Movie Tourism – County Cork, Ireland

Moby Dick, Ondine, The Nephew, and War of the Buttons are just a few of the many movies filmed in County Cork and other locations in Ireland. The Wind That Shakes The Barley, starring two brothers Cillian Murphy as Damien and Pádraic Delaney as Teddy, is a powerful story of social and political unrest and divided loyalties in the Irish civil war of the 20th century. The unusual title is based on the songs and poetry by Robert Joyce that symbolized the Irish Republican Army. Directed by Ken Loach, the film won an award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and received worldwide success at the box office. We will cover some of the towns in County Cork, the largest of Ireland’s counties where scenes were filmed in 2005, as well as tourist attractions nearby.

Cork City, the main seaport and second largest city, is often thought of as the real capital of Ireland. Music plays a huge part in Irish culture and you’ll find great entertainment here and throughout County Cork. In June and July, enjoy the Midsummer Festival of Dance, Music, and Theatre, chamber music at various locations in the city, and Cork Live at the Marquee, which has featured many famous stars including Lionel Richie, Tracy Chapman, and Lady Gaga. Visit in October to hear great jazz at hotels such as the Gresham Metropole and Moran’s Silver Springs, or drive about 15 miles south to the picturesque town of Kinsale for more music and the gourmet festival of culinary specialties.

A main attraction in Cork City is the 19th century Gaol, the scene of Damien’s execution and a wonderful example of Ireland’s most famous neo-classical sculptor, John Hogan. Wander through the same halls where prisoners in chains were led to their cells, now occupied by lifelike wax figures. Graffiti remains on the walls where the unfortunate scribbled and drew of their pain and sorrow. The audiovisual presentation adds to the eerie atmosphere as you listen to the history and social injustices of the times.

Hours: Open 7 days, Mar – Oct, 9:30am to 5pm, Nov – Feb, 10am to 4pm.

Tours available in 12 different languages, night & educational tours. Souvenir shop & picnic area. Handicap accessible.

Prices: Adults – $11, Students – $9.50, Children – $6.

Dining: Restaurants in Cork City offer a tempting variety of cuisine from regional to international dishes. Visit the English Market where you’ll find numerous stalls selling raw, cooked, and take-out food, or go upstairs to the Farmgate Cafe. Jackie’s on the way to Bandon features fresh fish and chips, and Amicus is a family-oriented place for good food and reasonable prices. Other establishments include Lal Quila and the Spice Route for Indian, Nakon Thai, and the Manor Room at the Hayfield Manor Hotel, known for its classic gourmet specialties.

About 20 miles from Cork City lies the small town of Bandon, the gateway to West Cork. Tourism has not yet overtaken Bandon, so this might be a good place to stay, while visiting other places of interest in the area. The music festival, held each year in June since 1996, features many well known groups and a variety of traditional Irish jigs, folk, and rock music. This is certainly one of the best of its kind in Ireland.

Scenes from the movie were also filmed at the delightful village of Timoleague, 8 miles south of Bandon, where the 13th century Franciscan monastery still stands on this inlet from the sea. While here, visit the Castle Gardens, a place for family gatherings and children’s play. History of these gardens on the Argideen River dates back to the Earl of Barry and generations of the Travers family from the early 1800’s to the 1900’s. The new house on the grounds was built in 1926 not far from the old Barry castle. Exotic plants and evergreens flourish from autumn to spring in the mild, humid climate of these informal gardens. Strolling through the terraced gardens, visitors will discover a lily pond, a 19th century walled garden, and a river garden, as well as greenhouses of fruits and vegetables. Free admission. Hours: Easter weekend, mid-May to mid-September. Travelers will find a number of restaurants and pubs in this charming town, a great place for outdoor activities including walking, sailing, golf, and fishing.

While exploring County Cork, you’ll recognize scenes from the movie in the quaint thatched roof farmhouses of Coolea, and the ambush in the mountains around the village of Balvourney, where tourists and locals visit St Gobnait’s Abbey and well. Among the other activities for tourists to enjoy is the 3-day Cobh People’s Regatta in August, a gala festival of music, fireworks, and a queen’s coronation. Located at the southern end of the Cork City railway line or about 13 miles from the city, Cobh is a seaport town on the Great Island in Cork Harbor, which is connected to the mainland by the Bevelly Bridge. Cobh has a long maritime and shipbuilding history as a departure point for Irish emigrants to America and the deportations of criminals to Australia. It was the last port for the ill-fated Titanic, a cemetery for bodies recovered from the Lusitania, and a film location for The Eclipse in 2009.

Just as Nellie Bly made it her objective in traveling the world alone in a record 72 days, a visit to County Cork would not be complete without taking time to kiss the Blarney Stone – Blarney Village is a short 5-mile drive northwest from Cork City. Whether Jeremiah the prophet, Cormac MacCarthy the Irish chieftain who built the castle over 600 years ago, or the Crusades actually brought the stone to Ireland, it remains a worldwide national landmark and a precious treasure. Since the stone is set within the castle walls below the parapets, visitors must lean backwards over the iron railing on the walkway to kiss the stone. Everyone from Sir Walter Scott, presidents, and world leaders to international celebrities and millions of tourists have followed the legend of never being at a loss for words by kissing the “stone of eloquence.”

Stroll through the castle grounds, stop at the Blarney House, built in 1847 overlooking the lake, and spend time in the Rock Close gardens. Venturing down the “wishing steps” to a magical place beneath the trees, it’s easy to imagine a fairyland where Druids and elves once dwelled.

Castle Hours: Mon-Sat: May & Sep, 9am-6:30pm; Jun-Jul-Aug, 9am to 7pm; Oct-Apr, 9am to sunset. Sun: 9am to 5:30pm (summer), 9am to sunset (winter)

Prices: Adults – $13.50, Students & Seniors – $11, Ages 8-14 – $3.50.

Note: More information on Blarney, the Blarney store, or ticket purchase online at

County Cork Accommodations: Hotels, numerous B&Bs, farmhouses, guesthouses, self-catering apartments, and budget friendly hostels. Highly recommended in Kinsale is the Danabel B&B, conveniently located about 20 minutes from Cork Airport and 30 minutes to the ferries. Tennis, golf, boat trips, beaches, restaurants, and shopping nearby.

Open year round except Christmas. Rates: $40-$61 (dbl room). Special for 7 nights, Oct to Mar, $285-$353.

Flights: Major airline carriers to and from Cork City Airport. Rental cars available.

Ferries: From Cork City to Swansea in Wales, France, and the UK.

Trains from Cork City to Dublin and good connections to many small towns throughout Ireland.

Ireland is a country of incredible beauty, an exciting panorama of rural landscapes, windswept coastlines, mountains, and forests. County Cork in the southwest corner is just one of many popular destinations in Ireland, but each promises travelers an unforgettable vacation experience.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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