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Colin Farrell (right) and Brendan Gleeson in a still from The Banshees of Inisherin. Oscar buzz surrounding the movie has led to a tourism boom for the remote islands on which it was filmed. Photo: 20th Century Studios

The Banshees of Inisherin Oscar buzz is driving tourism to remote islands off Ireland’s west coast where it was filmed – even Taylor Swift is intrigued

  • The Banshees of Inisherin, directed by Martin McDonagh, has won accolades including a best actor Golden Globe for Colin Farrell, and 9 Oscar nominations
  • Now Achill and Inis Mór, the Irish islands where the movie was filmed, are enjoying a surge in tourism, and even Taylor Swift wants to visit the film’s pub

Colin Farrell had many people to thank following his best actor win at the Golden Globes for The Banshees of Inisherin. He made a point of mentioning the locals of Achill Island and Inis Mór.

“We were just one big family,” the Irish actor said at the awards ceremony, held in Beverly Hills, California, last month, before also name-checking his animal co-star in the critically acclaimed dark comedy, Jenny the miniature donkey.

Two weeks later the movie, filmed on location on the two remote islands off Ireland’s west coast, picked up nine Oscar nominations.

“Of course we have fingers crossed for a win,” says Chris McCarthy, the manager of Achill Tourism.

“And we’ll take any one of the nine nominations. We’re not choosy,” he quips.

The film won the award for outstanding British film at Sunday’s Bafta awards, one of four prizes it picked up at the ceremony.
The coast of Achill Island, which lies off the west coast of Ireland. Photo: AFP

Between July and November 2021, Achill Island’s dramatic landscape of rugged cliffs, peat bogs and sandy beaches was transformed.

The island’s Purteen Harbour, usually a working fisherman’s wharf, became the location for a portside street scene with a 1920s shopfront.

And the pub where much of the film’s action takes place was built from scratch atop windswept cliffs on Achill’s southwest coast.

Colin Farrell (left) and Kerry Condon in a still from The Banshees of Inisherin. Photo: 20th Century Studios
Sheep walk past Purteen Harbour, one of the filming locations of The Banshees of Inisherin. Photo: AFP

McCarthy says the film’s director, Martin McDonagh, wanted the actors “to feel the atmosphere of the Atlantic” when they opened the door of the pub.

“They couldn’t create this in the studio,” McCarthy says, standing at the beauty spot as February winds whip sea spray onto the cliffs.

Filming was an economic boon for Achill, injecting €1.7 million (US$1.8 million) into the area, which is home to fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.

Filming the movie was an economic boon for sparsely populated Achill Island. AFP

Now it is looking to capitalise on a tourism bounce. Every time a clip from the film or an awards speech goes viral online, McCarthy and his team see a surge in bookings.

Mick Lynch, owner of Lynott’s Pub on Achill, explains over an evening pint that visitors have already begun inquiring about the film.

Among the souvenirs lining the pub’s walls are what Lynch calls the movie’s “infamous” shears, used by actor Brendan Gleeson’s character to chop off his own fingers.

Mick Lynch, owner of Lynott’s Pub on Achill. Photo: AFP

Lynch says his tiny pub – a dry-stone-wall structure with a thatched roof built as a jail in the 16th century – is a true-to-life version of the pub created for The Banshees of Inisherin.

“If these walls could talk, the stories they’d tell … this is the real thing,” he says.

During filming, it served as a watering hole for Gleeson and fellow actor Pat Shortt, who runs the on-screen pub.

The “infamous” shears used by actor Brendan Gleeson’s character in The Banshees of Inisherin to chop off his own fingers. Photo: AFP

American singer Taylor Swift, a fan of the film, has asked for the pub from the movie set to be rebuilt so that she can visit.

“We don’t need to,” Lynch says. “She can come here.”

Alan Gielty, manager of coach hire company Achill Coaches, has created a guided tour around the movie locations.

Alan Gielty, owner and manager of Achill Coaches. Photo: AFP

“For the last month an awful lot of people are travelling to the island just to see the sights of the movie,” he says.

“It’s already bringing in a lot of interest from outside and it’s going to be very, very busy.”

Madeline Condell, who was one of 120 extras in the film, says the island is in the grip of an Oscars buzz.

Sheep stand on a cliff near the Keem beach on Achill. The remote island has enjoyed a surge in tourism since The Banshees of Inisherin was released. Photo: AFP
Condell owns two donkeys that missed out on appearing alongside Jenny. She says there will be more than a few parties planned for the night of the March 12 awards.

“We almost feel like we deserve an Oscar as well because of the beauty of the area,” she says.

“It’s such a lovely place to visit and anyone that ever does visit always falls in love with the place.”