Musicians Delight in Dublin: Once
Though it is perhaps not included among the many other cultural hubs of Europe—London, Paris, Rome—Dublin has as much to offer the culture vulture as any of the more renowned cities on “The Continent.” Part of the reason Dublin might be a step behind in the public consciousness is due to the fact that those other cities have appeared so frequently as the setting for memorable motion pictures. The first step in introducing the world to Dublin through cinema came with the 2006 musical Once. Far from the first film being set in Dublin, Once is the first that is neither historical nor political in tone. It is the simple story of a Hoover Vacuum repair man (Glen Hansard) who dreams of making music for a living. Strumming tunes from his guitar on Grafton Street he encounters a Czech woman (Marketa Irglova) who shares his passion for song craft. Circumstances conspire against romance, but they begin a friendship based on their love of music. Hansard, as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Frames, is no stranger to Dublin. He and director Tom Carney lead viewers on a tour of the Temple Bar cultural district where much of Once was shot. Slotted between the rolling green hills of the Irish countryside which are so popular among travel agents and the mouth of River Laffey, which opens to the Irish Sea, Dublin has most anything a visitor could want. Much of the arts community gravitates toward Temple Bar a small area along the south bank of the Laffey in the shadow of Trinity College at the center of town. Literature, music, film, fashion and much more arts-related activities find a home in Temple Row. And needless to say, there are no shortage of pubs ready and willing to serve up a pint or two. It is Dublin after all. Don’t be surprised if a local raises a glass in your direction either as Dublin was rated the friendliest city in Europe in 2007 and 2009 by members of Trip Adviser. But such demonstrations of fellowship seem natural in the city that hosts a movie like Once. It is hard to tell which is more charming, the movie or Dublin. But this is the type of dilemma that can be hashed out over corned beef, cabbage and chorus after chorus of Irish melodies.