How new Hollywood blockbuster is benefiting Mayo and Achill tourism – Connaught Telegraph

The Banshees of Inisherin shines positive light on a beautiful county
by Joanne Grehan
As a county we are thrilled that the iconic coastline of Achill island is showcased in the film “The Banshees of Inisherin”, the latest film production from Academy and BAFTA-winning director Martin McDonagh, staring well known renowned international actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleason.
The Mayo premiere of the movie, staged last night at Mayo Movie World in Castlebar, was a celebration of the fact that such a high value production with huge A-lister stars saw the magic and the potential and came to our county.
Back in the early 2000s when I was lecturing at Dublin Institute of Technology, a colleague of mine, Dr. Noelle O’Connor, did her PhD on Film Induced Tourism and Destination Branding (Ballykissangel) and has gone on to undertake further research in this area and time and time again she has shown that essentially the correlation is very impressive.
Where you have film activity and especially where you have internationally renowned film activity coupled with international exposure visitors will flock and the contribution to the local economy is considerable.
It was with this in mind that Film Mayo – an initiative of Mayo County Development Board, Mayo County Council’s Arts Office and our Community & Integrated Development Department – was established in 2014 to promote filmmaking our beautiful county.
Since then, we have developed and we have seen an increase in film activity in Mayo and we are particularly delighted to see crews returning to film on a number of occasions.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Film Mayo offers support, advice and networking for anyone interested in making a film in the county and platforms and supports an informal network of local industry professionals.
Some of our local talent have gone on to do amazing things and to great acclaim and, in doing so, making Mayo an attractive location for productions of all scales.
With regard to The Banshees of Inisherin, Film Mayo and Mayo County Council worked closely with the team at Achill Tourism and Eoin Holohan, locations manager on The Banshees of Inisherin, with conversations starting back in March 2020.
The film crew shot on Achill for nearly a month, 26 days to be exact.
Allowing for the construction preparation and shooting crew, there were approximately 200 crew working in Achill, and up to 100 locals cast as extras.
In total an estimated almost €1.6m (€1,583,841) was spent in the region during filming, with crew living locally for the duration of the shoot.
Martin McDonagh visited Achill on a couple of occasions before deciding on it as a location for the film.
The final settings, most of which featured in the UK Times earlier this week, are:
• Keem Beach.
• Lough Acorrymore.
• Purteen Pier – which had a set built to turn it into a 1920’s Island village and existing buildings were masked.
• St. Thomas’ Church, Dugort.
• Cloughmore viewing point, the dramatic setting for J.J. Devine’s Pub which was assembled at the location and about which Colin Farrell was wildly disappointed when he returned with his son a number of weeks after shooting on Achill to find it had disappeared.
•The road between Cloughmore and Ashleam.
There is no doubt in my mind that these locations will become hugely popular and will develop further into a tourist trail for Achill Island and indeed County Mayo.
You know they say it takes a village to raise a child. In this instance it took an island to produce a film.
Great credit, acknowledgement and many thanks must go to everyone at Achill Tourism and the Achill community, and to Councillor Paul McNamara who works tirelessly to ensure Achill is kept to the forefront of all minds in terms of community, economic and tourism development, supported by the West Mayo Municipal District elected members and the county’s Oireachtas members.
Sincere thanks to my colleagues at Mayo County Council who were instrumental in supporting the shoot and in particular the West Mayo Municipal District, namely Padraig Walsh, head of the district, and Gerry McDonnell, area engineer, and very especially my own team in Film Mayo and our wider arts department, represented at the premiere by Orlagh Heverin and Ann Marie McGing.
A special word of appreciation to Anna Connor, our wonderful Tourism Officer, who works very closely with Chris, Catherine and the team at Achill Tourism, and Eva and the team at Fáilte Ireland, to showcase Achill and Mayo in their most positive light.
A sincere thanks, too, to our media partners.
I can’t emphasise, and I know that my colleagues at Fáilte Ireland and our Tourism trade partners will agree with me when I say, how important it is to shine a positive light on this beautiful county.
We are a tiny place on the west coast of Ireland, on the periphery of Europe fighting for our share of visitor numbers to Ireland.
And while acknowledging that there is enormous global competition, Ireland has a compelling product.
And we see now, Tourism Ireland is using The Banshees of Inisherin as a key enabler to promote the west coast of Ireland and in particular Achill Island and to further position Ireland as one of the most beautiful places on earth by developing a series of video clips with the production company Searchlight Pictures which showcase our breathtaking landscape and in return will be promoted to international markets in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe.
And within this lies huge opportunity in terms of exposure – and all this very firmly endorsed by international renowned stars in the calibre of Martin McDonagh, Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan and so on.
Alongside this, I am thrilled that Achill is being recognised as a key destination with film makers and production companies as a premier site location and it has been hugely heartening to see the publicity the film is generating and the local, national and international media attention received in recent days.
There is no doubt that this potential Oscar-winning film will showcase the best of our magnificent “longest in Ireland” coastline..
Certainly, Martin McDonagh said it best when he said: “That was sort of what we wanted to capture in the film, the beauty of Ireland and the cinema of it. We just wanted to make one of the most beautiful Irish films we could possibly make…..” so much emotion in those words!
Wonderful too to hear Barry Keoghan mention “how good the people are……” such stellar praise and I feel very proud as a Mayo person to hear this.
I often speak of the 4 C’s: Community – that sense of belonging, Collaboration – the importance of working together and how by working together we can always achieve so much more, Communication – that art of giving voice and every voice being important – and Creativity – four pillars by which we all perhaps aspire to work to and, in my view, the production of this film epitomises this.
My sense is that this too is what gave rise to a 15-minute standing ovation for this film at the Venice Film Festival.
Massive congratulations to all involved.
(Joanne Grehan is director of services of economic development and community engagement at Mayo County Council).


Leave a Comment