Eyes on Eire

Armani, Vogue, even Harry Potter. We take a look back at Ireland's leading lady status.

A few weeks ago we spied some intriguing news on Twitter when Mick O?Keefe tweeted a snap purportedly of a film crew on Dollymount strand shooting an advertisement for Armani. Swit swoo.

We love it when the world turns a discerning eye to little old Eire. We're shameless when it comes to pride about our beautiful country and our arrogance is totally justified when you considering the company Armani are keeping by choosing Ireland as their latest backdrop. The flawless Jessica Chastain spent some months here last year to shoot costume drama Miss Julie at Castle Coole in Co Fermanagh?and looks set to return to our island to star in an adaptation of Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture. Last Autumn our rugged landscape caught all the headlines when American Vogue decamped to Kerry to walk ?in the footsteps of Yeats and Maud Gonne? in a sixteen page shoot entitled ?Wild Irish Rose?. Annie Leibovitz captured supermodel Daria Werbowy, who lives in West Cork for part of the year with her boyfriend, and Girls actor Adam Driver stalking across the hauntingly beautiful landscape in Belstaff cable knits and showstopping Alberta Ferretti numbers. While you could accuse Vogue's Creative Director Grace Coddington of really working the Emerald Isle thing, the reaction to the images was almost entirely effusive. While the government boasts about our silicon republic in Grand Canal Dock, the Ireland people abroad fall in love with is that of rolling hills and deep lush valleys. The Quiet Man is a classic for a reason. (And if you're feeling in a political mood check out the campaign to save the cottage that features in the movie here.)

However this wasn't the first time the fashion bible decided to use our island as an effective clothes horse. In 1959 fashion photographer Eugene Vernier came to Ireland with models and luggage in tow. The treasure trove blog Brand New Retro uncovered the images that chart the crew in Desmond Castle in Co. Limerick, enjoying a seaside sojourn in Donegal and casting their gazes over the rocky Connemara and the Killarney Lakes.

As for movie locations, Ireland is starting to become an unparalleled choice for a lot of the big studios. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince included the Cliffs of Moher?in its opening scenes, while our coast and valleys stood in for France and Scotland in Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart respectively.


Bernard McMullan of Tourism Ireland spoke to us about how that organisation works with glossy magazines and movie companies to support them when they want to shoot here. After all, the importance of these ?independent voices? cannot be overstated and are ?always better than paid advertising?. After a high profile editorial like Vogue's, people want to know where those stunning places are. Game Of Thrones is especially creating this ripple effect and has now spawned tours to various corners of the fictional kingdom of Westeros across Northern Ireland. When Vanity Fair chose to celebrate the fourth series of arguably the worlds biggest television show they chose Ireland over Iceland and Croatia - two other locations where sizeable segments of the HBO hit series is shot - for the cover image. Annie Leibovitz again made the journey over to capture fantastical landscapes. Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in the show, also lended Ireland some more Hollywood edge when a stag party he was part of went viral. Instagrams of Paul Rudd and company partying and golfing all along the coast further convinced us that staycations are not just wallet-sensible, but actually really fun.

When the Jane Austen biopic Becoming Jane was scouting locations, the director Julian Jarrold decided to decamp here because the Hampshire where the writer had lived was too ?groomed and manicured? for the nineteenth century period drama. ?What we were able to find in Ireland was a sense of countryside that felt more unchanged. That was one of the things that I really wanted to get... a sense of the landscape in which Jane Austen grew up.? Higginsbrook House in Trim and Kilruddery in Bray featured throughout the movie. This summer sees Ireland becoming Jane Austen's England yet again with Love and Friendship, an adaptation of an oft-overlooked novella by the author, being filmed here. US director Whit Stilman will be in Ireland for the summer with the boho cabal of Sienna Miller and Chloe Sevigny taking on bonnets and empire lines in a mannered comedy-drama about what happens when Miller's Lady Susan gets caught up in an affair with a married man.

If that hasn't got you dusting off the autograph book it was announced this week that Tom Hiddleston has signed on to star in High Rise which will shoot in the North. Based on a JG Ballard novel, High Rise is supposedly about a tower block built at the beginning during Thatcher's England and depicts a dystopian society. A bit grim we can imagine. Still, head across the border on a picturesque Game of Thrones tour then nab yourself a selfie with Loki.

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

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