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Wednesday April 17th 2024

The Banshees of Inisherin | 2022

The Banshees of Inisherin film location: Keem Bay, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland
The Banshees of Inisherin film location: the beachside cottage of Colm Doherty: Keem Bay, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland | Photograph: wikimedia / Par Andersson
The Banshees of Inisherin poster


Although the island of ‘Inisherin’ is fictitious, those bleak but ravishing landscapes are real, and you can experience them for yourself. Cinematographer Ben Davis talked of filming the piece like a John Ford Western.

If you watch carefully, you’ll see that ‘Inisherin’ has two distinct faces. In reality, the film’s location is a composite of two very different islands off the west coast of Ireland, each reflecting the personality of the two central characters.

One is Achill Island, craggy, rugged and unforgiving like Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson), the other is Inis Mór (Inishmore), flatter and more placid like Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell) whom Colm, after years of friendship, suddenly and catastrophically decides is boring.

Inis Mór is the largest of the Aran Islands (the name translates as ‘big island’), a major tourist destination in Galway Bay.

▶ Surprisingly, many of the convincingly solid old buildings seen in the film were built for the production – and dismantled afterwards – including Pádraic’s stone hut near the village of Gort na gCapall in the centre of Inis Mór.

The Banshees of Inisherin film location: Dún Aonghasa, Inis Mór, Republic of Ireland
The Banshees of Inisherin film location: Pádraic drinks moonshine with Dominic: Dún Aonghasa, Inis Mór, Republic of Ireland | Photograph: wikimedia / Sonse

▶ On the coast about a mile west stands the prehistoric hill fort at Dún Aonghasa, atop the 100-foot cliffs where where Pádraic drinks moonshine with the troubled Dominic (Barry Keoghan).

And Dominic’s cottage, where he lives with his abusive Dad, is a real cottage at Eoghanacht (Onaght)in the western end of Inis Mór.

Back in 1934, Inis Mór was the backdrop to Man Of Aran from Robert J Flaherty (director of Nanook of the North) controversial docu-drama, one of the first productions to provoke controversy by including staged sequences in what was presented as a documentary. The Man of Aran Cottage, supposedly built for the film, survived as a B&B until recently. It’s due to reopen as a self-catering holiday home.

Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed 1996 play, The Cripple of Inishmaan, was inspired by the making of the film.

Nowadays, Inis Mór is host to the annual Ted Fest celebration of the sublime Father Ted TV series (though this was filmed on Inishheer).

Aran Island Ferries runs a ferry service from Rossaveel port in Connemara, about 23 miles west of Galway City. Each of the Aran Islands has its own airstrip, so Aer Arann gives you the option of a flight from Connemara Regional Airport.

The island is around nine miles by two and a half, so you may need stout walking shoes and fair weather. There are minibus tours but if you want freedom to explore you could rent a bike or, for a bit of an adventure, try a pony and trap.

The Ionad Arann Heritage Centre is three minutes walk from Inis Mór's main village, Kilronan.

There’s a bit of irony in the fact that Father Ted is set on the fictitious ‘Craggy Island’, a description more apt for The Banshees of Inisherin’s other location, Achill Island, largest of the Irish Islands some 90 miles to the north of the Arans.

▶ This is the realm of the temperamentally creative Colm and his musical ambitions.

Colm’s cottage is a real (private) home at Keem Bay, which is often claimed to be Ireland’s best beach, in the far southwest of the island. As ever, please do not do anything to be intrusive.

▶ You won’t be able to sink a slow pint looking out to see from ‘Jonjo’s’ pub, where Pádraic sits patiently in hope of a reconciliation with his old drinking pal. This was yet another film-set, built on the Atlantic Drive at Cloghmore on the island’s southern tip.

But the pub now exists again, though not on Achill Island. The set has been dismantled, shipped to the mainland and reassembled as a real pub in Kilkerrin, a village in County Galway, on the R364 about four miles south of the town of Glenamaddy. It's Mee's Bar & JJ Devine's Pub, Main Street, Kilkerrin, Ballinasloe.

The Banshees of Inisherin film location: Purteen Harbour, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland
The Banshees of Inisherin film location: site of 'O'Riordan's' store and the fishermen's cottages: Purteen Harbour, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland | Photograph: Google Maps

▶ North of Keem, Lough Acorrymore (Corrymore Lake) is the site of Mrs McCormick’s (Sheila Flitton) cottage, and it’s by the lake that the naïve Dominic awkwardly asks Pádraic's sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) if she’d like to go steady.

▶ ‘O’Riordan’s’ store was built, along with the façade of a row of cottages, at Purteen Harbour, east of Keem. There really isn't very much there apart from the dock.

The Banshees of Inisherin film location: St Thomas Church, Doogort, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland
The Banshees of Inisherin film location: the church: St Thomas Church, Doogort, Achill Island, Republic of Ireland | Photograph: wikimedia / MickReynolds

▶ The church where Colm makes his, kind of, confession is the 1852 St Thomas’s Church in Doogort (or Dugort) on the island’s north shore. Be aware that this is a working church.

Surprisingly, if you're driving Achill is accessible by the Michael Davitt Bridge on the N59, four hours from Dublin or 75 minutes from Ireland West Airport Knock. There’s also a rail link from Dublin.

Without a car, you can again rent a bike, use a taxi or try the seasonal bus service, Bus Éireann.

Find more location details at letsgoireland.com or enjoy-irish-culture.com.