Hollywood actor Matt Damon is spending the travel-restricted period caused by COVID-19 in the pretty Irish village of Dalkey, which he has described as "incredible" and "one of the most beautiful places I've ever been" in a radio interview.

The actor came from France to Dublin in the first place to shoot scenes for historical drama-thriller, “The Last Duel,” in which he plays protagonist Jean de Carrouges. On March 13, Disney announced that the studio had to delay the Ridley Scott-directed shoot indefinitely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dalkey 1.jpg
Dalkey is a pretty coastal village © Noel Bennett via Getty Images

Matt and his wife Luciana Barroso and three younger daughters, Isabella, Gia and Stella, remained in Dalkey, one of the most exclusive areas of Dublin, and home to U2’s Bono and music star Enya. Indeed it was Bono who encouraged the Oscar-winner to do the interview with radio station, Spin 1038, via Facetime, after the Fully Charged breakfast show presenters put out an appeal on air.

Dalkey in south Dublin with Martello Tower visible in the background
Matt Damon is staying with his family in Dalkey © Bruce B. Clarke via Getty Images

Speaking to presenters Graham O'Toole and Nathan O’Reilly, he said that life in Ireland, where people have been ordered to stay at home and have only been allowed to go for exercise within 2km of their residences up to this week, is "like a fairytale." Describing Dalkey as "absolutely gorgeous," he explained that it has great natural assets. "[Within] two kilometres of here, there’s trees and forests and woods and ocean," he said. "I can’t think of any place you’d rather want to be in a 2km radius."

Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso at an awards ceremony
Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso are staying in Dublin with their children © Randall Michelson/Getty Images for Film Independent

Locals have spotted the Oscar-winner jogging in Killiney Hill, and when asked what he made of the surrounding area, Matt described it as "insane." "I thought it was incredible two months ago, but now it's blooming and it's ridiculous," he said. "It feels a little like a fairytale here - it's gorgeous." He also paid tribute to the people of Dalkey for rebuffing enquiries about him from local and international media via social media. "That's when I realised how great this place was and how protective everybody here is," he laughed.

Matt Damon with Raouf Djeffal, owner of Ouzo's restaurant
Matt Damon with Raouf Djeffal, owner of Ouzos restaurant © Raouf Djeffal

Matt revealed that as he and Luciana had already brought teachers with them to home-school the children, they are fortunate that their daughters are being taught in person rather than remotely like their friends. His eldest daughter Alexia remained in New York where she was attending college, and Matt revealed that she and her roommates contracted COVID-19 early on but "got through it fine."

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Matt Damon chatting to Graham O’Toole and Nathan O’Reilly © Spin 1038

Matt also praised Ireland's prime minister, Leo Varadkar, who is a medical doctor and has been helping out on the frontline. "I mean, what a badass, it's just on another level," he said. The actor was spotted having a pint in Finnegan’s pub prior to the lockdown and jogging around the town. He also enjoyed lunch with his family at The Corner Note Café, where he posed for a photo with owner Mary Caviston. He had a photo taken with owner and executive chef Raouff Djeffal while having a meal in Ouzos steak and seafood restaurant.

Matt Damon with Mary Caviston, owner of The Corner Note Café
Matt Damon with Mary Caviston, owner of The Corner Note Café © Mary Caviston

“The Last Duel,” also stars Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer, and Matt has revealed that they will all return to Ireland at a later stage to continue shooting the film.

What you need to know about Dalkey

Dublin's most important medieval port has long since settled into its role as an elegant dormitory village, but there are some revealing vestiges of its illustrious past, most notably the remains of three of the eight castles that once lorded over the area.

Coliemore Harbour
Coliemore Harbour at sunset in Dalkey Island © Lola Gavin / Getty Images

Dalkey is small enough that you can get around on foot. Most visitors will be arriving by DART, so start your exploration in the middle of town: the main sights are on Castle St, as are most of the cafes (or on the streets just off it). Coliemore Harbour is where you can get boat trips; overlooking the adjoining Bullock Harbour are the remains of Bullock Castle. The waters around the island are popular with scuba divers; qualified divers can rent gear in Dun Laoghaire, further north, from Ocean Divers.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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