‘Normal People’: Is Sligo a Real Place?

If someone is looking for a new TV show to watch, they may be interested in the Irish series Normal People. The show premiered last year on Hulu and won a few awards. The story drew in viewers with its depiction of the journey of young millennial adults. 

While there may not be another season, fans can visit the places where the crew filmed. They can plan a trip to Sligo, Ireland where multiple scenes took place. 

‘Normal People’ is a book and television show

Five cast members sit on a stage in gray chairs behind a black table with water bottles and white flowers in a white vase. The background has industrial beams forming a frame around a projection of an indoor scene with the text, 'A hulu original Normal People' placed on the screen.
Normal People | Getty Images

In 2018, Irish author Sally Rooney released a novel called Normal People. The book is about the complex friendship between Connell and Marianne. They attend the same secondary school, and Connell starts as the popular one. At college, Marianne becomes the popular one, while Connell struggles to fit in. 

The novel spawned a drama television show of the same name. The plot of the series primarily follows the events of the book. Marianne is the oddball, and her mother employs Connell’s mom as a cleaner. The series ran for one season and had 12 episodes. 

Both the show and the book received critical acclaim. While both versions were successful, they have a few differences. In the novel, Marianne has a strained relationship with her mother. However, the TV show depicts it as more positive.  

Marianne originally breaks up with Swedish photographer Lukas when he says that he loves her. The series changes the circumstances of their breakup. While Connell’s romance with Helen has more details in the book, it does not get much screen time on television. 

What are the places where ‘Normal People’ film?

The show Normal People filmed on location in various places. The areas were in the very real county of Sligo, Ireland. According to the Sligo Tourism website, the show filmed many scenes on Streedagh Beach. The main characters would visit a beach whenever they met up for their secret romance. 

“I am incredibly excited for the world to see how beautiful Ireland is,” said Connell’s actor Paul Mescal, “and to have a backdrop such as Streedagh Beach in Sligo, against an incredibly modern story – it brings Ireland into the 21st century in terms of a portrayal on-screen.” 

For the hometown of Carricklea, the show was filmed in the southern part of Sligo. Specifically, the crew went to the town of Tubbercurry. One of the chosen locations in the town was a bar called Brennan’s Bar.  

The director liked how it was an “old-style traditional pub.” The type of building was an authentic Irish pub, which is not easy to find. 

Ireland’s tourism faced a challenge with promotion

At first, it would seem like Ireland would have no problem promoting places for tourism. Tourist companies might showcase the green fields of the country. Some might encourage people to visit the churches and waterfronts of Cork. 

According to The Guardian, marketing people had a challenging time with promoting tourism at Sligo. The main culprit was the amount of sex featured in Normal People. Many viewers felt uncomfortable because of those scenes. Some people dubbed the part of Ireland as “Fifty Shades of Sligo.”  

The tourist agency had to tap into the show’s popularity while avoiding its adult nature. The marketing team tried to be selective with the cinematography they used. They partnered with a production company and made a behind-the-scenes video.  

The clips included shots of Sligo’s flat-topped rock formation and the show’s main characters. Even though people could not travel much, travel agencies hoped to entice people to come when possible.

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