Capture the essence of Dublin with these movies, books, and songs to get you in the mood for travel

Movies

Circle of Friends (1995)
Popular film based on the Maeve Binchy book, set in 1950s Dublin. Follows the lives of a group of young women at University College, Dublin.

The Commitments (1991)
Based on the Roddy Doyle book about a ragtag group of Dublin musicians struggling to get a break.

Intermission (2003)
Colin Farrell film in which a disparate group of Dubliners get tangled up in love and greed.

Michael Collins (1996)
A fine biopic about the Irish rebel, Michael Collins (played by Liam Neeson), who founded the Irish Free State. Filmed largely on location in Dublin and Cork.

Nora (2000)
Good biographical film about James Joyce’s fascinating and long-suffering wife Nora.

Books

Dubliners, by James Joyce (1914)
The quintessential Irish writer’s collection of 15 short stories written at the height of Irish nationalism and depicting Irish middle class life in the early 20th century. Many of the characters reappear in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Look for the specific Dublin geographical details embedded in each story.

Borstal Boy, by Brendan Behan (1958)
Discover Irish nationalist and playwright Brendan Behan by reading his breakthrough autobiographical book about growing up in Dublin as a member of the I.R.A. The title comes from the British word for juvenile jails. Young Behan was imprisoned at a borstal for his role in an attempted IRA mission.

Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy (1990)
Among modern writers, one of the best-loved is Dublin native Maeve Binchy who has an international following for her approachable fiction about life in Dublin’s suburbs. This novel, revolving around the life and loves of three young women who grow up in rural Ireland and attend college in Dublin, was made into a 1995 movie starring Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver.

The Ginger Man, by J. P. Donleavy (1955)
J.P. Donleavy’s first, and most famous, novel tells the tale of Sebastian Balfe Dangerfield, a drunken Irish-American ex-pat living in bohemian Dublin. The book, which was banned for 20 years, is listed at number 99 in Modern Library’s list of the 100 best 20th-century novels written in English.

The Commitments, by Roddy Doyle (1987)
One of Ireland’s best known writers is Roddy Doyle, and this comedic book about aspiring Dublin musicians became a top-grossing film in 1991. Both tell the story of a group of unemployed Dubliners void of any discernible musical talent who form a band with a uniquely “Dublin soul” sound.

Music

Compilations:

Boy, by U2 (1980)
The debut album from the Irish rock band U2 features classic ’80s rebellion rock; includes the single “I Will Follow.”

Star Spangled Molly, by De Danann (1978)
Traditional Irish romp by one of the most famous groups in the genre; rollicking fiddle, accordion, bouzouki, banjo, bodhran, and vocals.

Live at the Point, by Christy Moore (1994)
Classic Irish traditional-meets-rock event from Irish singer/songwriter Christy Moore. The CD features music from concerts staged at The Point in Dublin, a former train depot-turned-music venue.

Set List, by The Frames (2004)
The Frames enjoy a passionate cult-like following, but have yet to hit center stage in the U.S. Enjoy their live release, still a somewhat undiscovered local rock album, and then share it with a friend.

Má Bhíonn Tú Liom Bí Liom, Róisín Elsafty (2007)
Róisín Elsafty’s debut full-length solo album is a gorgeous re-imagining of traditional Irish music sung mostly in Irish. The accompanied and a capella tracks are produced by the world-acclaimed Dónal Lunny and feature world class musicians Máirtín Ó Connor, Graham Henderson, Ronan Browne, Siobhán Armstrong, and dancer Seosamh Ó Neachtain.

Classic Songs:

  1. “I Will Follow” by U2
  2. “Revelate” by The Frames
  3. “She’s So Modern” by The Boomtown Rats
  4. “Whiskey in the Jar” by Thin Lizzy
  5. “Finnegan’s Wake” by The Dubliners
  6. “Seoithín Seó” by Róisín Elsafty
  7. “You’re a Rose” by Fatima Mansions
  8. “Ride On” by Christy Moore
  9. “Tall Ships” by Adrian Crowley
  10. “On the Evening of the Epiphany” by Barry McCormack

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