The twelve-part BBC/Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel Normal People was a runaway pandemic hit. And no wonder! This tender and human exploration of the on-off romance, between smart, privileged outsider Marianne and down-to-earth Connell, supplied all the physical and emotional intimacy viewers craved during the tough months of lockdown.
Normal People follows Marianne and Connell from their rural Irish beginnings to university in Dublin and on to Italy and Sweden. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic – and the unpredictable weather – the filming stayed largely true to Sally Rooney’s vision.
Read on to find out about a few of the key filming locations for Normal People.
Marianne and Connell’s fictional hometown of Carricklea is represented by Tubbercurry – or Tobercurry – in Ireland’s County Sligo. Two pubs – Brennan’s and Killoran’s – and the local church were used as settings for the key scenes. A real place of pilgrimage for all Normal People fans.
Normal People filming locations: Knockmore House, Wicklow
Standing in for Marianne’s posh but dysfunctional childhood home is Palladian beauty Knockmore House in Enniskerry, Wicklow. This gorgeous, privately owned property is perhaps most famous as the childhood home of former Irish transport minister, Shane Ross.
Just like author Sally Rooney, Marianne and Connell both head off to study at Dublin’s Trinity College. Founded in 1592, Ireland’s top-ranked university is an extremely busy place, which made filming there rather complicated. Nonetheless, some key TCD sites appear in Normal People, including the Harry-Potterish Marsh’s Library, the brutalist Berkeley Library, Robert Emmet Theatre and the famous Parliament Square at the heart of campus.
Normal People filming locations: Tenuta di Verzano, Sant’Oreste, Lazio
In Sally Rooney’s novel, Marianne’s family owns a second home in Trieste, a gorgeous port city on the border with Slovenia in northeast Italy. For filming, however, a location near Rome proved much easier. The Normal People production team chose Tenuta di Verzano, a historic guesthouse in Lazio, for the Sheridans’ villa. You might recognise the house’s distinctive look from Eat, Pray, Love.
Marianne’s year abroad in Sweden is a bleak and poignant episode in her history with Connell. It was also a particularly difficult one to film as the crew needed exactly the right amount of snow to go ahead. These scenes were finally captured as late as February 2020, shortly before lockdown descended across Europe. Viewers will agree that the dramatic effect of Marianne walking on the frozen Baltic Sea was more than worth it.
The beach where Marianne and Connell pursue their budding relationship is Streedagh Strand, part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The dramatic setting and expansive sea views are perfect visual metaphors for the challenges that will face the young couple as they move from school to university.
School is where it all begins for star-crossed lovers Connell and Marianne. The school they both attend is represented by Hartstown Community School in Clonsilla, Dublin. Some of the Hartstown students and teachers were even recruited as extras.