Priests, Princesses and Potters – The Celebrity of the Cliffs of Moher

Oscar Season is over for another year. Leo walked away a happy man (at last). And the world of movies and celebrity falls down the pecking order once again. However, with the movies “Stutterer” and “Room” Ireland was brought down the red carpet and onto the world stage. But not for the first time…Ireland has pedigree when it comes to attracting the eyes of the world. Especially in the movies!

Let me explain…We all know that the Wild Atlantic Way is earning huge praise internationally and that as the world’s longest (and most dramatic) coastal driving route it is again casting the spotlight in Ireland’s direction. Only last year we had E-Woks and intergalactic creatures drinking pints in Portmagee, County Kerry. The producers of Star Wars had chosen Skellig Michael as part of the set for the latest installment in the series. And they’re back! The news is that they have returned for filming again for the next movie on the Dingle Peninsula. And let us stay there for a moment, as Dingle’s most famous production was none other than “Ryan’s Daughter”. There are stories to beat the band down Dingle way about the goings-on of cast and crew during filming, but did you know that the Oscar-winning 1970 movie actually had its opening sequence filmed at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare?

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Not only that, but in the 2009 movie “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” a young wizard and the headmaster at Hogwart’s floated towards the Cliffs of Moher on a treacherously stormy night in search of Slytherin’s locket. (In fairness to Kerry folk, due to the advances in C.G.I. the rock that Harry and Dumbledore ‘sailed’ on was actually Lemon Rock, found just off the Iveragh Peninsula).

In 1992, the Cliffs of Moher were in high demand for film-makers as “Hear My Song”, the cringe-fest “Far and Away” (remember Tom Cruise’s terrible Irish accent?) and the beautiful “Into The West” were filmed there. “Into The West” has to go down as my personal favourite Cliffs of Moher Movie – who could forget Oisín and Tayto’s journey?

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Other movies to feature our national treasure are “The Yank” (2013), “Blind Pass” (2012), “The Mackintosh Man” (1973) and “The Guns of Navarone” (1961) featuring Hollywood icon Gregory Peck. The Cliffs of Insanity from family-classic “The Princess Bride” (1987) are scaled by our hero Westley to save Princess Buttercup. This scene has actually been referred to numerous times while on tour – especially with groups from the USA!

Irish people will certainly remember the Cliffs of Moher when they featured in 1990’s sitcom “Father Ted”. You might recall them as the hiding place for Fr. Jack’s booze and the home of the Holy Stone of Clonrichert!

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Switching to music, who wouldn’t want to feature the Cliffs of Moher as a backdrop given their awesome size and dramatic impact. Westlife shot the video “My Love” there, while Maroon 5’s “Runaway” is made bearable by a pretty cool video. But, I’d like to finish on a personal favourite of mine – a song that I love to listen to after a day by the sea. Ben Howard’s “Old Pine” is shot at the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding countryside. Click the link below and enjoy!

– Enda (March 2016)

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