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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 9 August, 2020

Double Take: The Irish Hollywood in the Wicklow Gap

City of dreams!

Source: murielle29

FAR AWAY FROM the glamour and lustre of Hollywood, California is… Hollywood, Co Wicklow.

The picturesque village is situated on the Wicklow Gap Road and regularly attracts visitors tickled by its name.

Driving trough #Hollywood // #ireland #wicklow #village #irland #tour

A post shared by rag3y (@rag3y) on

Locals believe that the village provided the inspiration for its more famous name doppelganger. The story goes that a local man named Matthew Guirk left the village and made his way to America during the 1840s.

He eventually ended up in Los Angeles where locals say he opened a racetrack, which he named after his hometown.

Welcome to Hollywood ⭐️✨#hollywoodireland

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In 2011, the village hosted the Hollywood Town Fair and erected a replica of the iconic Hollywood sign in a field overlooking the village. It was made by local man Tommy Tutty, who previously made another such sign in honour of the Tour de France, but that one was eventually vandalised.

Fortunately, the second sign has fared much better.

Scroll through Instagram and you’ll find countless photos of the sign taken by people passing through.

In fairness, it’s a decent copycat.

As for whether the village can really claim to be the namesake of the legendary Los Angeles suburb?

The official story goes that Hollywood was founded by HJ Whitley, a land developer who built towns all over the United States. Known as the Father of Hollywood, he founded the town in 1880s.

In his diaries, he wrote that he came up with the name after speaking with a Chinese man, who told him that he was ‘holly wood,’ meaning ‘hauling wood’. It is then said that Whitley christened the town Hollywood, with both ‘holly’ and ‘wood’ serving as a nod to his English and Scottish heritage.

All over Hollywood, there are nods to HJ Whitley – Whitley Avenue, Whitley Height, Whitley Rentals.

Hollywood’s Matthew Guirk has been erased from the story or maybe he was never part of it.

Either way, it’s a good yarn: the man from Hollywood who went to Hollywood.

More: 38 of the best casual dining places around Ireland… according to top chefs>

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Amy O'Connor

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