| 7.4°C Dublin

Behind the scenes 'Our Centra has become a selfie spot for fans' - locals reveal impact Normal People has left on Dublin and Sligo


Paul is up against for an award for his role in Normal People with Daisy Edgar Jones

Paul is up against for an award for his role in Normal People with Daisy Edgar Jones

BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu

Paul is up against for an award for his role in Normal People with Daisy Edgar Jones

TV phenomenon Normal People turned Paul Mescal into a global superstar but the coming-of-age story has also sprinkled some stardust on its set locations.

With Connell’s chain getting its own Instagram account, it’s no surprise the location of the character’s petrol station job along with his Debs hotel and the Korean restaurant where he brings new girlfriend, Helen, on a date have become selfie hotspots.

And the real-life staff in the working locations have also enjoyed some second-hand fame.

When the film crew descended on Brothers Dosirak in Capel Street in Dublin, they spent an entire day filming the loved-up date scenes between Paul Mescal’s character of Connell and his girlfriend Helen, played by actress Aoife Hinds.


Paul Mescal with Aoife Hinds

Paul Mescal with Aoife Hinds

Paul Mescal with Aoife Hinds

Jamie Cho, whose father, Sang Hyung Cho, owns the Brothers Dosirak on Capel St, found himself on screen in the global TV hit of the year.

“I was the waiter in one of the scenes, it was where the main character had a new girlfriend, and they all went for food in an Asian place.

“(Paul Mescal) seemed like he was pretty in the zone, trying to get his job done especially as it was a long set. He seemed like a cool person.

“It was nice to see someone who was going to be in mainstream television. It was crazy there were so many people that you don’t see behind the cameras. There were a minimum of ten people working on that.

“I didn’t expect much out of it, it was like a small thing for me and to know it became that big was a nice humble surprise.”

He said a few of his former classmates from Coolmine school were also extras in the series which has won over fans like the Kardashians and Nicole Kidman.

Despite the pandemic, he said there has already been a trickle of Normal People fans in the popular Korean restaurant.

“Some people have come in and recognised the place because of the fact it was in (Normal People).”

But he is hoping there will be more international visitors when travel restrictions lift next year.

“It would be extremely nice especially in a way where they recognise where the actors and probably (want to) enjoy the same food they had.

“They had the original beef and had chicken wings and they all had a bento box,

“I’m fairly certain we’ll be getting people coming in asking questions about the Normal People cast. It’s amazing.”

Meanwhile the famed Dublin nightclub, Tamangos at the White Sands Hotel, doubled as the Debs Hotel in Sligo.


Filming in the White Sands hotel

Filming in the White Sands hotel

Filming in the White Sands hotel

The general manager of the hotel, Mary Murphy, said the crew were there for nearly a week.

“It was filmed in Tamangos – where the gang goes”, she said laughing, “the meal end of it was up in the function room of the White Sands hotel and the nightclub end of it was in Tamangos.

“It was a very big crew. We’ve had a few different film crews round and that was probably the biggest one.

“There was a good buzz around the place, and they were lovely people to deal with.

“We saw the crew setting the place up and putting up the lights and the paintwork and the signage had to be covered up because you couldn’t have the White Sands Hotel. It was very interesting to see.

“We saw a bit of filming, but we gave them their space. We weren’t all standing there at the kitchen door with the heads sticking out.”

She said the staff were delighted to feature as extras.

“They needed a few staff for behind the bar and the younger staff all jumped at it.

“When I was looking at (Normal People) I was saying that’s so-and-so and that’s so-and-so. God, they look well in the uniform

“It was a very positive thing,”

Although she said the hotel is no stranger to film crews.

She said: “We had Love/Hate out too for a day or two. It was at the very start of it.

“The nightclub has actually been closed since March. We were operating takeaway food and drink during the lockdown and we are just opening now for a food service.”

The manager is hoping their role in Normal People will help business but fears they might have missed the boat due to the pandemic.

“I think there is the fact that there is a time gap and younger people move on very quickly but it all helps.”

She was taken by the down-to-earth nature of the show’s stars.

“They were around the hotel. We left them be. It was great to see the (reaction).

“They were very mannerly, very polite.”


Normal People crew filming in Tubbercurry

Normal People crew filming in Tubbercurry

Normal People crew filming in Tubbercurry

Meanwhile McSorley’s Centra, Tubercurry, has already turned into a selfie spot thanks to its role as Connell’s petrol station workplace in series.

The manager of the Drive service station Roisin Healy said there was an influx of curious fans during the summer.

“We had people taking photographs on site over the summer especially with people staycationing this year.

“We had people coming in and asking us if this was the shop in Normal People."

She said it was business as usual during filming.

She said: “It was one evening on our site. We didn’t actually close, they worked around the customers, it was done in the evening, so it wasn’t that busy.

“It was very interesting. It was something I’ll never see again. When I actually sat down to watch it, I thought it was an awful lot of work involved in the scene.

“(Paul Mescal) was behind the till. I think they provided their own uniform. I did speak to him on the day and he seemed to be a nice lad.

“I had read the book after they came.”

She said it would be great to see Tubbercurry get a boost in visitor numbers when things are back to normal.

“There was a great buzz around when it was going on.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors