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Harry Potter in Ireland – All you need to know

When you think of Ireland Harry Potter might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. So, if you wonder where was Harry Potter filmed in Ireland or you just look for Harry Potter things to do in Ireland then this post will have you covered with all the information that you need.

Are there Harry Potter Ireland filming locations?

Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland
This location is maybe one of the most famous Harry Potter locations, but it is not in Ireland: The Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland.

Yes, you bet! There are two Harry Potter filming locations in Ireland which where mixed together via CGI so that it looks like one location. They were used for the backdrop of a very crucial scene in “Harry Potter and the Half – Blood Prince”. Additionally, in terms of cinematography, how the music, lighting and camera angles build up to a dramatic crescendo, it is one of the best scenes in all of the Harry Potter films. Curious which scene in the Harry Potter movies it might be and where exactly it was filmed and why? Then keep on reading…

So where was Harry Potter filmed in Ireland?

The magical Cliffs of Moher during a starry night are truly beautiful.

There are two Harry Potter filming locations in Ireland – The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and Lemon Rock in County Kerry:

1) The Cliffs of Moher on the West Coast of Ireland. When you see the Cliffs of Moher Harry Potter might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. These sea cliffs in County Clare on the Wild Atlantic Way are among the most stunning cliffs in the world rising about 120 m (700 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean. They are one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions (about 1,5 million tourists travel here to enjoy this breath-taking view every year!).

If you visit them, you will surely be amazed. Seeing the cliffs in real life is a treat! Particularly on clear days, you can take a walk along them and are able to see the Aran Islands and mountain ranges such as the Maumturks and the Twelve Pins in County Galway and Loop Head in County Clare. But even if you visit the Cliffs of Moher on a cloudy or rainy day (the best views are of you walk along the cliffs from Doolin or Doonagore), it is quite a sight, as the crashing Atlantic waves and the sheer magnitude of these cliffs take your breath away!

And if it is really lashing rain, you can always head to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience. This is a visitor centre that will tell why the Cliffs are so important in terms of flora, fauna, geology and history.

2) The other location is Lemon Rock in County Kerry on the Iveragh peninsula. This is the third island of the Skelligs and is sometimes forgotten next to the more famous Little Skellig and Skellig Michael (now famously known as the refuge of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars). It is a rock about 20 meters (65 feet) above sea level and forms a perfect straight line with the other two bigger rocks.

Which Harry Potter scene was filmed at the Cliffs of Moher & Lemon Rock?

Skellig Michael, Little Skellig and Lemon Rock, County Kerry, Ireland
Lemon Rock is the tiny rock on the right next to the famous Skellig Michael and Little Skellig.

It is the scene in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (the sixth movie in the Harry Potter franchise) in which Harry and Dumbledore venture to a cave in order to destroy a horcrux. It is a scene of epic dimension, in which Harry realises that there is no turning back from extreme danger and even death. 

When Dumbledore tells Harry that “the place to which we journey tonight is extremely dangerous” and that “you must obey every command I give you without question,” we know that it is getting serious. Dumbledore continues: “Should I tell you to hide, you hide. Should I tell you to run, you run. Should I tell you to abandon me and save yourself, you must do so. Your word, Harry.” Absolute goosebumps material! 

The way it builds up is fantastically shot. After these words, Harry takes Dumbledore’s arm and the apparate from Hogwarts. Via a fantastic long shot, the camera semi-circles around Harry and Dumbledore, who are perched on the top of a little rock (Lemon Rock in Kerry) that looks onto the majestic Cliffs of Moher from almost sea level height. Dramatic music, the clashing of raging, frothy Atlantic waves and a gloomy light make this scene truly spectacular. Next we see Dumbledore focussing onto what appears to be a huge cave in the towering cliffs. 

The scene cuts abruptly and we find ourselves with Harry and Dumbledore in the cave and listen with awe to Dumbledore’s words of wisdom, “This is the place. Oh, yes. This place has known magic.” And magic it is, for sure. At least when you know that the film has achieved what nobody has achieved before: to translocate a little Kerry rock and place it in front of the Cliffs of Moher.

How was the Cliffs of Moher Harry Potter scene shot?

