Book Review: World Film Locations: Dublin

world film locations dublin

Intellect Books began their World Film Locations series in 2011, with volumes based around heavy hitters like New York, Los Angeles and London.

Since then, the series has branched out to take in what might be described as the outposts of the film-making world; cities like Vienna, Reykjavik and now Dublin.

Always considered first and foremost a literary city, film-making is relatively new to the Irish capital. As such, the oldest entry in this volume, which is edited by Jez Connolly and Caroline Whelan with contributions from writers based both here and abroad, is 1959’s Shake Hands with the Devil, a now forgotten drama set during the civil war and filmed mostly around Glasnevin. There are roughly as many entries from this century as the last, testament to the growth of the visual arts in Dublin.

Working your way chronologically through the book gives a sense of how the city has developed since the mid twentieth century. The 1960s saw adaptations of famous Irish literary works like Joseph Strick’s big screen version of Ulysses, updated from the novel’s 1904 setting to contemporary Dublin, and featuring many scenes filmed around the Dublin Four locale.

Thanks to the global recession of the time, films of the seventies are notably absent, though I would have included the Gene Wilder comedy Quackser Fortune has a Cousin in the Bronx, which, like 1983’s Educating Rita, made heavy use of Trinity College.

It’s only when you reach 1989’s My Left Foot that an indigenous film movement begins to emerge, with big hits like The Commitments, The Snapper and Michael Collins following through the mid-1990s.

In the latter half of that decade we begin to see the influence of Quentin Tarantino, with a series of Dublin crime dramas; most successful among them being John Boorman’s Martin Cahill biopic The General.

It’s not until the mid-2000s that a truly local independent film-making scene develops, when film-makers like Lenny Abrahamson (Adam and Paul), Damien O’Donnell (Inside I’m Dancing) and John Carney (Once) begin to portray a Dublin that doesn’t conform to tourist board stereotypes.

Dublin Four locations discussed include the Docklands U2 Tower (The Tiger’s Tail), Poolbeg Lighthouse (Veronica Guerin) and Ringsend’s Millennium Tower (Goldfish Memory).

Unlike other volumes in the WFL series, Dublin only features those films set explicitly in the city. Over the years, Dublin has stood in for various other parts of the world. No discussion of Dublin film locations seems complete, for example, without including Kilmainham Gaol, a site which has found itself disguised for everything from The Italian Job to The Young Indiana Jones Adventures.

World Film Locations: Dublin is available at most large bookstores, or can be purchased from

Reviewed by Eric Hillis