Have you noticed the Hollywood sign in Wicklow?

By Katy Thornton

October 13, 2023 at 9:40am


The story of how Wicklow's Hollywood influenced America's Hollywood is wild.

If you live in the area, you've definitely caught sight of the original Hollywood sign in County Wicklow, but you perhaps don't know the history behind it.

It's based at the end of the Wicklow gap, and the name derives from the area's association with St Kevin, originating from the words Holy Wood. This described a local forest which St Kevin is said to have prayed.

Having come for solitude, St Kevin found that even Hollywood wasn't quiet enough for him, so he went across the mountains to find even greater isolation in Glendalough.

But it was a local emigrant from Hollywood, Matthew Guirke, who was forced to seek a new life in America after the Famine, that brought the Hollywood name to the LA suburbs. As with many towns and villages during the 1840s, Hollywood was decimated during the Famine, with many like Guirke forced to emigrate to America.


Guirke settled in a town in California and opened a racetrack which he named, you guessed it, Hollywood. It is believed that name being brought to the locality is where Hollywood, California, eventually got its name.

As for the Wicklow Hollywood sign, it was originally erected in 1998. It was badly vandalised, and had to be replaced in 2011.

Of course, there are a few theories on where Hollywood got its name, but we're sticking with this one.

Header image via Flickr



- Michelin star restaurant Aniar set to relaunch in early 2024

- Lú Festival of Light will illuminate Drogheda this Halloween

- One of Dublin's best and most affordable pizza spots has launched in Cork