Where The Banshees of Inisherin was filmed
Set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, The Banshees of Inisherin follows Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and Pádraic (Colin Farrell), best friends until April 1, 1923 when Colm decides he wants nothing to do with Pádraic any more. And that's fecking final, according to Colm. But Pádraic cannot accept the friendship breakup, instead embarking on an emotional and psychological spiral that has huge — and deadly — consequences for everyone on the remote island of Inisherin.
With its huge cliffs, verdant rolling hills, and ancient terraforming of stone walls and paths, Inisherin Island is as much a character in Banshees as Colm, Pádraic, and even Jenny the Miniature Donkey, as the shifting landscape often reflects the interpersonal turmoil that drives the story. But you'd be surprised to learn that Inisherin isn't a real place, it's actually a composite of several locations around Ireland. So, in light of the film's whopping nine Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and all four acting categories), let's explore the sights and sites.
Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Ireland
Either a 40- or 90-minute ferry ride from the Irish mainland is Inis Mór, the biggest of the Aran Islands. This is an important place with regards to Irish and Celtic history and folklore, also featuring many ancient Christian relics that dot the luscious — but famously craggy — landscape.
The stone hut where Pádraic and his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) live was built from scratch for the film in the port town of Gort Na gCapall, as director Martin McDonagh wanted sea views from their window. Because this island is an Irish heritage site, the production crew not only had to ship in all their building materials by boat, but if they moved any of the prehistoric stones that crosshatch the island, they needed to be numbered and placed in the exact same spot afterward.
The prehistoric ruins of Dun Aonghasa, where Pádraic and his new drinking buddy/town simpleton Dominic (Barry Keoghan) sit on the ledges and imbibe illicit locally-made moonshine liquor, is another major Irish heritage site accessible by hiking the island hills.
Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland
Achill Island is roughly 93 miles north of Inis Mór, but connected by bridge to the Irish mainland near Galway, and is the location McDonagh selected for Colm's solitary whaler's cabin in a small bay inlet. Achill Island is part of one of the world's longest coastal routes from Derry to Cork, and in Banshees serves to highlight Colm's detachment not just from the rest of the Inisherin community, but his eventual break with Pádraic to boot. It also serves as a point of annoyance that Colm has elected this particular spot far from everyone, and Pádraic continues going out of his way to invade the space.
In a particularly poignant moment toward the end of The Banshees of Inisherin, Siobhan stands in her iconic red coat overlooking a gothic lake as black-clad and creepy Mrs. McCormack (Sheila Flitton) watches her from across the way. As Siobhán contemplates leaving her decompensating brother for a mainland library job, young Dominic interrupts to ask if she wants to go steady. These beautifully sculpted scenes were filmed at Lough (Lake) Acorrymore, a spot that visitors often say has its own particular lost-in-time enchantment, even as it's easy to access either by walking or car.
In an interview with The Walt Disney Company Magazine about the locations, Brendan Gleeson said, "It's been informative, in terms of the broadness of Irish life, because the two locations are very different. Achill has massive mountains; Inishmore has no trees. Yet they have an intimacy about them that's very real. It was a dream to be able to come to these places." Further, The Daily Beast reported McDonagh noting, "Colin is marked in one type of terrain, Brendan's in another." Watching the film and its breathtaking scenery with these details in mind adds new layers to an already nuanced tale of friendship gone ever so wrong.
Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland
As the various characters in The Banshees of Inisherin contemplate the quietly escalating consequences of Colm and Pádraic's rupture, they are often seen walking along a beautiful beach with flashes from the mainland war seen or heard in the distance. These moments represent the metaphor of brother against brother not just in the Irish Civil War, but also in this civil conflict between two former friends.
Keem Beach itself has been named one of the best beaches in Europe, and it's easy to see why: the view is spectacular, the sand is soft, and the water is crystal clear. It's also remote and quiet for the beach-goer desiring a hefty dose of solitude with their ocean dipping.
Also near Keem Beach, the quaint J.J. Devine's Pub — overlooking a huge bluff of the Cloughmore coast with the Irish mainland in the distance — was actually built specifically for Banshees because of the view. But, sadly, it was torn down immediately after filming due to potential safety hazards, being so close to the cliff's edge and all…
Gossipy Mrs. O'Riordan's (Bríd Ní Neachtain) general store was another set built for the film, and the bustling marina was zhuzhed at the same time to display what it might have been like in 1923 before advancements like gasoline-powered boats would have changed the nature of these areas.
Of the decision to use two disparate locations in creating Inisherin, McDonagh said in the film's production notes accessed by Town and Country, "Inisherin is a fictional island, so I didn't want it to be specifically one place. I wanted it to be more mythical." And in a fairytale move for method acting, Farrell also admitted to going on his daily jogs around both island filming locations and connecting to his overly nice (if a bit "dull") character Pádraic by greeting every single animal he saw along the way. In the months since The Banshees of Inisherin wrapped filming, Farrell's neon green jogging short-shorts have become the most recent hallmark of the landscape's memory, following all the actual Irish history contained on these lush islands.
Banshees of Inisherin cinematographer: 'Let's make it a John Ford Western'
Colin Farrell was kicked by a donkey and bitten by a dog while filming The Banshees of Inisherin