Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you’ll have heard of the critically acclaimed TV show, Normal People. The TV series is based on Irish writer Sally Rooney’s wildly popular novel of the same name.
Normal People is the story of two Irish young adults from Sligo on the West Coast and late-night studying at Trinity College. Marianne, who is from a wealthy family but is socially ostracised, and Connell, who is working class but one of the “cool” kids. The book and TV series follow their tumultuous relationship, while according to the blurb, exploring “the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.”
Set in the fictional town of Carricklea in Co. Sligo in northwest Ireland and filmed in some beautiful locations, it has gone down a storm across the globe.
We’re here to tell you more about some of the places seen on the show. So when you visit Ireland, you’ll be ready to hit to road and see them for yourself!
In south Sligo you’ll find the little-known town of Tobercurry, which formed the backdrop of the fictional town of Carricklea. The New Year’s Eve scene was filmed in Brennan’s Bar in the centre of the town – learn more about this locale here. As well as this, Killoran’s Bar, St John the Evangelist Church and Tobercurry’s main thoroughfare, Teeling Street, are also featured a lot.
Found on the N17, you’ll pass through Tobercurry on your way to Galway from Sligo. From here, you’re just a stone’s throw from the Ox Mountains and Enniscrone Beach.
Many of Marianne and Connell’s romantic walks along the beach were filmed at one of Sligo’s favourite coastlines, Streedagh Beach. A gorgeous strand, Streedagh is as famous for its stunning backdrop of sandy dunes and views of the iconic Ben Bulben mountain as it is for its history.
The site of three Spanish Armada shipwrecks in 1588, this lengthy strand is a gorgeous spot for a walk and is found just off the N15 road traveling from Sligo to Donegal and Derry.
It’s also worth noting there are some phenomenal fossils to be found here – it’s like an outdoor museum and Streedagh is definitely worth a stop when you’re in the area.
Multiple areas of Trinity College feature in the show, which is understandable as Sally Rooney, author of the Normal People novel, is a former student of the college.
All throughout Season 1, you will catch glimpses of Connell studying in Berkeley Library and Marianne in Marsh’s Library. In one shot, you’re sure to have marvelled at the beautiful Campanile which marks the centre of the front of Trinity College Campus. As well as these, the Robert Emmett Theatre and Parliament Square can also be spotted in various scenes.
Trinity College is well worth a visit on your next visit to Dublin. While most people simply come to see the Book of Kells, places like Marsh’s Library, and 300-year-old library full of beautiful old books, and Berkeley Library is also a stunning spot for any book lover.
Though set in the fictitious Sligo village, Marianne’s ancestral mansion wasn’t filmed in Sligo but rather at Knockmore House in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. This stunning Palladian-style property is perfectly situated for anyone touring Wicklow National Park or Powerscourt Estate & Gardens.
It’s less than an hour’s drive from Dublin so it’s an easy visit to achieve in a morning before exploring more of the surrounding area, such as a walk along the Wicklow Way, Ireland’s premier long distance trail and one of the best places to explore the great outdoors on the East Coast. In fact, perhaps you’d even like to pop on your trusty hiking boots to join a self-guided walking tour of the Wicklow Way through this ancient and oft-overlooked landscape.
Part of the series was set in Sweden, but you might not know that the Swedish loft where Marianne’s love interest Luka lived wasn’t filmed in Scandinavia at all. The loft is actually a photographer’s studio space in the National College of Art and Design in Usher’s Quay Dublin.
Although you won’t gain access to the actual room used, there’s an amazing gallery next door exhibiting the students’ work. You’re also in the ideal area for dropping by Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia, where you’ll learn more about medieval and Viking era Dublin.
Right around the corner from the Dublin Writers Museum is the Dublin City Hugh Lane Gallery. This gallery formed a purpose-built set which stood in as the Guggenheim in Venice on Marianne and Connell’s trip to Italy.
Admission to the Hugh Lane Gallery is free and there’s a wealth of exhibitions representing several different contemporary and traditional styles to be seen. As well as the Hugh Lane Gallery, you’re within walking distance of the James Joyce Centre. You’re also just a hop, skip and jump away from the acclaimed EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum, featured in the photo, which you can hit up after your gallery visit. This museum is an ode to huge numbers of Irish who emigrated abroad over the centuries, particularly to America, the UK and Australia.
Although perhaps not the most accurate representation of Dublin student accommodation, Marianne’s Trinity Era residence offers a beautiful backdrop for the filming of Marianne’s college days.
Situated in the upmarket Ballsbridge region of Dublin, you can take a wander down Wellington Road where “Marianne’s house” can be found. Once you’ve soaked up the red brick majesty of this corner of Dublin, take yourself off for lunch in one of Dublin’s finest foodie areas.
Hungry after all your Dublin explorations? We recommend The Old Spot or The Chop House for a bite to eat.
Throughout the Normal People series, a number of fine places are featured that are great for grub and even better for a pint or a coffee. Take a look below to find a few that were used in the show.
This popular student haunt was where Marianne, Connell and their mates were filmed playing pool over a few pints.
This Dublin-based café moonlighted as a Swedish café in the show. Best known for its vegan, locally-sourced fare, the Forest Avenue Restaurant & Greengrocer is also and where Marianne tried to dump Luka over coffee.
The Fumbally Café was spruced up with artificial snow to give the illusion of a hip Swedish cafe, where Marianne drank copious amounts of coffee while on her Erasmus year.
Normal People will surely have set your curiosity alight for the romantic streets of Dublin and the stunning Wilds of Sligo. As if you needed any more reasons to visit Ireland…
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