.

 

Cork Butter Museum

While a butter museum may not sound like a must-see tourist hotspot, the Cork Butter Museum actually tells a very important story about Ireland’s development. The museum’s website describes butter as ‘Ireland’s most important food export’, and as Cork’s butter market was the world’s largest, what better place could there be to learn about something so vital to Ireland’s history? The Butter Museum includes such highlights as a 1,000 year old keg of butter, a tour of butter making through the ages and a comprehensive collection of Irish butter labels.

 

Irish Sky Garden

Located near Skibbereen, West Cork, the Irish Sky Garden is the creation of artist James Turrell. It’s a massive conceptual garden built around a huge crater that contains a central plinth. Lie on the plinth and look upwards and you’ll see the sky framed perfectly by the rim of the crater. Just keep your mouth closed if it’s raining.

 

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Visiting a cathedral is nothing unusual for a trip to Ireland. More often than not, they’re beautiful buildings steeped in history. Where Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin differs, however, is the bizarre contents of its medieval crypt. Open to the public, Christ Church’s crypts contain a mummified cat chasing a mummified rat (mentioned by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake) and the heart of Laurence O’Toole (patron saint of Dublin) amongst other oddities.

Dublin Christchurch

Indian Sculpture Park

Victoria’s Way in County Wicklow is home to ’33 black granite stone sculptures and three bronzes…ranging in size from 5ft 6ins to about 15ft’. The creation of a wealthy German with a love of the Far East is behind the Indian Sculpture Park, which contains a number of stunning pieces of art. Please note that the park closes during the winter.

 

St. Michan’s Mummies

A return to the crypts for this attraction, this time at St Michan’s church in Dublin. Deep down beneath the church lie the mummified remains of some of Ireland’s most influential families of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the remains lie in incredibly ornate coffins, and all are in remarkable condition due to the dry air beneath the church. If you’re going to visit one large collection of mummies while you’re in Ireland, make it this one.

 

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36 Hours in Dublin by the New-York Times

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After decades of tumultuous change, a more refined wave of affluence has reached Dublin, where visitors will find a restaurant renaissance, musical creativity and a glorious sense of history.
Video by Fritzie Andrade, Max Cantor, Chris Carmichael and Aaron Wolfe on November 12, 2014. 

Dublin’s been through tumultuous change in recent decades, from the Celtic Tiger years, when BMWs were de rigueur, to the post-crash depression, when the cacophony of incessant building suddenly went silent. Today, signs of economic recovery are emerging, but it’s a more refined wave of affluence than what the flashy boom years had to offer. The city is finding a new way to exist — neither ostentatious with wealth nor bowed down under debt. A hugely popular bike share program has replaced the “beamers,” craft beer is gaining precedence over elaborate cocktails, and Dublin restaurants are undergoing a creative renaissance that prioritizes imagination and Irish ingredients over heavily stylized and overpriced dishes. Throughout it all, from its centuries-old pubs to its Georgian architecture to the stately Trinity College at its center, the city has retained its glorious sense of history.

Friday

1. ­Begin in the Bog | 3 p.m.

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street (free admission) is worth multiple visits, thanks to a well-signed archaeological collection that provides an excellent background for a visit to Ireland. Bronze Age gold jewelry dug up during turf cutting, Viking swords and medieval farming tools are all on display in this handsomely decorated Palladian structure that dates back to 1890. The stars of the show, however, are the “bog people” — preserved corpses of men who were killed (presumably sacrificed) and tossed into peat bogs during the Iron Age. The preservative qualities of the bogs ensured that the bodies are in remarkable condition — one still has nearly a full head of curly hair.

2. ­ Craft on Draft | 5:30 p.m.

The craft beer scene has exploded in the last few years, with bottles of Irish-made lagers, ales, stouts and ciders now standard issue at almost every city watering hole. For one of the biggest selections of craft brews, head to Against the Grain, an unpretentious pub on Wexford Street with hundreds of offerings, including Irish-made bottles from O’Hara’s, Eight Degrees Brewing and Mac Ivors. The pub is owned by the Galway Bay Brewery, which produces its own range of delectable drafts.

