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The Emerald Isle And The Big Apple
In bringing Ahern's novel to the screen, the filmmakers shifted the primary setting of the story from Ireland to Manhattan, but it was still important to them to pay homage to the roots of both the book and its author. "I wanted to put Ireland in there in a big way,” LaGravenese states, "so the character of Gerry is still Irish, and I created the story that he and Holly first met in Ireland.”

At Gerry's behest, Holly also returns to Ireland to visit his family home and retrace the first steps of their relationship. Gerry somehow knew that revisiting the past was the best way to point Holly to a new future, and, LaGravenese smiles, "it gave me a reason to go back and shoot in Ireland, which is one of my favorite places on earth.”

Swank notes, "I think it is so important to see where they met and how their relationship began in this beautiful countryside—to see how young and hopeful they were and to get the carefree spirit that they had at the start. I think that's what Gerry was hoping she would find there again when he sends her back.”

Principal photography began on location in Ireland, where there was a great deal of interest in the production due largely to the fact that the book was immensely popular and its author happens to be the daughter of the Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern. Photographers and spectators were out in full force, but, regardless, everyone welcomed Ahern's presence on the set. Smith attests, "While we were in Ireland, we were so happy that she spent a lot of time with us. She is delightful—just the most charming, elegant, sweet girl you'd ever want to meet.”

The company spent two weeks in Ireland, filming mostly in Wicklow County, an area south of Dublin that is called "the garden of Ireland.” The Wicklow National Park is a protected area where no building is allowed, so it provided an unobstructed panorama of rolling hills. Locations in Wicklow County included a small farm in a town called Enniskerry and the little village of Ballylocken.

One of the most important locations in Ireland was Whelan's, the Irish pub where, in a flashback, we see Gerry serenading Holly. "The scene at Whelan's was a mixture of joy and pain,” Gerard Butler laughs. "I spent three weeks learning to play the guitar from scratch. I mean, I couldn't even hold it properly or strum it at first, and then trying to find the chords…I remember falling asleep on my feet one night in front of the mirror practicing the guitar. And suddenly I'm up in front of 150 people having to play a song like I'd been doing it for the longest time. But it was all so great in the end.”

Flashing forward, Whelan's is also the spot where Holly and her friends first meet William and then watch him perform on the very stage where Gerry had once sung to Holly. LaGravenese worked with his creative team to reflect the time change not only in the practical elements of sets and costumes, but in more subtle ways. Production designer Shepherd Frankel explains, "For the flashback scene, we made the space feel much warmer because it was a very romantic moment between Holly and Gerry. But when she comes back 10 years later, it needed to seem colder without him. Richard and the DP, Terry Stacey, and I talked about how to reinforce that through the design and the way it was lit.”

From Ireland, the production team traveled to New York, where much of the filming was accomplished at practical locations. A bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, became Patricia's pub. They also filmed at Brooklyn's Prospect Park near an airfield, where planes coming in over the trees often interrupted the filming of an important scene with Hilary Swank and Kathy Bates.

However, the noise of air traffic was minor compared to what the production faced while filming at the Irish Hunger Memorial, in lower Manhattan. The monument is located in t

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