A sleepy Irish seaside town that stars in Netflix’s Bodkin

Arriving in the rural village of Union Hall in West Cork on an unseasonably wet and windy Saturday morning in May is a dramatic surprise.

This picturesque fishing village is accessed via the single track Poulgorm bridge. Dating back to the 1890s, the narrow bridge is only one lane wide, so as I pass, a car is waiting its turn on the other side.

Don’t hesitate at all, then, and take a picture of the wonderful views, where there is a large stretch of water on either side of me, covered by the rugged cliffs and the greenery that this part of Ireland is famous for. Ideally situated on the southwestern edge of the doll-shaped country, Union Hall is bounded by untamed wild and coastal beauty.

I followed the short, treacherous drive from the bridge, curving along the shore under a verdant canopy towards the bay of Union Hall. With fishing boats barking and pastel-hued houses it was not unlike the scene of Mevagissey in Cornwall, I think, but greener, and with fewer people milling around.

Will Forte, Siobhan Cullen and Robyn Cara

Bodkin stars Will Forte, Siobhan Cullen and Robyn Cara – Television Stills

The historic bridge was the backdrop for the 1994 film War of the Buttonsand has recently appeared in a new Netflix series, Bodkina darkly comic thriller executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, about a quirky crew of podcasters who try to investigate the mysterious disappearance of three strangers in a small Irish coastal town.

Although Bodkin is a fictional town, it is based on a place such as Union Hall, where one of the show’s writers, Alex Metcalf, spent summers as a teenager – and where most of the coastal scenes take place.

Bodkin It has received mixed reviews in the Irish press, with many viewers enjoying the satire of true crime podcasts and swashbuckling versions, while others are encouraged by its portrayal of Irish life. The Irish Times called it “the worst genre ever – the rural Irish picaresque where booze flows, nuns scream and everyone sings the characters”.

This clichéd portrayal of Irish life on screen has been criticized – where lyrical folk roam the hills and cattle lanes, spend half their lives in the pub drinking Guinness and singing ballads or telling stories yarn – good. But is Union Hall really like this? What can you expect from a visit?

The tiny village has a handful of bed and breakfasts, making it a happy base from which to explore all that West Cork has to offer; from the remote beaches and offshore whale watching tours to hiking and cycling around the rugged coastline.

Strolling through Union Hall, the sound of water lapping against the hulls of boats and the sight of local fishermen loading their catch evoked a sense of peace that only comes from being by the coast.

I wandered around the chocolate box village, which has a population of just 270. Union Hall is no stranger to tourists in the summer but was blissfully quiet when I visited in May. There was a cafe, a pub, a convenience store, a fish and chip shop and a small restaurant. Basically, everything you could need during a quiet weekend getaway.

Despite the bad weather – Ireland is famous for its wet, windy nature – it’s undeniably a very nice place. The small black-and-white street signs (with directions in both Irish and English) looked photogenic against the background of the village.

Filming Bodkin's Halloween sceneFilming Bodkin's Halloween scene

Union Hall made the perfect backdrop for Bodkin’s Halloween scene – Alamy

The first stop on my tour was Dinty’s bar, where there were writers Bodkin time spent I wanted to take advantage of the coastal location and sample some freshly caught seafood with a Guinness. I enjoyed a brimming bowl of chowder with a perfect pint in the cosy, fire-lit pub and had a pleasant chat with the couple who run the place about the surrealism of their high street being turned into a film set last year.

Although most of it Bodkin’s coastal scenes were filmed on Union Hall Main Street, the crew also crossed the bridge to the small village of Glenderry, which is only five minutes away. It is famous for the Drumbeag Stone Circle, which dates back to 153 BC. and 127 AD, perched high on the cliff top, the fishing village itself is postcard pretty along the Wild Atlantic Way as well as Union Hall.

Perched on a hilltop, the Glandore Inn has panoramic views over the harbor and features locally caught monkfish, monkfish and lobster on the menu. For a more active adventure (and on a drier day) you could walk the 30-minute scenic path between the villages, which goes around the bay, allowing you to see coral, oysters and sometimes seals.

Fishing boats in front of Poulgorm BridgeFishing boats in front of Poulgorm Bridge

Known for its fishing roots, you can access the village by driving across Poulgorm Bridge (seen here in the distance) – Alamy

If you are visiting for longer than a weekend, the lively town of Sciobairín is 11 minutes away and home to a busy Saturday morning market and lively pubs playing traditional Gaelic music in the evenings.

The other nearby filming location was slightly off the beaten track: Dromadoon Quay. 20 minutes away, I went in there on Sunday morning before coming home to catch a glimpse of the atmospheric seaside setting that created beautiful scenes in Bodkin.

It was a solo drive down a rough, winding single-track road, feeling like I was traveling to the edge of the world, which I somehow was – located on the southern edge of Ireland.

Arriving at the pier, there was an uninterrupted view of the ocean and a relaxing atmosphere, but due to its remoteness I would never travel here alone again. Although the beauty spot is more crowded in the summer months as a great place for boating and kayaking, I prefer to stick to the friendly, cozy environment of Union Hall.

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