In 1973 Stanley Kubrick – fresh off his success as director of a series of classic films such as Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey – came to Ireland to shoot William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon.
The book tells the story of an Irish lad without prospects somehow making his way among the 18th-century European nobility. Barry Lyndon was played by 1970s movie heartthrob Ryan O’Neal, and despite the film receiving mixed reviews and being ignored at the box office, it went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the 1976 Academy Awards in what must be one of the most formidable five ever selected in a given year – the others being One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jaws, Nashville, and Dog Day Afternoon.
Kubrick spent almost a year touring the great houses and castles of south-eastern Ireland during pre-production on Barry Lyndon. They shot in Bray’s Ardmore Studios, Waterford, Thomastown, Carrick-on-Suir, Ballynatray, and Dublin Castle, but perhaps the most well-known shooting location is that of Powerscourt House.
Powerscourt House was originally a 13th-century castle, but it was redesigned during the 18th century by the German architect Richard Cassels. However, just months after Barry Lyndon was shot, in 1974, fire destroyed the house. The grand home was left lying as a shell until it was renovated in 1996, and since then Lonely Planet has voted Powerscourt in the Top Ten Houses in the World while in 2014, National Geographic listed Powerscourt as No. 3 in the World’s Top Ten Gardens.
For anyone who wants to experience an area that was so sumptuously documented by one of the greatest directors of them all, a visit to Powerscourt while in Ireland is essential.
For more information visit the Powerscourt website.