Cracking the Secret of Boyne Castle


In 1969, Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” television program aired a three-part movie starring Kurt Russell, Glenn Corbett and Patrick Dawson called The Secret of Boyne Castle (UK: Guns in the Heather). Though the film is not commercially available, we were able to get a recording when it played on the Disney channel many years ago. The screenwriting is sometimes cheesy, and certain plot points are laughable, but it has always been one of my favorites. I think it’s because it takes place in Ireland.

Filmed partly on location, Secret of Boyne Castle follows two students, Richard and Sean, who find themselves mixed up with a spy ring from behind the Iron Curtain. Adventurous chase scenes, daring escapes and fast-paced espionage are glued together with charming slices of Irish culture for a story that’s just plain fun.

Of course Boyne Castle is a fictional place created for the movie, but I’ve always been curious where the crew shot the castle scenes. Was it a combination of several places, or even a set at Pinewood Studios? My searches had always yielded nothing, but today I found my answer.

At home with a head cold, I wanted to watch something lighthearted, cheerful, Irish. In went Secret of Boyne Castle. As I followed Richard and Sean’s escapades, I paid closer attention to place names than I had before. Soon I realized that the climax of the film was supposed to take place in Clew Bay, off the coast of Westport in County Mayo. An Internet search brought me to a list of mansions and castles in or near Connacht, a northwest province of the Republic of Ireland.

A long shot maybe, but one that paid off. I clicked on the link to Dunguaire Castle in Galway, and there it was, big as life, the legendary (in my book) Boyne Castle.

Dunguaire Castle (aka Boyne Castle)

As I labeled it on my map, I realized that during my own visit to Ireland, I had driven within the vicinity of the fortress without knowing it. So close …

Now I have another reason to return to Ireland.

And at last I know the secret of Boyne Castle.