3. ­ French-Irish Cuisine | 8 p.m.

The Green Hen, a much-lauded restaurant on buzzy Exchequer Street, has won many admirers with its combination of French atmosphere and Franco-Irish cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Try the pan-fried duck breast, which comes with a purée of parsnips and a celeriac mash, and be sure to order a side of bread, a moist, dark version of classic Irish wheaten bread, made with Guinness and black treacle. Dinner for two, about 80 euros, or about $100, at $1.21 to the euro.

4. ­Late-Night Tipple | 10:30 p.m.

Down the street from the Green Hen is Fallon & Byrne, a hybrid food hall, deli, restaurant and wine shop, housed in a former ­telephone exchange, that specializes in high-quality produce and artisanal food. The basement houses the wine cellar, a chic and convivial space where you can pull bottles off the shelves lining the walls and enjoy them at the communal tables scattered around the cozy room, along with a menu of bar snacks like cheese, crostini and oysters.

Saturday

5. Medieval Cathedral | 10:30 a.m.

Much of Ireland’s history can be read in Christ Church Cathedral, which dates back to circa 1030. William of Orange came here to give thanks after he ensured the Protestant ascendancy at the Battle of the Boyne; it houses Strongbow’s tomb; and parts of the television series “The Tudors” were filmed inside (admission, 6 euros). The medieval crypt is full of treasures, including a mummified cat and rat discovered stuck in an organ pipe (so iconic they rate a mention in James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”). The belfry tour (4 euros; 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.) provides a beautiful view from the top and an up-close look at the flying buttresses, as well as the chance to try bell-ringing. If you want to go even farther back in time, get the combination ticket (13.25 euros) that includes the Dublinia museum, the Viking “experience” connected to Christ Church by bridge, where hokey but entertaining exhibits impart an extraordinary amount of information about Dublin’s beginnings as a Viking settlement.

Christchurch

6. Bikes by the Bridges | 1:30 p.m.

Dublin got a bike share program in 2009, and its enormous popularity (it’s now one of the most successful such programs in Europe) has led to the creation of a number of city center bike lanes and a cycling-friendly culture. Grab a bike from one of the many stations (locations at dublinbikes.ie; 5 euros for a three-day ticket after which every ride of 30 minutes or less is free) and cycle down the banks of the Liffey River, which slices through the city. Stop at one of Dublin’s famed bridges, each of which tells a story: the Ha’penny (the city’s first pedestrian bridge; payment to cross was once a halfpenny), the O’Connell (a part of Dublin life since 1794, said to be unique in Europe for being wider than it is long), and the newest, the Rosie Hackett (named for a trade union activist involved in the 1913 Lockout and the 1916 Easter Rising, and the first to be named after a woman since 1792).

7. Go for a Guinness | 3 p.m. ­

Craft beer may be the new thing, but a pint of “the black stuff” is still required drinking on any trip to Dublin. The enormous Guinness Storehouse museum (admission, 18 euros), set amid the cobbled streets and imposing buildings of the St. James’s Gate brewery, explains how the stout is made and gives the history of the company, along with a selection of the familiar “Guinness is good for you” advertisements. The best part of visiting the storehouse comes near the end, when an employee supervises visitors in pulling a proper pint of Guinness (it’s a strictly adhered-to method involving holding the glass at the correct 45-degree angle and waiting 119.5 seconds before topping it off). Take it up to the top floor Gravity Bar, where the 360-degree view of Dublin is worth lingering over.

8. Restaurant Renaissance | 7 p.m. ­

Forest Avenue is a new addition to Dublin’s booming culinary scene, and it might just have the most exciting food in the city. The owners, John and Sandy Wyer, opened this small, airy spot in November 2013, and it’s been getting rave reviews for its tasting menus. Dishes like a salad of Annagassan crab with smoked salmon and chilled zucchini, and beef carpaccio with smoked oyster mayonnaise, pickles and horseradish quietly impress with their flavor and innovation. Changes appear on the menu weekly, but with food at this high a standard, that’s just more reason to return. Dinner for two, about 120 euros.

