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Harry Potter and the Cliffs of Moher

“Being me has its privileges.” Dumbledore wasn’t joking. His job as headmaster of Hogwarts does come with benefits

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County Clare
County Clare
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One such perk Dumbledore enjoys is the enviable ability to “apparate” himself and Harry Potter to an unrivaled vantage point. This particular point is before a set of sea cliffs on the west coast of Ireland.

Harry is on the hunt for horcruxes. Huge black cliffs are sulking behind mist from a dark sea. Behind his glasses are a set of eyes so stunned you’d think he’d seen He Who Must Not Be Named. Harry’s life and Dumbledore’s life are on the line. As scenes go, as set pieces go, this is big – and only the epic will do.

But cliffs can be found on any island. They can even be imagined in CGI. So why Ireland? Why Clare? Why Moher?

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Sheer brilliance

Katherine Webster, director of the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre, has an idea: “What sets the cliffs apart from many of the others is how sheer they are. That, and those eight dramatic headlands rolling off into the distance.”

Film commissioner of the Irish Film Board Naoise Barry agrees. “Simply put, they're unique,” he says. “You won't get it anywhere else. When cliffs like that hit the big screen it just blows you away.”

They’re most definitely unique. In fact, the cliffs are so special that they form part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Book online for the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and you'll get the best rates, best times and guaranteed entry. Avoid the crowds and enjoy reduced rates if you visit before 11am or after 4pm.

From "action!" to awesome

Of course, it’s a long way from "take one" to the big screen. Blustery clifftops, crashing seas and a whip of Atlantic air in the face are awesome in real life. How can you be sure that it'll translate to the movie theatre?

Dave Davin is an Irish cameraman and producer and thinks he knows why the cliffs look so good on screen. “The Cliffs of Moher would offer the director of photography an astonishingly beautiful, full-scale real set. From above or below through the lens, the images are spectacular. No need for huge green or blue screen sound stages with the actors having to imagine a computer generated image fed to them via the director.”

Keeping it real

Wherein lies the secret: the Cliffs of Moher are real. We're talking nearly 13km of real length and 214m of real height. A place so real that it can be seen up close and in person, whenever we like.

Dumbledore isn’t the only one with privileges.