National Geographic Traveller (UK)
ON LOCATION WITH THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Lavished with awards, the director Martin McDonagh’s latest creation has introduced a new generation of filmgoers to the rugged beauty of coastal Ireland. Words: Matthew Figg
Ireland’s rugged west coast takes centre stage in The Banshees of Inisherin, a tragicomedy set in 1923 during the final months of the Irish Civil War. Created by director Martin McDonagh
(In Bruges; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), the film examines the crumbling relationship between humble dairy farmer Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and his best friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson). They live quiet lives on the fictional island of Inisherin, where the only hint of the world beyond are the distant explosions from the war on the mainland.
Filming centred on two weather-worn islands, whose extraordinarily tall cliffs and isolated bays have attracted tourists to Ireland’s west coast for generations.
Located on the western fringes of County Mayo, the island’s desolate landscape offers drama at every turn. At sea level, sheltered bays and sweeping sands abound across Achill’s 80 miles of shoreline. Achill offers an ideal seaside break, whether catching the waves at Keel Beach or paddling in the shallows off Camport Bay. The island’s twisting roads are perfect for cyclists, too, with Achill Bikes offering a year-round rentals.
The easiest way to reach Achill is by car, with the Michael Davitt Bridge connecting the island to the mainland. The drive from Dublin takes just under four hours, while Knock — the nearest airport — is 75 minutes down the road.
Sixty miles south of Achill as the crow flies is Inis Mór, the largest of the hauntingly bleak Aran Islands that stand at the mouth of Galway Bay. Most striking of its ancient monuments is Dún Aonghasa, a 3,000-year -old fort perched precariously at the top of a 300ft cliff on the island’s south coast.
Due to its remote location, the only way to reach Inis Mór is by ferry or plane. Aran Island Ferries offers regular sailings from Rossaveal, while The Doolin Ferry Company serves the island from Doolin. Flights to Inis Mór are provided by Aer Arann Islands and depart from Connemara Airport, a 40-minute drive from Galway.