9. Beyond ‘Trad’ Music | 9 p.m. ­

Live music is in Dublin’s blood, but just about the only Irish accents you’d hear in a city center pub advertising traditional music are either on the stage or behind the bar. Leave the renditions of “The Fields of Athenry” for the countryside and head instead to the Sugar Club, a central venue with an eclectic calendar of live music and a fun-loving vibe. Anything from indie-folk to soul to country music to hip-hop can be found most nights of the week, along with the occasional high-energy comedy, burlesque or cabaret night.

Sunday

10. ­Go North | 11 a.m.

The “north side” of Dublin (meaning north of the Liffey) has traditionally been more working class than the upscale south side. A stroll around offers glimpses into lives that haven’t changed much in half a century, from the hawkers selling fruit from baby carriages to the elderly ladies pulling their wheeled shopping bags behind them. Begin with a coffee and homemade pastry at Brother Hubbard, a bright and welcoming cafe on Capel Street then stroll down Henry Street, the north side’s main shopping precinct. At O’Connell Street, check out the towering silver Spire of Dublin, built for the millennium and nicknamed, in classic Dublin fashion, “the stiletto in the ghetto.” It’s just up the street from the General Post Office, an earlier incarnation of which was occupied by rebellion leaders during the 1916 Easter Rising. Whether the holes in its pillars are bullet holes from that historic conflict has been long debated, but even the suggestion is enough to stimulate the imagination.

11. ­Gaelic Games | 3:30 p.m.

There are a few “Gaelic games” unique to Ireland, and two of them are played at Croke Park, Dublin’s 82,300-capacity stadium. Gaelic football, which has the highest attendance of any sport in Ireland, is played with a ball similar to a soccer ball that can be picked up as well as kicked, while hurling, possibly the fastest field sport in the world, uses wooden sticks called hurleys and a small leather ball that can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour. The atmosphere at a Sunday afternoon match — matches are played March through September; admission 10 to 15 euros (standing and seated) — spent cheering on teams from all over Ireland in the company of their passionate fans, is unbeatable.

LODGING

The Marker (Grand Canal Square, Docklands) is Dublin’s hottest new hotel, drawing trendsetters to its rooftop bar and tourists to its comfy, colorful, modern rooms. It’s part of the Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Square in Dublin’s new tech hub.

The Marker Rooftop

Dating back to 1824, the Shelbourne (27 St. Stephen’s Green) is an elegant historic hotel overlooking St. Stephen’s Green. Its Horseshoe Bar is a Dublin landmark; anyone who’s ever been anyone in Ireland has stopped here for a drink.

 

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Northern Ireland TV and Film Locations

Northern Ireland has long been an inspiration for local writers and playwrights such as C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) and Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack).

 

More recently, it has also been the go-to location for film and TV executives looking for the ideal location for the new productions.

Northern Ireland Film Locations

Northern Ireland offers an unrivalled variety of landscape and setting, all within a compact and easily accessible area – hence its popularity with film-makers and crews.

Game of Thrones (2011 – Present) – An epic fantasy television series created for HBO. This production is an adaptation of George R R Martin’s series of fantasy novels, and is filmed at the Paint Hall Film Studios in Belfast as well as a number of locations around Northern Ireland including Ballintoy Harbour, Tollymore Forest Park and Castle Ward Estate.

 

Keith Lemon – The Film (2012) – Comedy starring Celebrity Juice host and comedian Keith Lemon and Kelly Brook, Keith Lemon The Film is filmed in various Belfast locations including Linenhall Street, Titanic Drawing Offices, House of Fraser (Victoria Square), The Waterfront Hall, W5 at Odyssey, The Merchant Hotel, Bedford Street, Linen House Hostel, Old Northern Bank on Waring Street, Café Vaudeville, Donegall Square North.

 

The Fall (2013 – Present) – A BBC2 thriller currently in production in Belfast, stars former ‘X Files’ actress Gillian Anderson, as well as Irish actors Jamie Dornan, who will feature as Christian Grey in the upcoming movie and Gerard McCarthy of Hollyoaks fame. The psychological thriller follows a serial killer who stalks his victims in and around the city of Belfast. The second series is due to air in November 2014.

 

Dani’s Castle (2013 – 2014) – This CBBC television production was filmed on location at historic Killyleagh Castle in County Down. Series 3 has been commissioned to be filmed in County Down in 2015.

 

Good Vibrations (2012) – This film is based on the story of Terri Hooley, who owned record store Good Vibrations, and championed the emerging Belfast punk scene in the 1970’s. Terri started a small record label, and is famous for discovering and launching famous Derry band The Undertones.

 

The Shore – Short Film (2012) – This Oscar winning film (best live action short) is the story of friendship and reconciliation starring Ciarán Hinds and Conleth Hill as childhood friends Joe and Paddy. The film has won Best Live Action Short Film at the 2012 Oscars. Written and directed by Belfast local Terry George, and produced by his daughter Oorlagh, the film was shot entirely in Killough, Co. Down.

 

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2012) – The BBC’s drama department’s modern-day take on the 1839 novel was filmed at various locations across Northern Ireland including Belfast City Hall, and Brownlow House. The production, supported by Northern Ireland Screen, features local names such as Adrian Dunbar, Bronagh Gallagher, Jayne Wisener and Andrew Simpson among its cast.

 

Blandings (2013 – 2014) – The series is based on author PG Wodehouse’s hilarious accounts of the life and times of Lord Emsworth of Blanding Castle. It was filmed at Crom Castle, Co. Fermanagh and stars well-known actors such as Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders, David Walliams and Mark Williams, just to name a few.

 

Privates (2012) – This BBC1 drama is the story of the last intake of conscripts for National Service in 1960; eight young men undertake basic training at a windswept camp in Yorkshire, as the end of the era of deference meets the world of rock n’ roll. The cast which includes Patrick Baladi (The Office; Mistresses) as Captain Gulliver: Marc Silcock (Hollyoaks, Emmerdale) as Corporal Jimmy Hobbs: and Jack Fox (Fresh Meat) as Private White-Bowne filmed on location in Northern Ireland at Ballykinler Army Base, Tyrella Beach and South Promenade, Newcastle.

 

The Wipers Times (2013) – Filmed on location at Ballywalter Park Estate, Co Down, Belfast City Hall and the Co. Down Railway Museum. Starring Ben Chaplin, Michael Pain and Emilia Fox amongst its cast members, the film tells the true story of how one man turned the horrors of war into a black comedy.

 

Miss Julie (2014) – Set on Midsummer’s Eve in 1890 in Crom Castle in County Fermanagh, Miss Julie details a battle of both sexes and classes, staring well-known actors Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain.

 

Dracula Untold (2014) – Vampire mythology combined with the true history of Prince Vlad tell the origin of Dracula starring Luke Evans. Filmed at many locations across Northern Ireland including: Tollymore Forest Park, Roe Valley Country Park, Mount Stewart House and Gardens, Giant’s Causeway, Divis Mountain and Scrabo Country Park. Find out more about Dracula Untold.

 

Shooting for Socrates (2014) – Starring local actors Conleth Hill, Bronagh Gallagher and Ciarán McMenamin, Shooting for Socrates depicts the story of Mexico 1986 when Northern Ireland met the mighty Brazil in the World Cup finals, filmed at Windsor Park, Belfast and around Belfast City.

 

Line of Duty (2014) – Series two was filmed entirely in Belfast, telling the story of police corruption.

 

City of Ember (2007) – A science fiction fantasy film filmed at the Paint Hall Film Studios in Belfast and Cavehill, starring Holywood actors Bill Murray and Tim Robbins.

