Insider Tips

Films Set in Dublin

By Visit Dublin

4th April 2020

Dublin has long graced the big screen and films set here have offered a snapshot of life through the ages. Filmmakers have been drawn to the city’s bustling heart, to its maritime setting and for the panoramic possibilities even further enriched by its proximity to the Dublin mountains. Here's a run-down on the films showing glimpses into the magic of Dublin onscreen...

Sing Street

This feel-good coming-of-age story depicts Dublin at its nostalgic best. A 2016 musical comedy written and directed by John Carney and starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as the main character, it shows just how far one ambitious Irish teenager was prepared to go to impress a girl. South inner-city Dublin comes to life in all its gritty 80s glory, played out against a backdrop of glorious hits from The Cure, Duran Duran, The Clash and more.


What Before Sunrise did for Vienna, John Carney’s Once does for Dublin. The city is the soft-focus backdrop of one of the most widely-loved romances of the last decade. Scenes such as the twilit Grafton Street where characters Girl and Guy first meet and the romantic moment where Girl declares her love on Killiney Hill looking over the Irish Sea, showcase the city and its surrounds beautifully. The success of the film has generated Simpsons appearances and spin-off musicals, but the intimacy of the original film still remains.


An ensemble cast that includes Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, Kelly McDonald and Colm Meaney romping through a Dublin cast as a criminal's playground. This dark comedy has it all. A tale of Double-decker buses crashing, revenge, kidnappings and ransom demands abound as various characters stories are entwined in John Crowley's hilarious farce.

The Commitments/The Snapper/The Van

Roddy Doyle's novels have provided fertile ground for adaptation, all based in late 80s Dublin society. The charm of Doyle's misfit characters shine through in this Stephen Frears-directed trilogy – the perfect introduction to Dublin's sense of humour. From the ups and downs of Dublin’s “saviours of soul” in The Commitments to the drama of an unexpected pregnancy in The Snapper to a lifelong friendship being put to the test in The Van, Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy has all of Dublin life on show.

I Went Down

If Intermission (above) tickled your fancy, be sure to also check out Paddy Breathnach’s I Went Down, a hilarious Dublin crime caper made back in 1997. The film follows mobster Bunny Kelly – played by iconic Irish actor Brendan Gleeson – and the very unlucky Git Hynes (Peter McDonald) as they form an unlikely friendship! Sent on a mission by a Dublin gang boss, the pair bungle their way through Ireland making you laugh at almost every turn.

Ordinary Decent Criminal

Loosely based on the life of Irish crime boss Martin Cahill, Thaddeus O'Sullivan’s Ordinary Decent Criminal boasts an all-star cast, including Kevin Spacey as main protagonist, Michael Lynch and Dubliner Colin Farrell. As if dealing with 2 wives and a gaggle of children wasn’t enough for Michael, he has work to do, keeping his gang in business. This hilarious comedy sees our anti-hero start to lose his cool when he steals a priceless Caravaggio painting – that he’s then unable to get rid of!

My Left Foot

Starring Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis in one of his most striking and memorable roles, My Left Foot tells the true story of Christy Brown, a writer and artist born with cerebral palsy. In a deeply moving and often funny movie, we get a glimpse of the life of Christy and his family as they learn to live with his condition and struggle through everyday life in the 40’s and 50’s. Directed by Jim Sheridan and also starring Brenda Fricker, the film won big at the 1990 Academy Awards, with both leads and the director picking up gongs.

About Adam

A rom-com next; Gerard Stembridge’s About Adam stars American actress Kate Hudson alongside Dubliner Stuart Townsend in the titular role as a handsome young Dubliner who seduces three sisters! This quirky comedy uses an unusual and engaging narrative form, whereby several scenes are repeated numerous times but from the viewpoint of different characters. We watch as Adam charms his way through the family, including the younger brother, wondering who he will be with in the end…if any!

The Dead

Everybody's favourite James Joyce short story, ‘The Dead’, was extended into a feature length film by the late John Huston. The last film by the great director retains the melancholy mood of the story itself, the only successful adaptation of Joyce's famously difficult-to-translate work for the big screen. While set in 1904, Georgian Dublin and famous landmarks like the Gresham Hotel are beautifully shot under a layer of snow. Starring John Huston’s daughter and Hollywood royalty, Anjelica Huston and screenplay by his son Tony, it is easy to see this movie was a labour of love.

A Film With Me In It

Next up, a must-see for fans of the brilliant Irish comic Dylan Moran – A Film With Me In It. Ian Fitzgibbon’s black comedy follows the very unfortunate Mark (played by the film’s writer Mark Doherty) and Pierce (Moran); two friends who unluckily find themselves surrounded by corpses. Yep, you read that right! Watch as they try to muddle their way through a series of incidents and accidents with hilarious consequences.

Educating Rita

Starring legends of the screen Julie Walters and Michael Caine, Educating Rita sees a meeting of minds between a bored young housewife and her lecturer and explores the different worlds they inhabit. While actually set in Liverpool, Lewis Gilbert's Oscar-nominated film is secretly Dublin through and through. Both Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin are the principal settings for the film, plus a host of other spots like The Stag's Head pub and Dublin Airport: have fun trying to spot every giveaway sign that you're really watching Dublin.

The Drummer and the Keeper (2017)

The debut feature from ex-Fat Lady Sings frontman Nick Kelly takes in much of contemporary Dublin including the old chocolate factory on King's Inns Street that now houses the highly rated Blas cafe. There’s a striking scene at the beginning of the film that centres on Sandymount Strand: the vastness of the sandy beach is apparent and so too are those twin emblems of Dublin, the Poolbeg stacks, which loom in the background. The second was completed as recently as 1978, but they’ve become much loved and although no longer in use, their future is secure.

Whether it's one of the fiercely independent, homemade films that has made Ireland’s name in recent years (such as Once and What Richard Did) or international movie blockbusters that makes the most out of the city's historical setting, take a walk around the city for long enough and you're likely to find a camera crew setting up. To learn more about Dublin watch our own mini-film: This City's Got Love! 

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