If you wonder how this scene was shot: Of course Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon filmed their part in a London studio and were put onto the rock via CGI. Most of the filming was done from boat and from helicopter (remember, this was filmed in September 2007, way before filming drones became popular…). The filming of the scene took about a week.

Why is this Harry Potter Cliffs of Moher scene so special?

Next to the spectacular cinematography, which makes it one of the best Harry Potter scenes, and the fact that the scene is pretty important for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, this is the only scene that was filmed outside the United Kingdom. So when it comes to Harry Potter filming locations Ireland is the only country outside the UK that can boast a scene! I bet you didn’t know that! 

Maybe this just highlights the magnitude of the Cliffs of Moher. Katherine Webster, Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience believes that the Cliffs of Moher were chosen for the movie, because “what sets the cliffs apart from many of the others is how sheer they are” (See this website for more info). The filmmakers wanted something absolutely grand, something that would leave viewers in awe. The Cliffs of Moher are the perfect place for this! If you watch the movie, you get a feeling for the grandeur of one of the most stunning cliffs in the world!

Are there any other Irish connections in Harry Potter?

Nils and Michael Gambon
Nils (yes, I had a beard once) and Dumbledore actor Michael Gambon (without his Dumbledore beard for once) at Trinity College Dublin a few years ago.

Yes, absolutely! The entire Harry Potter world is riddled with Irish connections.

Irish actors: There are many Irish actors, who play crucial roles. Alphabetically, just to name a few: Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, Michelle Fairley as Mrs. Granger, Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in the last six movies, Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, his son Domhnall Gleeson as Bill Weasley, Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore (in the first film and the second film), Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, Devon Murray as Seamus Finnigan and Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley.

Quidditch: If you believe it or not, Ireland is very successful in the Quidditch world and even won the 422nd Quidditch World Cup against Bulgaria in 1994. As the other teams from the British Isles (England, Scotland and Wales) had already been knocked out in the tournament, the Hogwarts boys cheered for the Irish Quidditch team. By the way, the mascots of the Irish team are leprechauns. The team Ballycastle Bats from Northern Ireland are the second most successful team in the Quidditch League of Britain and Ireland.

Irish magical creatures: There are loads of Irish creatures in the books, many of which can also be found in Irish mythology. Just to name two: a Banshee, which is a female spirit who wails in a most uncanny way and thus heralds the death of a family member and leprechauns, which are little fairy creatures (often men), which take part in mischief.

Are there any other Harry Potter locations in Ireland?

old map of Ireland and Great Britain
There is undoubtedly magic in Ireland!

Yes! There is lots of Harry Potter stuff going on in Ireland. There is for example a Harry Potter Dublin connection! In fact, hardcore Harry Potter fans will be delighted to hear that there is not only a annual massive Harry Potter Convention, the Dublin Wizard Con (for news and tickets visit their website).

The capital also has its very own Harry Potter themed bar: The Cauldron Dublin should be on the list for all Harry Potter fans (over the age of 18 years). This new pop-up cocktail bar is located at The Liquor Rooms beneath The Clarence Hotel. Here you can take part in a magical experience to brew drinkable potions with a magic wand. So if you have some time to spare (the interactive workstation that includes a welcome drink takes about 2 hours), why don’t you check out this fun and immersive Harry Potter Dublin bar.

By the way, if you are looking for more unusual sites in Dublin, check out our post.

There is also a Harry Potter Northern Ireland connection: The Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliff recently explored his Northern Irish Heritage (his father for example grew up in Banbridge in County Down) on BBC’s programme Who Do You Think You Are?

Additionally, there is also a little gem for Harry Potter fans in Belfast city. Similar to The Cauldron in Dublin, there is an immersive themed Harry Potter bar: The Cursed Goblet in The Parlour Bar on Elmwood Avenue. Here visitors can be apprentices to Professor Phileas Fisherwick who has gathered all kinds of magical ingredients for his potions by travelling by train all around Ireland. However, he has been cursed and needs help now to break the spell by coming up with the right potion. This is a festival for the senses and a lot of fun.

There is even more magic in Ireland, maybe more than you think. Keith from The Irish Road Trip came up with a great list of places that are Harry Potter-esk: a castle that could be Gryffindor Tower, a prison that could be Azkaban and so on. Check out his cool post here.