 

Your Highness (2011) – A Universal Studios Picture comedy that was filmed on location in Northern Ireland. Starring Natalie Portman, the production was filmed in the Paint Hall Film Studios in Belfast and utilised many of Northern Ireland’s stunning locations to create their very own ‘Kingdom of Mourne’ including; Tollymore Forest Park, Castle Ward, Cairncastle, Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway.

 

Robert Overlords (2013) – Starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, Robert Overlords is a science fiction film where Earth has been conquered by Robots from a distant Galaxy. Survivors are confined to their houses and must wear electronic implants, risking incineration by Robot Sentries if they venture outside. Filming locations include: Belfast Met, Donaghadee, Greencastle Beach, Tollymore Forest Park and Carrickfergus Castle.

 

Philomena (2012) – Philomena is the true story of one mother’s search for her lost son. Starring Judy Dench and Steve Coogan with filming in various County Down locations including Bryansford, Killyleagh, Rostrevor and featuring the Mourne Mountains.

 

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Must-see sights in Scotland and Ireland according to the BBC

from: http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20130709-reader-qa-must-see-sights-in-scotland-and-ireland

Early July the BBC asked its Facebook Community to share recommendations on visiting Dublin & Edinburgh. Here is the result:

Ireland:

From Maya Rioux: “The Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour is the best way to easily knock out the must-see tourist destinations in Dublin. I agree with Bethamy though – just make a point to talk to as many Irish people as possible. Those conversations are hands down my best memories from Ireland.”

From John Fox: “Dublin: Make sure [to] pencil in a trip to Kilmainham Gaol.

From Siobhan Healy: “The Chester Beatty Library right near Dublin Castle is a gem and there is delicious Lebanese food at the restaurant. Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park are great for a ramble.”

From Nikki Johnston: “I’ve been living in Dublin for the past eight months. I definitely recommend taking a trip up or down the Dublin Bay coastline on the DART commuter train. It’s hard to beat the glorious scenery out on the bracing cliff walk around Howth Head (follow up with some tasty seafood on the pier) or the beautiful views heading the other way between Dalkey and Killiney. Stunning.”

From Jennifer Connors: “In Dublin go see the Book of Kells and Christ Church Cathedral. We had lunch at The Brazen Head (Ireland’s oldest pub) and the food was excellent.

From Joanne Taylor: “Try a little place called Kinsale near Cork, hire a car and you have some lovely places to visit.”

From Cathy Rogers: “As far as Dublin [goes], we did visit Trinity College for the illuminated manuscripts, there is a great additional one right around the corner with many more available to see.”

Scotland:

From Jennifer Connors:”In Edinburgh we did a three-hour trike tour of the Highlands of Scotland and it was awesome! It was beautiful and so much fun. I would also say to go see Rosslyn Chapel and Mary King’s Close. Eat haggis so you can say that you did and it’s actually pretty good.”
From Karen McQuade: “Edinburgh Castle, Mary King’s Close, Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, Falkirk Wheel are very close to Edinburgh, so much more to see but these I’ve seen and highly recommend.”

From Nikki Broady: “My grandson and I stayed in Pilrig House [in Edinburgh] and loved the peaceful park-like setting. We found Edina taxis to be courteous and timely. Our tour guide, Bill Hill, was a gem! Highly recommend his services. Lunch in The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter makes a nice memory.”

From Vic Roy Herbert: “In Edinburgh, climb Arthur’s Seat and enjoy the stunning views before heading to the Sheep Heid restaurant in Duddingston for a bite to eat.”

From Rebecca Bosma: “I love Edinburgh! Definitely be sure to do a ghost tour of the underground vaults.”

From Nazar Rathore: “Do visit Firth of Forth area outside Edinburgh to see beautiful bridge structures. [Visit] the Royal Mile area in the city and Edinburgh castle.”

From Patty Moss: “Don’t miss Glasgow. I liked it way better than Edinburgh.”

From Bethamy Bridgecam: “Besides the obvious destinations like the castle in Edinburgh and Trinity Church (and the Book of Kells etc) in Dublin, drop into pubs and relax. Talk to people. Enjoy.”