Dublin: A Movie Set

Make sure  you look your best next time you’re in Dublin – you could find yourself in the middle of a film set, surrounded by leading Hollywood stars.  The love of all things Irish endures, making Dublin a highly sought-after location for a wide range of films, not just those actually set in Dublin.  Here are our top 10 Dublin movies:

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
Dir. Martin Ritt (1965)
The movie version of John Le Carre’s cold war thriller The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was filmed in Smithfield Market, Dublin, using a replica of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. Star Richard Burton caused quite a stir among the locals when he and his wife, Liz Taylor, booked into the Gresham Hotel for ten weeks.

The Italian Job
Dir: Peter Collinson (1969)
Remember all those Mini Coopers tearing through Turin?  No, we’re not going to try to convince you that those streets were filmed in Dublin, but the prison scene was.  The prison’s interior, where Noël Coward’s character masterminds the daring heist is Kilmainham Jail, a disused prison on the Inchicore Road.

The Italian Job
Dir: Peter Collinson (1969)
Remember all those Mini Coopers tearing through Turin?  No, we’re not going to try to convince you that those streets were filmed in Dublin, but the prison scene was.  The prison’s interior, where Noël Coward’s character masterminds the daring heist is Kilmainham Jail, a disused prison on the Inchicore Road.

Educating Rita
Dir:  Lewis Gilbert (1983)
Trinity College simply begs to be filmed, and it got its chance in the 1980s with Educating Rita.  Even though the film is set in Liverpool, the leafy surroundings of Trinity make the perfect setting for the academic milieu in which Michael Caine’s character rediscovers his passion for teaching literature when he encounters the enthusiasm of a determined student (Julie Walters).

In the Name of the Father
Dir:  Jim Sheridan (1993)
Based on the true story of the Guildford Four, four men falsely convicted of the IRA’s Guildford pub bombings, In the Name of the Father stars Daniel Day-Lewis and is set chiefly in Belfast and London.  But the opening “Belfast” scenes are actually the Dublin Docklands, the riot scene was filmed in Dublin’s Sheriff Street, and what is meant to be Park Royal Prison is actually Kilmainham Jail, the disused prison where scenes from The Italian Job were also shot.

Michael Collins
Dir:  Neil Jordan (1996)
Michael Collins starred Liam Neeson as Michael Collins, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War, so it’s hardly surprising that much of the action was filmed in Dublin. Pivotal locations from the 1916 Easter Rising feature, including the Four Courts and Dublin Castle – as well as our old friend Kilmainham Jail (see above).

The Commitments
Dir: Alan Parker (1991)
A comedy-drama film adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s eponymous novel, The Commitments is the story of a group of working-class Dubliners who form a soul band, and it was filmed almost entirely on location.   Joey “The Lips” mother’s house was shot on Pembroke Road, while Jimmy Rabbitte is filmed selling cassettes on Sheriff Street.  Other locations include Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and St. Francis Xavier Church on Gardiner Street.

My Left Foot
Dir: Jim Sheridan (1989)
Director Jim Sheridan and actor Daniel Day-Lewis joined forces for another biopic with My Left Foot, the story of Christy Brown, a quadriplegic from a large Dublin family who taught himself to write with his foot.  Most scenes were shot in Dublin.

The General
(Dir) John Boorman (1998)
A hard-edged and often hilarious drama, The General is based on the life of notorious Dublin gangster and criminal Martin Cahill, who pulled off a number of high-profile heists in Ireland and led a dangerous and powerful criminal gang. (He also robbed director John Boorman’s house – a scene that is recreated in the film).  Expect to see the Dublin districts of Ranelagh and South Lotts in the film.

Once
Dir: John Carney (2006)
A low-budget hit that has since been turned into a musical, Once centres on the interaction between musician Glen Hansard’s busker character and fellow musician Markéta Irglová as they wander the streets of Dublin.  Indeed, the budget was so tiny that the filmmakers saved money by shooting at friends’ houses  (The musical party scene was shot at Hansard’s own flat).  The Dublin street scenes were filmed without permits and with a long lens so that many passersby were unaware they were on a film set!

Ek Tha Tiger
Dir: Kabir Khan (2012)
The romantic thriller Ek Tha Tiger (Once There Was a Tiger)stars two of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, but it was filmed in Dublin.  With the plot focusing on an Indian secret agent’s attempts to investigate a Trinity College scientist suspected of selling missile secrets to Pakistan, much of the action was filmed at the venerable Dublin university.

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Aoife O’Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including car hire in Dublin.