Film Set Country – Ireland
Where To Stay
Beech Hill Country House, Derry
Just a stone’s throw from the Game of Thrones set in Northern Ireland, is this 18th century Georgian house in the Derry countryside. The house was once an army camp back in WWII and has a museum and woodland trails. It’s celebrity guests have included Bill and Hilary Clinton and Will Ferrell.
INFO: Beech Hill Country House, 32 Ardmore Rd, Derry, BT47 3QP, +44 28 7134 9279, www.beech-hill.com
Ballyfin Demesne, Laois
Stop off in the middle of the country to visit this five-star mansion that’s set on 600 sprawling acres. When you’re not relaxing in one of the 15 lavish suites, get out into the fields to do archery or clay pigeon shooting, or climb up the ancient look-out tower. Get dressed for a Downton Abbey style banquet in the elaborate costume department.
INFO: Ballyfin Demesne, County Laois, +353 5787 55866, www.ballyfin.com
The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
This is one of Dublin’s most stylish five-star hotels, created from four old Georgian townhouses. Only a five minute walk from main shopping spot Grafton Street, it’s the ideal location. The hotel has 142 suites and is the place of choice for celebs when they’re in town, Tom Cruise stayed there the same night as Ahlan!. Don’t miss the Art Tea in the dining room.
INFO: The Merrion Hotel, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 1 603 0600, www.merrionhotel.com
The Merchant, Belfast
Once the head quarters of a bank, this hotel is a mixture of old Victorian grandeur and Art Deco. Ideally located in Belfast city centre, it has an opulent Great Room restaurant and a world famous jazz bar, Bert’s. After visiting the city’s Titanic museum, you can sit back and watch the classic movie in your luxurious suite has a handy DVD player.
INFO: 16 Skipper St Belfast, County Antrim BT1 2DZ, United Kingdom+44 28 9023 4888, www.themerchanthotel.com
Where To Shop
Grafton Street in Dublin city centre is Ireland’s answer to Fashion Avenue at Dubai Mall, while Henry Street, just across the River Liffey, is also a must-go for some serious retail therapy. While in the capital, you too can shop like an A-Lister in two of the main department stores, Brown Thomas and Arnotts which have partnered with Luxury Ireland’s Personal Shopping Experience. Celebrities regularly get their fashion fix at the stores and Harper Beckham even took her first steps in Brown Thomas while shopping with mum Victoria! Email your preferred brands, style, colours and size ahead of time and arrive to a dressing room filled with Irish and international designs customised just to your taste. You won’t have to worry about carrying bags, as your purchases get delivered to your hotel later in the evening. Amazing!
INFO: Book to shop like a star on www.luxuryireland.ie
Where To Visit
Go really rural and visit the remote Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. Easily reached by a short ferry journey from the mainland, the three islands Inis Oirr, Inis Meann and Inis Mor have retained all of the old charms and traditions of old Ireland, complete with horse-drawn carriages. The locals speak the Irish language, Gaelic, and the islands are packed with Bronze Age stone forts and monuments. Head into the local pubs for some craic with the locals!
Hippie hotspot Temple Bar in the centre of Dublin city is a hub of activity, with skaters, hipsters and tourists found wandering the cobbled streets. Dubbed the city’s bohemian quarter, the area is packed with pubs, restaurants, craft shops and boutiques and even made an appearance in Amy Adams’ movie Leap Year. Make sure you pop into the Temple Bar Pub for some amazing traditional food and music!
Head north to County Antrim to visit the Giant’s Causeway, one of the oldest wonders of the world. 60 million years ago lava cooled to form thousands of hexagonal basalt columns, though the locals say that a giant called Finn McCool actually built it as a pathway to cross to Scotland. An ultra modern tourist centre opened there last year, so you can learn everything about the cliffside wonder. Don’t forget to make a wish on the wishing chair!
Cliffs of Moher
Be one of the one million yearly visitors to the towering cliffs in County Clare, the tallest point in Ireland and tallest cliffs in Europe. Stretching eight km along the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs are Ireland’s top tourist attraction and an absolute must-see, just don’t go too near to the edge!
BEFORE YOU GO, YOU SHOULD KNOW...
Getting there: Flight time to Dublin Airport is about eight hours from the UAE.
Visa: Citizens of most countries don’t need to get a visa to visit Ireland, but check if you need to get one from www.inis.gov.ie
Currency: Euro is the money used and is written with the symbol € 1 euro is equal to Dhs5.
Getting around: In Dublin the main way to get around is by Dublin Bus, which is cheap and can take you all over the city. To travel around Ireland, you can use the national bus service, Bus Eireann, or go by train on Irish Rail. In Northern Ireland use the Translink service.
Walk The Film Set
Mel Gibson’s historical blockbuster is set in Scotland, but most of the movie’s epic battle scenes were filmed in Ireland. The famous scene of the Battle of Stirling Bridge was filmed on the flat Curragh Plains in County Kildare over six weeks, while Trim Castle in Meath was used as the home of King John.
Game of Thrones
Northern Ireland is home to this medieval series that is HBO’s most popular show ever, surpassing even SATC and The Sopranos. Production of the first three seasons was based in the Titanic Studios in Belfast and across the rest of the northern countryside. Filming for season four will return to Ireland and a Game of Thrones tour bus is in the works!
P.S. I Love You
Hilary Swank played an American widow who travels to Ireland after her husband – played by hottie Gerard Butler - dies in this tear-jerker. County Wicklow’s green hills make an appearance, as does one of Dublin’s main music hotspots, Whelan’s on Wexford Street.