In recent years Ireland has witnessed huge growth in the number of TV and film productions choosing it as their preferred location for filming. The Irish Government’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht revealed that film and television production has increased by almost 42% since the start of 2011, aided significantly by the increased number of international TV dramas being shot in Ireland.
In the last year, Penny Dreadful, Quirke and Vikings have booked up studio space in Ireland and increased production spending. The hit Irish drama Love/Hate continues to be filmed in Dublin while the comedy series Moone Boy, which star comedian Chris O’Dowd, is being filmed in County Roscommon and at Ardmore Studios in County Wicklow. However, the biggest production of them all to hit the Emerald Isle is the worldwide sensation Game of Thrones which is primarily filmed in the Northern Ireland.
The primary location for filming the first three series has been the Paint Hall Studios in Belfast. Exterior scenes have also been shot in Northern Ireland at various location throughout the region including Sandy Brae in the Mourne Mountains, Castle Ward, Saintfield Estates, Tollymore Forest , Cairncastle, Magheramorne quarry and at Shane’s Castle.
The variety of locations and landscapes is a key factor in attracting TV productions to Ireland. Conor Dennison, who was an Art Director on Penny Dreadful, also worked on the first series of Vikings, stated:
“That was shot in the Wicklow Mountains and the scenery around there is breathtaking and can easily stand in for the fjords in Scandinavia. The locations themselves are very adaptable, but the quality of visual effects has improved greatly, too,”
Andrew Lowe, who jointly runs Element Pictures, added:
“I would say to a certain extent there’s always a natural peak and trough in the industry, particularly in film, which can take a long time to put into development,”
“The likes of Gravity and Star Wars tend to take all the available shooting space in the UK studios, so if you’re looking for somewhere with enough space to do a long-running TV drama, Ireland is going to be top of the list,”
The benefit of all the new production work within Ireland has also had a significant boost in the Irish economy and tourism industry by creating more jobs for local people and tourists wishing to plan a vacation in Ireland can now find themselves within the location of their favourite movies.