Experience Ireland – just like the stars

Ballyfin Demesne, County Laois

Hollywood legends, music superstars and iconic couples: when it comes to star appeal, the island of Ireland is under the spotlight! Check out seven celebrity stays and find out how you can follow in their footsteps…

1. Kim and Kanye, County Laois

When it comes to extravagant stays in Ireland, Kim and Kanye found just the place for their honeymoon. Recently awarded the number two spot on Travel + Leisure's World's Top 100 Hotels list, Ballyfin Demesne is the epitome of luxury. Sitting at foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains in County Laois, you’re right at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. While you're here, explore the clifftop ruin of the Rock of Dunamase, traverse the house and grounds of Emo Court or take a short drive to Tullamore in County Offaly and enjoy a tour (and a tipple) at the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre.

2. Game of Thrones stars, Kelly’s Cellars, Belfast

Winter is coming for the last time and the cast of HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones® recently took a break from filming in Northern Ireland to enjoy a few drinks at Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast. The Mother of Dragons (Emilia Clarke) was joined by Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and a few others. With whitewashed walls, an open fire and a rustic feel akin to its long history, it could almost pass for a tavern from the TV show itself. Experience it for yourself and take in the infectious rhythm of a traditional music session, right at the heart of the bustling city of Belfast.

3. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, Ashford Castle, County Mayo

Back in 1952, film legend John Wayne shot The Quiet Man in the quaint village of Cong in County Mayo, and the rest, as they say, is history. The village retains so much of its charm, even 60 years later, and is home to The Quiet Man Museum, where you can experience Cong just as it was in the movie. Stay where the stars got their beauty sleep at the luxurious Ashford Castle – a five-star hotel that has welcomed the likes of John Lennon, Ronald Reagan and, of course, Wayne’s Irish co-star, Maureen O’Hara.

4. Michael Jackson, Grouse Lodge, County Westmeath

Not a lot of people know that the King of Pop fell in love with Ireland during his stay at Grouse Lodge in County Westmeath, at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East! In 2006, Michael Jackson and his children spent several months in this secluded Georgian estate. So secretive was the booking that owners Paddy and Claire only found out who was staying when Prince Michael Junior, Paris and Blanket, plus their dad – the one and only Michael Jackson – arrived on their doorstep. Happy to accommodate the Jacksons’ need for privacy, when locals were asked if he was staying in the area, the response was: “Yeah, and so’s Elvis.” Enjoy your own rural escape here, make some music at the recording studio and take in local sights like Belvedere House and the mystical Hill of Uisneach just a short drive away.

5. Sarah Jessica Parker, County Donegal

Sarah Jessica Parker and actor husband Matthew Broderick are more than a little fond of Ireland. So much so, the couple bought a holiday home in Kilcar, County Donegal. At the end of her most recent visit, Sarah Jessica decided to pen a heartfelt "Ode to Ireland" on Instagram, channelling her inner Carrie Bradshaw from the Sex and the City TV series. With breathtakingly beautiful sights like Slieve League, Malin Head and Glenveagh National Park on their doorstep, it's fair to say that inspiration comes easily along this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way!

6. Daniel Day-Lewis, County Wicklow

For acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Hollywood glamour, celebrity and million-dollar contracts contrast quite sharply with life amongst the rolling hills and heather-flecked mountains of Ireland’s County Wicklow. For decades, Day-Lewis has resided in a Georgian house outside the village of Annamoe, where the wild and secluded countryside suits his private lifestyle. Known as the “Garden of Ireland” it’s plain to see why the Oscar-winner calls this county home! Nearby beauty spots include the monastic marvel of Glendalough, Powerscourt House and Gardens and the Wicklow Mountains.

7. Charlie Chaplin, Waterville, County Kerry

Waterville was a favourite holiday spot of film star Charlie Chaplin, and the County Kerry village celebrates his memory every August with the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival. His favourite place to stay was the Butler Arms Hotel, where he received a warm welcome year after year. Together with his wife and children, the family enjoyed fishing, horse riding and swimming in beauty spots along this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way. And the locals loved him in return, so much so, they erected a bronze statue of the man himself! Follow in his footsteps with a tour of the stunning Ring of Kerry, while Star Wars fans may want to take a peek at Skellig Michael – a prime filming location in the last two films.

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