Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Touring Ireland: Sit Back and Enjoy Your Trip

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Maggie King, a lover of all things Irish. Maggie is the author of Murder at the Book Group, published in 2014 by Simon and Schuster Pocket Books. She contributed the short story, “A Not So Genteel Murder,” to the Sisters in Crime anthology Virginia is for Mysteries. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women and has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor.

Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive.

Ireland. This verdant and magical land with its charming people and troubled history has been described countless times in literature and film. You’ve probably seen more movies and television shows with Irish settings than you realize: Angela’s Ashes, The Boxer, Circle of Friends, The Commitments, The Crying Game, Michael Collins, My Left Foot, Ryan’s Daughter, and The Snapper, to name a few.

When I’m planning a trip I enjoy watching movies and shows produced by my potential hosts and set in their homeland. By the time I visited Ireland in 2007, I’d seen the above films plus a few more.

And when I returned home, I continued my tour of the Emerald Isle as an armchair traveler. For your own tour, I recommend the following:

Father Ted follows the hilarious adventures of three Roman Catholic priests who, due to “improprieties” in their pasts, have been banished to a parish on the fictional Craggy Island, off Ireland’s west coast. The show is laugh-out-loud funny but sometimes crosses the line into poor taste. If you tend to be refined, you may want to skip this one.

Ballykissangel, filmed in Avoca, a picturesque Irish village in County Wicklow, revolves around a young English Roman Catholic priest as he becomes part of a rural community. The show captures the delightful Irish spirit and the stories, with their ensemble cast of well-drawn characters who captivate viewers from the get-go.

Single-Handed is a gritty police drama set and filmed in the west of Ireland. It features Sergeant Jack Driscoll, a member of the Garda (police) and one of the grimmest characters in the history of television anywhere. The breathtaking scenery in Single-Handed belies the darkness of the stories and the evil they evoke.

Once, a film set in Dublin, is based on the true story of musical collaborators Glen Hansard and Mark√©ta Irglov√°. What makes this delightful film extra special for me is that I can spot the restaurant Kafka is the background of one of the scenes. My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Kafka (in fact, we enjoyed great dinners all over Ireland, especially at the pubs).

The Irish R.M. is set at the turn of the 20th century and filmed in Kildare, Wicklow, and various locations in the West of Ireland. This comedy-drama series stars Peter Bowles and is based on stories written by Anglo-Irish novelists E. Somerville and M.Ross. If you’re knowledgeable of Ireland’s history with England, you’re sure to enjoy this one.

I also like to read books, especially mysteries, set in other places. So it’s no surprise that my fictitious characters share my passion. The Murder on Tour book group is the travel-themed group featured in Murder at the Book Group, my debut mystery. The members each read a different mystery based on a geographical setting, and gather to “booktalk” their selections—a fancy way of saying they give oral book reports, reminiscent of grade school.

When the group becomes skittish about reading murder mysteries after one of its members is killed, they transition to a film group, also with a travel theme—and no murders!

Here is a list of Irish films in chronological order:

Irish films and shows from Netflix:

Do you enjoy movies and TV shows set in other lands? Please share  your favorites.


Marilyn Levinson said...

I enjoy reading books that take place in other countries. I ventured to set my upcoming YA RUFUS AND THE WITCH'S SLAVE on the Cote d'Azur. I loved visiting the South of France some years ago, and was happy to feature it in my book.

And Maggie, I loved visiting Ireland last October. Such a beautiful country.

Anonymous said...

Erin Go Bragh!

Maggie said...

Marilyn, I've been to France but not in the south. On my bucket list!