Scene It Before? - Dublin Pubs in Film

Clearys-Pub-Ireland-Dublin

The pub is the primary location in Irish life for social interaction. As such it's only natural that the pub should be reflected in domestic and international TV and films (pronounced 'filums' in Ireland of course) shot here. Ireland has always been a popular location for filming, and Dublin city and its pubs have benefited greatly from the exposure to an international audience. Some pubs have featured more regularly, mostly because their design hasn't changed in a hundred years and their interiors can be used in period movies. Today we'll explore Dublin pubs through film and give you some ideas of movies to watch before visiting Dublin.

“Duck you sucker!”. You could be forgiven for thinking that most movies filmed in Dublin and Dublin pubs would be quaint paddywhackery or revolutionary historical epics, but one of the biggest movies to have a scene filmed in a Dublin pub was a Western. Acclaimed director Sergio Leone chose Toners pub on Baggot Street as a location for his classic, 'A Fistful of Dynamite'.

James Coburn plays an Irish revolutionary who was exiled to Mexico and fought in the revolution of the 1910s. In the scene shot in Toners, Coburn did a bit of shooting of his own, turning a gun on a policeman. The film was also released under the names 'Giu La testa' or 'Duck You Sucker!'. Toners celebrate their connection with cinema history through a poster for the film hanging proudly in their beer garden. 

Aside from the taps and some drinks advertisements, the pub looks nearly the exact same today and avid film fans could easily recreate the scene with a smart phone, so long as they don't get in the way of the bar staff.

One of Ireland's most popular cultural and cinematic exports during the early 90's was 'The Commitments', based on Roddy Doyle's book of the same name about the formation of a band from a working-class area of Dublin. Pubs were used several times in the film, usually in scenes with expository dialogue or when the band were playing gigs. 2 pubs, Clearys on Amiens Street, and The Hairy Lemon on Stephen's Street, were used for some of the dialogue scenes.

Interestingly, one location used in the filming has since become a pub. The location used for the bands rehearsal space was at the time a pool hall. It later became 'The Palace' Bar and Nightclub. Today, a part of the space has been turned into 'Jimmy Rabbitte's' bar, which is named after the film's protagonist. It's one of the best new bars in the city at the moment and while it's not a shrine to the movie, it does have some photographic nods to it.

The aforementioned Cleary's on Amiens Street is a pub that deserves more recognition as an excellent traditional spot than it generally gets. It obviously hasn't slipped by the attention of location scouts in the city. The pub has been used in several movies and scenes including Liam Neeson, the cast of The Commitments (once again), and Laurence Olivier. While the actor is still well known today, Laurence Olivier's turn as an alcoholic schoolteacher in the 1961 film 'Term of Trial' may not quite live on the imagination for many. Still, it's not every pub that can claim that an actor of his calibre plied his trade inside their doors, even for a short while.

The pub that probably does the most trade out of their cinematic association would likely be Whelan's on Wexford Street, which is well known among romantic cinephiles as 'the pub that was in 'P.S. I Love You'. Gerard Butler sings the song 'Galway Girl' to Hillary Swank from the stage, all the while unknowingly dooming every Dublin pub musician to play the tune during every gig until the end of their days.

 

The icing on the cake and the film that most Dubliners know about, but few have seen is the Bollywood action movie 'Ek Tha Tiger'. It's best known for an extended chase scene in which an Indian spy mounts the Luas (light rail) and battles his foe. There is another sequence that involves impressive fight choreography in The Temple Bar pub and ends with a man thrown through the window of the popular Porterhouse pub on Nassau Street. But that might not quite be up everyone's alley for a cinematic pub crawl through Dublin...

 

Visiting Dublin?

Spend time touring the city and swing by a few of the famous pubs mentioned. After you've downed a drink or five come back and relax at Generator Dublin.